The Mark of the Jandal

Monday, December 26, 2005

Arrival

We arrived in Apia on the 12th of October. The plane ride wasn't too bad. I slept for four hours then for two. We landed around 3am and there were a herd of people waiting here to greet us. We all got layed right there at the airport. The ride from the airport went by pretty quick partially because I was out of it and partially because the other volunteers were there to talk to us. I met one girl who was from Fayetteville. They dropped us off at the hotel in Apia where we will be spending some of our time during training. A lot of us stayed up, drank coconut juice, and watched the sunrise. Because of the jetlag, everything seemed really surreal. I took a nap around six for an hour and a half and the scheduled events started pretty late. I spaced out my sleeping such that the jetlag didn't bother me after the first day. We met the staff who are mostly Samoan, and they are really nice good natured folks. The Peace Corps has been here since 1967. They were asked to come after a cyclone/typhoon tore into the country. Since then, they have really helped build up the infrastructure. For example, to improve education volunteers will take over classes for teachers while they get higher degrees in the US or at the University here. It's all focused on sustainable development to prevent people from being dependent on foreign aid. So many of the people seem appreciative of the Peace Corps and the US.

The training period is interesting. We will spend the first ten days at a hotel in Apia, the capital. It's about the quality of an inexpensive hostel, but you know how easily I'm satisfied. After ten days, we will be going to a village to stay with a host family for a week. Evidently, there are a lot of Mormons here (I think 30% of the population), and they said one year they stuck all of the trainees in what was essentially a Mormon village. With the host family we spend our time working on our Samoan and trying to integrate ourselves into the community. This is the schedule:

Oct 12-20 Hotel
Oct 21-29 Village
Oct 30-Nov 04 Apia
Nov 05-12 Village
Nov 13-18 Apia
Nov 19-Dec 14 Village

The training finishes up on December 14th. At that point we start working at our assignments. There are fourteen of us: 5 doing information technology, two people doing social work, 4 people with vocational assignments, one person training teachers, and two people working at the university. Myself and a guy from Texas named Brian are going to work at the University of Samoa. He'll be teaching mathematics and it looks like I will be teaching chemistry. Brian managed to contact people before we got here and they told him that he and I will be living together in government housing and we will have Internet access in our apartment via a phone line. Until then I'm goto the Internet cafe and pay 15 tala/hour (2.7 tala/dollar) to connect my computer and download/send my email. Right now I'm sharing a room with Brian and another volunteer named Ryan.

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