I am back from Poutasi and I am now in Apia. I had a slight culture shock when I arrived in Apia. I felt a bit strange due to my experience in Poutasi, regarding village life. I saw that the women in the city were dressed less modestly, and I kept a tighter hold on my personal belongings. I missed the freedom of the village in terms of walking down the street at night with just a dim street lamp guiding my way. Children yelling out “Palogi” pronounced “Paalangi” which refers to white people in the South Pacific. The slow pace of village life, which is often focused on meeting and greeting family and friends. I felt very welcomed in Poutasi and had various opportunities to understand Samaon culture such as participating in cava, and Chief committee meetings.
I felt a bit sad to see McDonalds in Apia, and the hussel and bustle that is often associated with city life in order to make a good Tala (dollar). I did however spend some time on my own walking the city and buying some gifts for my family back home who are missing me greatly. I felt a bit homesick and was greatful for the easy Internet in Apia connection so that I could Skype them often. At one point, I found myself at the Catholic church’s cafe in town. A magnificent building with beautiful art works and the doors on each side of the building open widel to allow the people and the sea breeze to enter.
I also had the priveldge of meeting the Vice President of the National Univeristy of Samoa to discuss how Swinburne university’s Industry Study Tour can become more involved and share knowledge with the NUS’s students. This was a great opportunity to talk with Professor Asofou So’o about student support services, retention, numeracy and literacy needs and how we could come together more regularly in the future to develop a lasting relationship that would benefit all involved.
I look forward to what the future holds for the Industry Study Tours such as those students who will take part in this unique unit offering that supports the enhancement of employability skills and understanding what global citizenship means in the 21st Century.
Written by Dr Rachael Hains-Wesson