Peace Corps Samoa
In June 2008, I traveled to Samoa as a bright-eyed, idealistic Peace Corps trainee. I spent the next three months in a small Samoan village, learning Samoan culture and language, technical skills and other necessary skills alongside my fellow trainees of Peace Corps Samoa Group 80. On August 25, 2008, we swore in as bona fide Peace Corps volunteers, and we soon scattered in villages across the small country.
My title was "Village-based Development Volunteer" with a "Health Extension" focus. I was initially placed in a village called Lotofaga, on the southeastern coast of Upolu. I found my niche there working in the local primary school, and specifically, the library. For a variety of reasons, after only seven months in Lotofaga, I had to leave and was eventually relocated to a remote village on Savaii, the less populated, less developed of the Samoan islands. Again, I found my place working in the primary school library.
During my time working in Samoa, I frequently became frustrated, and I faced a number of challenges (from institutionalized corruption to dysentery), but my wonderful host family saw me through everything. They are amazing, funny, generous people. I still keep in touch regularly with Skype and Facebook. By the time I left Samoa, I had a traditional Samoan tattoo (called a malu), I'd acquired a fondness for 'ava, and had a pig named after me (still not totally sure if this was more compliment or insult).