Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weekend Enjoyment


One of my favorite things about the weekend is going to church.  This may seem strange to many people who have known me growing up, but there is a reason for it.  I love seeing the village come together for this day each week.  It is so nice because it is the one day that everyone gets out of their house to meet.  It is beautiful to see everyone you know and love together in one room.

The other reason I love going to church, is what happens afterwards.  After everyone meets in church families get together to celebrate the week, and have a gigantic feast.  Samoan families love sharing with one another, so you will often see children walking with baskets full of fish, soup or other delicious food they made for that week to share with their neighbors.

 I love this feast because since I feel like I have been adopted by every family in my village, I know I always have a place to eat a delicious Samoan meal. 

After the meal we usually lounge about the house, sometimes taking naps, and sometimes goofing off.  Then most weeks, children begin to take out their backpacks to ask me questions about their homework.  This happens especially at the college level, where the students are often given difficult tasks to perform, especially based on their English language ability.  (I picture myself in high school, having all my classes taught in Spanish, based on the language I was taught up until that point.  When you are learning a language there are usually a lot of gaps that are needed to be filled in before complete comprehension of high school work.  I know I would have struggled more than most of these children are, which makes me extremely proud of them!)  I love being able to help them.   It is such a great feeling to know that you are not thought of as just the primary school teacher, but the teacher for the entire village. 

Being a volunteer here, means you are working 7 days a week, which means we always have to be visible and available.  It is how I have learned to love the Samoan cultures, and they have learned about my American ways, or sometimes unconventional American ways.  I truly think that the weekends are my favorite day because of the exchange I share with my neighbors is amazing.   As we lay on the floor reading stories, sharing new vocabulary back and forth, it is as relaxing as a day at the beach.  (Which is good since it is sa (not allowed) to go to the beach on Sundays!) 



  1. It's really strange! Why is it not allowed to go to the beach on Sundays?

  2. To Lili - Thanks for the shout out. I am glad to be of help. A big THANK YOU for your hard work. Your efforts epitomise the Peace Corp ethos of (to paraphrase JFK): Ask not what your Samoan school or village can do for you but what you can do for it. Best wishes.

    To Dona - The answer to your question lies in Samoans being fervent Christians. Whether this faith is misguided is another question altogether. Sunday being the Christian day of worship is considered sacred in Samoa and, every village has several rules restricting what people can do on this day. In general the village rules for Sunday are:

    1. No work in the fields/plantations or on the house, gardens and lawns. This is by far the easiest village rule to obey.
    2. No fishing.
    3. No outdoor recreation activities. Villagers who love to play volleyball or swim in the sea are out of luck on a Sunday. There are beaches (mainly designated for tourist) that are open on a Sunday. However for the local village beach-bum, there are the other 6 days of the week to get their beach fix.
    4. Any outdoor cooking for the Sunday lunch ("to'onai") must be completed by 9.30am (in some villages it is earlier than this time. It depends on when the first church service starts in the morning). This is to stop smoke from outdoor kitchens wafting through the churches, affecting the church services.
    5. Village shops are not allowed to open at all in some villages and in other villages they can only open in late afternoon but must close for evening church services.
    In a further display of their devotion to their Christian faith, during the weekdays most villages also have an evening curfew, normally between 7-9pm. This time is set aside for villagers to be at home in prayer. Although people cannot be outside during this time, there is no 'prayer police' that goes house to house checking that families are in prayer, so people can go to sleep, watch TV or read whatever takes their fancy.