Rapid Reaction

On September 30th, Group 87 of Peace Corps Samoa was officially formed. We met at a humble hotel beside the airport in Honolulu, Hawaii. Once meeting, we immediately began to form into a tight knit group of friends. It seemed almost flawless, how well we got along. The first evening was open, as we were all tired from flying over the course of an entire day.

The following day we began a small training to prepare us for the country, as we were flying out that same night. The training was really just to set expectations and prepare us for our actual training that will take place for 10 weeks here in Samoa. We covered simple topics of the nation’s culture, religion, and how to act in situations. We also covered the Peace Corp’s mission and corps expectations, which really help set the mood. From the beginning of the orientation, I could tell that this group of individuals was special. Every single one of us has a true passion to serve and help others. I would like to say 90 percent of us our educators or have taught in some form or other.

We are quite an eclectic group. Our ages range from 22-74, our degrees range from a PHD in English to a Bachelors in aerospace engineering, and we are from all four corners of the United States. With all these differences it seems strange that we fit so well together. From the get go I felt extremely comfortable around my 21 other group mates. They don’t judge and they all know that we came her to do something selfless and amazing. People in this group have amazing life goals like becoming a senator or ambassador. I truly can’t wait to see what group 87 can accomplish once in the field.

This morning, after a gruesome 2:30 A.M. departure time from Honolulu, we landed in beautiful Apia. We were greeted by the Peace Corps staff at the airport were we swiftly whisked away to the Ministry of Education for the Ava Ceremony. This is the sacred welcoming ceremony of Samoa that involves drinking the Ava drink. Three chiefs spoke welcoming us to the nation and then we were handed the Ava bowl. Once handed the bowl you have to say, “Lau Ava Leah Le Atua.. Soifua” before taking a drink. (to our Ava God.. good health) The ceremony lasted around 45 minutes and was an incredible experience. Embassy staff, PC staff, and Ministry staff were all there to witness our welcoming.

Once the ceremony was completed we were taken to the hotel we are staying at for the next several days. The afternoon was mostly taken up with administrative tasks like setting up bank accounts, but the highlight was beginning our language training. We began learning basic greetings. It was very familiar to being in Spanish class in high school. As soon as we landed this morning, I knew I was meant to be here. I cannot wait to begin my assignment in a few months, once training is completed. I know training will be hard, but you have to work hard in life to make a difference and this is no exception. My buddy Steve in our group last night said that this is his destiny, and I have to concur with him. I must fulfill my destiny.