As I wrap up my first week on the beautiful island of Sāmoa, I’ve realized that the amount of adjusting and reflecting has made my days very discombobulated. It feels like it has been ages since I left the U.S. My days now are composed entirely of new aspects—mainly food, people, language, and culture— that have
put shoved me out of my comfort zone. Enjoy a few snippets of my week (and pictures) below:
“It’s a truism of transformation that if we want things to be different, we have to change ourselves.” – Cheryl Strayed
– I didn’t expect that after I stepped off the 20+ hour ride and participated in a traditional Āva ceremony (where I
butchered recited something in Sāmoan in front of many important people) that I would be in the paper and be on national TV. Talk about being pushed into the deep end…
– I didn’t expect that I would be living with a host family (for the next 10 weeks) who speaks minimal English, but the amount of love they are providing me allows me to feel secure and comfortable. Dinnertime conversations are nonexistent, but we’re learning to make it work.
– I didn’t expect that I would have to attend the first church service in our host community, which fell on White Sunday—a very important holiday in Sāmoa that celebrates children—and still feel the presence of God overcoming the language better.
– I didn’t expect that I would feel grateful and excited to sleep in a mosquito net and since there is no running water in my host home, that I would prefer to bathe in a natural pool by the sea over a bucket shower.
– I didn’t expect Bingo to be a thing here. My village LOVES Bingo—there’s a game EVERY night (except Sunday)—and they take it VERY seriously. It definitely provided me with a crash course in learning the numbers (“lima lima” = 55).
– I didn’t expect that going off the grid and not having steady internet access would feel this refreshing. I have enjoyed not feeling the “need” to be connected 24/7. Also, Sāmoan cell phone plans really jib you on data so I’m sorry if I don’t get back to your emails and messages in a timely way. I’m still figuring it all out.
– I didn’t expect that hearing “You’re doing great, sweetie” would fill me with so much laughter and support. Have I mentioned how much I love my group-mates? Because I really couldn’t imagine it without them. They have made this that much more of a soul smashingly beautiful experience and it’s only week one.
– I didn’t expect to feel such solace here. I feel so connected to my surroundings and the world around me. I wake up to the most awe inspiring blues of the Pacific and yet, even though I’m on this island in the corner of the world, I am able to look up and see the same sky I would see back in the U.S. or in Egypt. The same sky my family, friends, and strangers see if they were to look up. As my friend and group-mate, Susie, so eloquently put it: “It’s the same sky as Texas.”
There’s a transformative power in seeing the familiar from a new, more distant perspective and this lush island has taught me so much in the little time I’ve been here. I can’t wait to learn more!