Monday, February 23, 2009

This is Allison, standingby the little creek that leaves the waterfall. Although you can't see the waterfall in this picture this is at Palauli waterfall in Supy's village. The color of the water is amazing.

Okay this is a picture of my house in Sailmu, the windows to the left are the windows to my room. It's beautiful, hot, but beautiful.

So I'm in Apia right now, supposedly picking up the check for our community garden project, however things being often misunderstood around here, we were actually just coming in to sign the paperwork to receive the 5,000 tala. That's alright, although now I'm back in Apia, where I really didn't want to be again until St. Paddy's Day. Oh well, back to the village tomorrow.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Oh yeah, here is a list of the books I have read so far, there’s quite a bit of time to catch up on reading, so its been a great past time here. Plus there are a lot of books that I haven’t read yet, and have always wanted to, so what better time right? And as you will see from the list, David Sedaris has been a great discovery of mine. Although people have been telling me for years to read him, I haven’t until now, taken the advice. So thanks to all of you who knew I would think his books were hilarious.

Bean Trees
Piano Tuner
Catcher in the Rye
Curious Incident of the dog in the nighttime
Sex lives of Cannibals
Dress your family in corduroy and denim
High Fidelity
Satanic Verses (I had to relearn how to read for this one)
Eat, pray, love
The Unbearable lightness of being
The Sun also Rises
Tales of the Greek Heroes
The Kite Runner
When you are engulfed in flames
Robinson Crusoe
Me talk Pretty one Day

Some really fun ones
Global Marine Biological Diversity
Samoan Archipelago
Marine Biology an Ecological Approach
Marine Protected Areas

Currently reading
GRE prep book
Kingdom of Fear

This is my host family in Amaile, the village that we trained at. They were really great, and I miss them.

Some might recognize this from when we were researching Samoa before coming. It's the swimming, bathing and clothes washing pool for Amaile.
Here is my host sister, holding up a picture she colored, my Samoan name is Leone, is I haven't mentioned that before. Lay-o-nay. Not the dudes name from America.

This is me and two of the kids in my family in Amaile and one other straggler that likes to have his picture taken.
Okay so, I got through my first seminar. It was a little scary, but the guys were good sports, probably mostly at my expense, but that’s okay, I’ve learned to deal with people laughing at me, and me not knowing why, so I just laugh along. That’s been one of my main coping mechanisms actually, and it works everytime.
Anyway back to the seminar. 15 of the Aumaga (strength of the village) came to listen to the seminar, all striking young men, well except for a few. Tia couldn’t come, but she sent her sister Leutogi instead, to help me translate when I had difficulties, and to help with the questions. My had my speech, and my hand-made map of Samoa with all the coral reef outlined and other Marine Protected Areas in the country. I have to say it was pretty, I’ll take a picture for everyone to see. I think it took about 45 minutes for me to get through the seminar, with inserts from Leutogi, explaining what I was talking about, if it was unclear.
The questions at the end were really great though. I didn’t think that anyone would have any, but instead would want to leave and go home to malolo (rest), however, there was a good 20 minutes of questions that I could answer, so it was pretty good. I did have to have Leutogi translate a lot of the questions though, but I got through it okay.
Basically my goal in doing these seminars is to teach these guys a little about their environment, why it’s important to protect it, and how we go about doing it. We’re also saving quite a lot of money, having me do the seminars and not having to put on the production of having someone from the outside coming in. They don’t have to make food for me, or get all dressed up, or go through all the customary stuff, which makes me feel like I’m at home and they accept me. I also wanted to prove that I know a little something about the ocean, and that I’m here for a reason. This is just the first one though, so I have plenty more time to really drive that one home.
Overall I think I got out off it with a little dignity, although one of the guys joking (or not so jokingly) said I should pay each of them ten tala for coming to the seminars. Everyone laughed and then I followed it with, leai ni tupe, or there’s no money. Everyone laughed at that too, so I think I handled it well. Money is always a problem, here and everywhere else.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Seminar 1

Okay, so today is the start of my seminars on Marine Conservation Areas, specifically the one in our village. I've written the seminar in full (samoan) with help from Tia, a woman in my village who lived in the States for 40 years. It's just a basic overview of why we need the MPA, what they do and things like that. It's a little scary though, so wish me good luck. Here's a picture of the little girl, Pae'e in my family, whenever i feel a little down she's around to help me out. This other picture was the day after Christmas, when a few of us went to Manase and spent the night there. It was a great, beach Christmas.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

So this is my first post while actually being in Samoa. It's ridiculous I know, but as most people who have known me for a while have realized, I am not very good at keeping in touch. Recent events have made me want to be closer to home, at least spiritually so I think this will have to suffice.
I've been in Samoa for eight months now and have been living in my site, a sub-village of Salimu in the larger village of Faga, on the big island of Savaii. It's a mouthful, but it's amazing. I'm working with my community on the fa'asao, or the marine protected area in their bay area. This entails swimming whenever I want in an area that is not only protected from fishing, but also incredibly beautiful. I have identified over 20 species at the moment and each time I go out, I see something new. My village has attained a grant from the UNDP to help finance a giant clam or faisua farm within the marine protected area. We have five at the moment and all I can say is I wish I had an underwater camera to show everyone the amazing colors of each different giant clam. I couldn't be happier with this part of my assignment. I also start my seminars on the 17th of this month, educating the men and some women in the village about their marine protected area and things to do, and not to do (dynamite fishing, for one). It will be given in all Samoan, so my language skills will really be put to the test. I have to give it to the Peace Corps though, they do a great job with language training, especially one that few people outside of this island chain smaller than Rhode Island speak.
Other than the MPA, I have just finished writing a grant to request NZAID for assistance on buying 12 hand sewing machines for the Aualuma (daughters of the village) in Salimu. I'm very hopeful about it, but won't know until mid-march. We'll also be starting our sewing machine seminars after we get the machines, and with help from the women in my village, I'll be teaching some sewing techniques to our ladies. This will be great for them to make school uniforms and church clothes for their families.
Some other stuff is in the works, but I'll write about that when something actually happens.
Now a little note about the great people of Samoa. I have been living with my host family in Salimu for five months now and have become very close with all of them. There are three young men named Osovale 18, Malaki 17 and Happy 24. Their sister is named Taulau 18. Then there are the babies of the family, Pae'e 2 and baby Briony who was just born in September. Which is pretty kick ass, although it's a boy, so interesting at the same time.
Alright I'll write more soon, but as I'm sitting in our tiny office in Salelologa and there are people waiting to use the only computer we have, I'll have to go.
I love everyone and miss home everyday. Wish me luck and I hope everyone is going fine.
Tofa Soifua