Monday, September 7, 2009

Well I have officially left my site and home in Savaii and have moved all my belongings up to Avele College located right outside of Apia. I think the village is Vailima, or perhaps Avele which would make more sense. The massive secondary school sits up on the hill with around 600 hundred students and 40 staff members. Unfortunately the pule (principal) has just lost her husband, so as you could guess I haven’t had much time to talk to her about what I’ll be doing for the school. Originally with talks between Aiga (the principal) and Kellye (my PC boss) I was slotted to help with their science program and perhaps math. Those of you who went to any type of school with me will remember that I cannot possibly teach math, so those details will have to be ironed out. My roommate, a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer named Blakey was kind enough to let me move into her house on the school compound. The house itself sits in the middle of a taro patch and amongst the many people that live and work at the school. There are three bedrooms, a kitchen with refrigerator, bathroom and shower. Blakey has done a great job with the house, so I’m very happy to be there. I’m sure everything will work out just fine with the Avele part of my assignment.

Ministry of Fisheries however, I can’t say. When we asked them if they wanted a Peace Corps volunteer back in July, they said they would be unable to accommodate me because there were no more funds in their budget. Now that I have my own place to live and would be completely free labor, I have still not heard a word from them. Perhaps they don’t want to have the burden of finding things for me to do. This is quite unfortunate since I do have a background in Marine Biology and could help them with their programs. We’ll see what happens. If MAF doesn’t want me as a volunteer I am going to try to work with Conservation International that does work in Samoa. Their office is up close to my school, so who knows maybe it would even work out better. That’s my update for what’s happening now.

As far as my old village, I am very interested in continuing to help them with any projects they want to undertake. I will be going on at least once a month to do the monitoring on their Marine Protected Area and giant clams. My family although sad, if still very welcoming and want me to come back often to hang out. Overall the move is alright for everyone, and that’s what’s most important. Now my hope is actually getting some work done, but here that’s a pretty big goal.

Here are some pictures of things and people I'll miss back in Salimu. I'll put more pictures up later, when I get my camera card.


miguel said...

September 8, 2009

Dear Briony,

Many decades ago, I too was a Peace Corps volunteer living and working in the mountains of Colombia, SA. I had a partnership arrangement with the Federation of Coffee Growers, and our group (Colombia I, 1961-63 --the first group in the Peace Corps) was administered by CARE as well as a Peace Corps staff).
Most of my work was done from horseback or hiking the mountain paths (4,000 foot average -- good for growing the famous Juan Valdez coffee). Our "prime directive" was to put ourselves in the background; it was to pass on all successes and accolades to our promoter and to the members of the communities and their CD junta leaders. In effect, our job was to work ourselves out of a job – not the norm for we Americans.
Anyway, from all that experience in country as a rural PCV and a PCVL, and from being on the training staff for 19 Peace Corps groups upon my return to the States, I learned, and pass on to you, the following: . . . ONE DAY AT A TIME . . . This is what Peace Corps service is all about. Fear, it is said, comes from the unknown, and that is what you will feel and live with for the rest of your adventure. It’s all so new. We all, certainly myself, have had the feelings that we were frauds on the government payroll; kinda like we were wearing our big brother's clothes that don't quite fit. I think we all at one time or another, were besieged by lingering doubts and fears that we weren't doing enough, nor were we doing it right, nor fast enough. ONE DAY AT A TIME, slough off the failures, press on, and don't beat yourself up too much -- all your angst, and fears and doubts are part of the annealing process that is the Peace-Corps-experience. Ya gets outta it whats ya puts into it.
It is very important to remember to enjoy; it’s an experience that will be with you all the days of your life. Keep to your journal, and take photos. Later on in life you will treasure them. AND REMEMBER - -when the cultural shock sets in, which it will, physically get away from your site for a few days -- all the petty problems, which have built up to epic proportions, will reveal themselves as such, and more than likely you will return to your work site recharged, with new ideas, and ready to press on -- ONE DAY AT A TIME. I have a plaque that sits on the shelf above where I am writing this. It goes:
“Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.”
Here is a nugget garnered from my Peace Corps experience and from over seventy years of knocking about this ol’ life: -- No matter how much one accomplishes, nor how many accolades are thrown your way, there will always be that lingering doubt. I doubt if any PCV ever finished their tour without thinking that he, or she, could have done more, done it better, and done it faster, if only ------. Briony, it’s all part of the package.
So, do what you can, with what you have. Remember: it’s about THEM, not YOU. As much as possible, try to put yourself into the background while pushing to the front those with whom you are teaching and working. Aim for truly having a We-Us experience.

The real goal of our work as Peace Corps volunteers guest is to learn from, and to teach our host nationals. You will go, and they will stay. If they carry on and use what you, and they, began . . . treat yourself to a latte, you have done your job.
Best wishes and thanks for volunteering for our Peace Corps, and doing what you can in these troubled times. Hang in there.
Miguel Lanigan
Box 1614
Clearlake Oaks, California

whatever said...

Dittos to Miguel!!!
I bet there are many families in samoa that would love for you to help with their children's homework, tell them stories about your life here in America, teaching them how to speak English, and you, Samoan, etc....they will be grateful for it. There is probably a limit of what you should do while int he P.C. progarm, though.