Monday, December 7, 2009
Emerging from the Foray: A Look Back at Training
After 2 months of interminable training, all 20 of us have emerged from the foray that is training. With only a day left before we swear-in and become official Peace Corps Volunteers, I have been trying to wrap my head around what exactly has happened these past 8 weeks. Initially, I thought it would be best to describe everything as it had occurred in real time, accounting for all anecdotes in chronological order. However, to better encapsulate the experience it would be best to summarize a few memorable moments to illustrate it all in the most convenient and efficient manner.
The Training Village: Manunu
Manunu is perhaps the one ideal village in all of Samoa to hold training. Situated in the mountains (safely tucked away from Tsunami paranoia) between a Mormon village, which is home to the most spectacular waterfall I have ever seen, and another village which does not affect life in Manunu and really is not worth mentioning.
Manunu is designed so that the entire village, including its church (Congregational Christian Church of Samoa) encircles an enormous grass field where people, chickens, and dogs congregate throughout the day. With about a total of 30 households in all of Manunu, the village is small relative to other Samoan villages. While only about 350 people inhabit the village, you would be pleasantly surprised to discover that Manunu is anything but tranquil and untroubled. For example, within the first 2 weeks, the Matai council (a leadership committee present in all villages) nearly banished a young man from the village for disorderly, and most shockingly... drunken behavior. Furthermore, a week later at a family-sponsored fia fia (party) wherein young adults from surrounding villages were invited to attend, I was groped on the dance floor which initiated another Matai meeting the following morning. As the transgressor was not a resident of Manunu, the council decided to take the issue to the village council to find the culprit and have him banished from his respective village. In fact, upon closer inspection village life is anything but simple and placid. Indeed, we all conveniently learned through social faux paux and other rather entertaining blunders, as I have just detailed, that this was going to be no vacation.
Disclaimer: Admittedly, as an ethnocentric dunderhead, much of the accounts are, needles to say, partial based on the meager years of experience and mostly based on my unsophisticated intellectual palate.