A few nights ago was women’s night for training so some women current volunteers took us to one of their houses and cooked for us! They made lasagna, crab and mango salad, and cheesecake for desert. They warned us that we wouldn’t appreciate right now how much we would miss those foods in a few months and this was certainly unusual to eat them. They talked with us about the culture for women in Samoa, how to deal with certain scenarios, and what and what not to do. It left me with a mixture of relief and apprehension. Some of the things that they mentioned are: always wear your hair up while in public, don't tell a male teacher no if they ask you to do something until you gain rep, don't look men in the eye or they think you're coming on to them. But on the other hand, because we are women, our host families are extra protective of us and go out of there way to ensure that we are safe while living with them. That makes me feel good :) It'll be like having a second family. So I guess in the end I feel really good.
On that note - I'm moving in with my first host family today when we move to Utulaelae Village! I’m definitely nervous – how has this first week already finished?! I won’t have ANY internet while I’m there, so I may be out of contact for close to 6 weeks. We were told that several host families have showers without walls, out in the middle of the yard. So all the women yesterday went into one of hotel rooms and Leata, our language teacher, taught us how to shower while wearing a lavalava. She was an absolute riot, singing, and going on and on about how she loves showers. It’s quite an intricate process, holding out from your body to use soap, then not flashing, and then rinsing. It was funny watching her since she was hysterical, but at the same time I’m so nervous if I get one of those host families. I’m sure I’ll get it eventually, but for right now I’ll probably flash a few times by accident before I get it haha.
Language training has been going great! We’ve been making sure that we have the alphabet down and knowing what the word is when someone says it. We’ve also learned our first basic greeting conversation!
Talofa Lava Hello to you
Oa mai oe How are you?
Manuia fa’afetai, ae a oe? I’m good, thanks, how are you?
Manuia fo’i fa’afetai I’m good as well
So I feel accomplished :) haha though if I said it to someone on the street they’d probably stare because it’s kinda formal.
Last night we had a welcome fiafia (party) put on by the outgoing volunteers. They did AMAZING traditional dances for us and put on a fashion show of different types of clothes and styles of wearing the lavalavas. Afterwards, we all went down to the pool and there was a firedancer! Absolutely AMAZING (and gorgeous). Had my definite first time of “flirting” though for when he first came out, he paused and said, “Can Michelle come spend time with me afterwards?” Legit. Everyone turned and looked at me. Aaaaaah that was nice :) …of course though, I couldn’t go and talk to him since the gossip probably would’ve reached my new host family before I even got there. But it was nice anyways.
I’ve become the official seamstress of the group. Karen, our operations officer, lent me her sewing machine. A bunch of us have bought fabric for lavalavas and so I’ve been hemming and adding tie strings to them. For those of you who don’t know, lavalavas are a piece of fabric about 2 yards long that you wrap around your waist. They’re in gorgeous, vibrant colors so I’ve had a fun time picking mine out. Another piece of clothing that you find here in Samoa is the puletasi. They are formal outfits, though all teachers wear them to school. They consist of a lavalava skirt bottom, then a top of the same or similar fabric. They’re really beautiful, but the former volunteers warned that they’re wicked hot. I’ve managed to snag two of them from a donation box that former volunteers put unwanted ones into. They’re not the most pretty ones but I needed one for the move into the training village. Apparently our host families will lend us dresses for the first few weeks of teaching while we work up our own collection. There’s a huge mix of designs from large ruffles, to off the shoulder, to shorter skirt. So we’ll see what I end up with eventually.
View of our hotel
My friend Angelina and I
Rhoda, my security trainer
Sorry this entry was so long! A lot has happened in the last few days. I’ll keep a diary over the next few weeks then once I get internet I’ll upload a few at a time. So I’ll talk to you all in a few weeks. Bye!