October 7th 2009
On October 7 2009, 23 member of Peace Corps group 82 Samoa arrived in Samoa before sunrise. It was the hottest I have ever felt ever when getting off of that plane. I do not think it is possible for me to sweat anymore than I did that morning.
Exactly 3 years later, Peace Corps group 84 Samoa arrived at Faleolo Airport. It was the afternoon and I had just finished my afternoon nap on the boat coming home from Savaii when I saw the Air New Zealand plane flying overhead. “They are here,” I whispered to myself.
I am the sole remaining volunteer from my group, however, I have one other 82er to keep me company, Kyle. Kyle is here doing volunteer work through the Catholic Church and has been doing amazing work. I am really lucky to have him on island, and often in the capital with me as I miss my Peace Corps family who have left Samoa.
A few days ago Kyle and I were reminiscing our first day in Samoa. The first thing we talked about was the heat and how horrible it was. We wondered if the newbies would feel the same way we did coming off the plane. We were also envious in some ways of them coming in on a Sunday. We had arrived midweek, and immediately were busy with tsunami evacuations, ava ceremonies, numerous sessions held by our office staff. It is fa’asa for most people to work on a Sunday, so I knew they would have it easy. (Besides, there haven’t been many tsunami evacuations since that year.)
As I drove to town on the 7th of October, I looked out the window just as I had three years prior and realized I still am in love with the Samoan scenery. Seeing all of the Samoan fales, with kids running about brings a huge smile to my face. I love watching cows and pigs cross the road at any point, as well as chickens show their fears of cars. The only difference is how I felt in the three years. In 2009 I felt like a foreigner, unsure of everything and unsure of life. In 2012 I felt at home and at peace with how my life was, and where it was heading.
The next day I attended the ava ceremony for group 84. I saw them all nervously sitting there trying desperately to understand what was going on in this foreign country with some strange man talking continuously in a foreign language. Just like three years ago, a RPCV named Benj was assisting in the ceremony, his job was the presentation of ava sticks. There were so many speeches and I smiled brightly when I heard the newbies stumble over the words before drinking their shell of ava. (La’u ava lea lea tua, soifua).
These three years have been so memorable to me, and a big part of it is because of how supportive my Pisi Koa family has been. So to group 82, I would like to wish you all a happy 3 years of growth, and thank you for being a part of my family for three amazing years. For group 83, I want to wish you a happy two year anniversary; it’s been quite a ride with all of you on the islands. For all of the Pisi Koa in the past (there are too many groups to list) who have been a part of my experience, fa’afetai lava! And for our newbies Group 84, Afio mai! I know Samoa will be full of amazing experiences. I hope you are able to open up and embrace them all. Manuia lou 2 tausaga!