Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Little Bit of Drama

One of the main challenges since I have been in Samoan has been dealing with establish appropriate relationships. I have been tentative to write about it but as it seems it is going to be a persisting issue I thought I would go ahead. I have mentioned before difficulty creating professional relationships because of my smiley easy to laugh nature, well it has also had other consequences. I have made a very big effort to avoid contact with any Samoan men in any social way as it for one is not appropriate for men and women to socialize, but I also don’t want it to effect my image in the village. In my training village this was difficult as I had a twenty two year old brother and he had a group of friends that would hang out at the house. I was very careful never to make conversation or “hang out” with the boys. I would just smile and say hello as I walked by never stopping to talk or responding to their questions. This was a miscalculation for me. In America or most places I have traveled this would seem polite but not overly friendly. In Samoa it seems this is like an open invitation. I proceeded to have lots problems with young men in the village getting my number from my brother or just stealing my phone if it was left on the table and just taking it. There was a great deal of love texts sent and none I responded to. This didn’t seem to be a deterrent either. It wasn’t until I was blatantly rude did it at least lessen. This came to a head in my training village when one of my peers on the staff at school got my number from somewhere and started pursuing me. The texts were much more elaborate as his English as practically fluent and he took to calling me at all hours of the night. Again I never answer or responded, until final I text him and said I was not interested and please don’t contact me again. This didn’t seem to have any effect. It wasn’t until he started coming around my house and coming to the volleyball game I played in and trying to confront me that, this went from an annoyance to a problem.  I couldn’t joke this of anymore, this man was making me even more uncomfortable and out of control then I already was. I had a talk and small break down with my instructor. I just kept telling her that I didn’t understand, “what am I doing to encourage this,” “why aren’t the other girls getting this” “I have been so careful.” The other girl volunteers were able to talk to and even socialize with boys and weren’t having this problem. She calmed me down and just told me to be patient and they would eventually get bored and leave me alone. She was right of course and after a couple of weeks the teacher stopped calling. I just realized that something about me made me approachable no matter how removed I made myself from the opposite sex. I hoped that my new village would be different. This is when the drama came into play. One the second night I was awoken in the middle of the night by some one at my window calling my name. My bed is right next to the window all that was separating me from the voice was the mosquito screen and some chicken wire. The voice was whispering my name and telling me to out side because he wanted to see me. It was speaking perfect English and calling me by my English name. At first I was to scared to speak at first but I had gasped when I woke up so he new I was awake. Eventually I got up the courage to tell him to leave. He wouldn’t and then he got very sad saying he thought I would remember him. I said I didn’t and he needed to leave or I was waking up my family, he didn’t. Eventually I went into my sister’s room and woke her up. The man ran away when she turned on our outside lights but when she went to wake my other family members he came back and started calling my name again. When my sister and brother in law came from next door he ran off again. This is a major infraction in Samoan and a huge crossing of lines. My host brother in law wanted to take it to the council of chiefs but couldn’t with out a name and I didn’t now who it was. All I knew was that it must have been someone I met on my visit to Samatau a couple of weeks before as he expected me to remember him and it was someone who spoke very good English. I’m sure there was no intent for harm and it was just a misguided romantic gesture, but I know sleep with the outside light on. There have been no repeat incidences and now the whole village is looking out for me. I feel perfectly safe and there was a report filled with Peace Corp. Hopefully with time here in the village the novelty of the palagi girl with fade and this wont be a problem. It’s not uncommon for things like this to happen to Peace Corp girls here but it never really escalates as I said before I sure some very misguided man though he was being romantic. I just hope that future romantic gestures are aimed at someone else. So as I stated in my earlier blog, I am going to reserve the smiles and now am going to avoid even making eye contact with the opposite sex.

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