Live Well

Now let me fill you into some of my quick observations I have made while in Sa’anapu:

Roosters don’t care what time of the day it is and crow whenever they want.
Animals can double as currency and gifts
Kids are adorable here in Samoa
The mosquitos show no mercy
Where ever I go.. all eyes are on me
It can rain hard enough to make it seem like the sky is falling and then be completely clear in 30 minutes
The lizards chirp like birds
Sweating is not optional
Beetles hilariously fall from the sky at random times to only fall on their back, where they can’t roll over
Rugby is everything here
People sit up in chairs here, not down
It’s not abnormal to have a cat chase a chicken through the house during evening prayer.
It’s not smart to play rugby barefoot
The night sky is absolutely breath taking
Training has been challenging, but the staff is amazing. We generally have language class everyday with other classes such as safety, teaching, and culture in the afternoon. I came into the program very nervous about picking up a new language, but I have actually been doing well. I study some nights, but being completely immersed in it really doesn’t give you much of a choice. I have been working hard so I can talk to the kids in my family more. Last night we sat outside and pointed out things in the sky. I learned ao means cloud and vainimunimu is outer space.

Several houses down from me is Ana, another Pisikoa. The guys from the entire upper side of the village play rugby in her front yard everyday. After the first week I was able to sneak my way into the game and now I am a regular. We only play touch, but on the weekends we play a 7’s tournament against the men from the other side of the village. During the last tournament the little kids watching the game affectionately gave me the nickname Rambo. Another name may have pleased me more, but it beats my current nickname of u po’o, which means bald.

This experience has certainly already begun to pass all expectations, but one revelation did come to me earlier this week. I was walking home after school and I became keenly aware that for the first time in my life I am in a place that I am easily in the minority. I look, act, and sound vastly different from the general population. Shoot I most likely smell different as well.

I have not previously encountered this before in my life, where I was aware of it. Being in Thailand at 10 years old doesn’t quite count in this situation. I am highly cognizant that I stick out and that everyone is watching me at all times. I don’t fit into a crowd, I happen to be a crowd of one, and is seen as such. It was easy to float by in America but floating isn’t an option here… unless your in the ocean of course.

We were told ahead of time that we will be the certain off attention, but nothing fully prepares you to be the focal point of a village. Some have a difficult time coping with the unwanted attention, but I am doing just fine. At times it can be a bit overwhelming, but we all have our own rooms we can go to if need be. I have gradually come to appreciate it in time. I have built somewhat of a reputation in the village. I have been getting to know the other families and playing rugby with the guys has helped.

Integrating into a culture really is a cool concept. At times you really need to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Many times when you do this you come out on the other side, so happy you did. Just last night I forced myself to go out and dance in front of the village for a church opening. It is all about having good fun and laughing at one’s self. The people of the village realize what your doing and love that you are giving it your all and respect you in turn. I am truly psyched for our village assignments, but that’s a month off. For now, let’s continue to live well.