Thursday, December 30, 2010

My New Home

My room

I am writing this blog from my new home in Samatau. Moving out was a crazy and difficult day. The volunteers that are going to be working on Savaii had to get up at 4:30 a.m. to catch the Ferry and we didn’t even really get to say goodbye. The Upolu group was a slow trickle as families were coming anytime before one-ish to pick us up. One by one we all packed up, helped move each other’s stuff, then hugged goodbye. It would be another two weeks before we all saw each other again. In home time two weeks doesn’t seem like much I know but imagine what it feels like here. To be honest, it felt a lot like loosing my safety net and jumping anyway. It was an emotional day and when my family came it was hard to say goodbye to everyone. Then it was into my new host uncle’s car for the long ride out to Samatau. This of course greatly worsened by the epic headache I had as payment for to much post swearing in celebrating.  By the time we got there it was mid-afternoon and traditional naptime, or malolo. I was hugely grateful I needed time to regroup before facing anyone. I have learnt in my years of traveling that the best way to feel settled somewhere is get your things out, organized, and put in there new places. It may not really make your room homey but it makes it yours. So instead of napping, as I probably should have done, I went about claiming my room; bags unpacked, clothes and things organized, stocking and reindeer antlers displayed, and everything in its new place. Seeing as I don’t really have much and I didn’t buy anything for my new place it didn’t take long or make much of a difference in the appearance of the room, but now I could imagine my self here, using my things, getting into a routine. It was a start. Then I did take a quick cat nap before facing the rest of my family. I live in a house with three other women. My mother is 68 named Millie and is a seamstress. She has had and raised eight kids and is now raising two more, which she adopted. In Samoa it is very common for family members to adopt other family members. In this case it a niece and a granddaughter who she now calls her daughters. The eldest of the two is Seleta and she is the librarian at my new school. She is twenty-five and had been instrumental in helping to find my place here as a young adult instead of the child I would have been categorized as if it was merely my age as an indicator. The younger daughter is Sicilia and she is twenty-one, she is closer to my age and you might think would be a better behavioral model. This is definitely not true as she is very much in the child category. She has no job and stays at the house doing household choirs. There is a very interesting age phenomenon here where many girls look much older then they are, but very little maturing happens between the ages of fifteen and early twenties as their role in society stays the exact same. The change comes when the girl is either married or gets a job outside of the house. My host sister from Lotofaga performed the same household tasks as Sicilia and acted much the same, but was eight years here junior. This is purely based on my experiences and observations and I am fully aware is a generalization and could be completely incorrect. I also have an older sister in her late forties that lives with her husband in the house right next to ours. They eat meals with us and basically live here in every sense except for actually sleeping. I have a wonderful big room and my house is nice clean, and pretty big for Samoan standards; three bedrooms to baths (indoor WOW), kitchen (the indoor western kind WOWx2), dinning area, and living room. They have conveniences that are definitely not average here in Samoa including the first microwave I have seen in a home. There are mosquito screens on all the windows so I don’t even have to sleep under a net and I have only seen one cockroach the whole time I have been here. I was really worried about not being about to cook for myself but my family actually makes me really good food and I even get some fruit and veggies, so thing are definitely looking up. I have also decided that two years of learning not to be so obsessed with food is probably a good thing. As my mother says you must eat to live, not live to eat. So I’m going to beat my cravings for pesto, peppered salami, kalamata olives, and delicious cheeses, into submission. My first impressions of my new home are that it is definitely more Western and possibly has a hirer income level then my training village. There is a lot more English spoken and many of the residence have jobs in town that they commute to. The five major churches in town are nicer then most back in the states. The one I go to is community church and has; two sound systems, two laptops, a projector, a sound board, wireless microphones, and the sermons are televised. It’s in a huge band new building complete with stain glass, vaulted ceiling, and beautiful inlays and decorations. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise as most Samoans devote an incredible amount of time and exorbitant amounts of money, where they can afford it or not, into their churches. There are still definitely lower income families in my village and as you get to the out skirts of the village you can see a difference in the standard of living, but over all I am living the high life, nice clean safe house and not really any physical hardships. I just keep asking myself what can I offer this village that has microwaves and wireless microphones. I guess I will start with English and see what happens.

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