Pasifika Project - The Container
Following two days of packing the container left Kristin School last Friday and has now arrived by ship into Apia. It will be ready for collection when the group of 20 students from Year 9-10 arrive on 9 July.
Thank you to all the supporters of the Pasifika Project 2016. You have all made a difference to the lives of the students of Poutasi Village.
Poutasi, Samoa - Arrival
An early wake up call was needed to get to Kristin School at 5.30am. We all gathered to bid our farewells to our families and embarked on our journey of 21 days in Samoa.
Arriving off the plane to the beautiful views of Samoa, a heat of 32 degrees and a light tropical rain storm, we ran to our van to transport us to Apia.
After a refreshing swim in the pool and a lovely dinner we headed off to the Apia Jazz Festival to perform several items with Mr Ah Sam. The container was cleared by customs and transported to Poutasi where a gang of local men emptied it in no time.
Poutasi, Samoa - Cultural Immersion
After a restful sleep the group assembled for the short walk to St. Anthony’s Catholic Church for the 9.15am Mass. In terms of immersion into Samoan culture this was a great insight for our students into the importance of religion to the Samoan people, and in particular the importance of Sunday as a day of reflection and rest. St. Anthony’s is the largest church in Apia and the interior is vast and incredibly ornate (as you can see from the photographs). The Kristin group were officially welcomed in the opening address of Father Mikaele Lafaele, unbeknown to the group it was Father Lafaele’s final service before he took up a new posting in Los Angeles. The Father’s sermon was very fitting for our group and the message from the parable of the Good Samaritan had many parallels to our mission of helping others without the expectation of anything in return other than understanding a new culture and developing new friendships.
After the service the group returned to our accommodation at the Amanaki for a quick swim before lunch at a local restaurant. The afternoon plan was to snorkel at the Palolo Deep Reef but this unfortunately had to be postponed due to rain and an onshore wind that made conditions unfavourable. A sightseeing drive down the coast before returning back to the Amanaki for some relaxation time and dinner rounded off an enjoyable first full day in Samoa for the group. Tomorrow sees the group head over to Poutasi and our first visit to Falealili Secondary School where we will be officially welcomed by the school.
Poutasi, Samoa - At the Village
Monday morning brought another beautiful Samoan day and after breakfast and a quick pack up the group took a walk into Apia to see the hustle and bustle of the market. After a short stop at the Samoan Cultural Village the group boarded the vans for the trip across the island to Poutasi Village and our accommodation and home for the next three weeks.
On arrival in Poutasi we made our way to Falealili Secondary School for our official welcome from the Principal, staff and students. The singing and smiling faces that greeted our arrival did wonders in settling any nerves the students had in immersing themselves into school and village life. After the welcome the group visited some classes and Falealili old boy and Poutasi’s first Kristin scholarship recipient Lamapeti spoke to his former classmates about his experiences and how it was good to be back to share with them all. There then followed some refreshments and it was back to the accommodation to sort out sleeping arrangements and other organisational matters. A good night of rest was in order to prepare everyone for their first real day at school the following day.
Poutasi, Samoa - Student Teachers
Yesterday the day started with Lorde singing to wake us up (the teachers plan something different for the alarm every morning).
We headed off to the school to join our buddies for their morning teaching periods and stayed for lunch. It was pouring down with rain but spirits were high. Some of us were surprised how if a teacher was away there was no reliever and the kids draw and just talk amongst themselves in the classroom. Alex and I enjoyed teaching the kids new dance moves during class and they especially liked the ‘dab’ move.
After lunch we headed off into Apia to the NZ High Commissioners residence and were met by the Deputy High Commissioner who talked to us about what his job is about. He was a good speaker and got straight to the point about his role. After his talk and a few questions by us, we went to have a swim in the residence pool to cool off before heading back over the hill.
In the evening we spent our time at the five star resort owned by Chief Joe called the Sinalei. They had really nice food and we all had seconds of everything. We met some really cool people like Tepe and Junior who were the waiters and also really cool dancers who could show us some moves. We also met the chef who was getting into the music of the night.
After our dinner we watched the cultural performances, the fire dancers and then we performed our sasa. We were a hit and got a big round of applause. For the remainder of the evening we got to chill, have some fun, make friends with another school group from Hamilton Boys High School and dance before heading back to our own fale to have a good nights sleep. By Alex and Harriet
Poutasi, Samoa - New Buddies
Today was massive. We started our day with dulcet rooster tones from Mr Ah Sam’s phone, which, was plugged into speakers. After breakfast we headed off to school again and joined in with classes and buddies until lunchtime. Harriet and I really enjoyed getting fake tattoos on our arms, which were drawn on by the school kids.
We went back to the fale for lunch and a swim before we headed back to the College to meet up with the students that were hosting us for the evening.
Alex: “My buddy was Timo. His family owned three large plantations of taro and coconut. He asked me if I wanted one and when I said yes, he just got his chainsaw and cut the tree down to retrieve one. We went back to the fale where he showed me how to husk it and then we fed it to the pigs. He also cut down some sugar cane which was a sweet treat”.
Harriet: “I went home with Tuvalu. When we arrived I was very nervous as her whole family and friends were at the house. I went and sat with her aunty and I got introduced to all of her brothers and sisters. After we had been sitting for a very long time, she told me to go and help her go and tidy up from the funeral they were hosting for their family relative. Once we’d tidied up, we headed off for a swim with others from the school. I met up with new friends and caught up with Jess who was with her buddy. After swimming I got given some dinner. I was a bit nervous about the meat because it was sitting in the sun for the whole day so to be polite I said I was a vegetarian. The other stuff I had was called sapasui, which was like a noodle dish and it was really good. The cousins came over, taught me some new Samoan words and exchanged Facebook names. Before I left I took photos and exchanged gifts. I got a really nice lavalava. It was really neat and a different experience to see what the Samoan family way of life is like." By Alex and Harriet
Poutasi, Samoa - Hard Work
Friday was really about survival. The entire group was absolutely shattered from all of the hard work and late nights that had become the norm throughout the week. However, we only had one more day to struggle through before we would get the chance to kick back and relax over the weekend. Over the day, we were working in a half-asleep daze, much to the surprise and amusement of our buddies. But there were some interesting moments to snap us out, for example, when my billet’s mother was my English teacher! That was an interesting trip down memory lane!
Coming back to the fale was also interesting; the teachers had obviously been busy while we were out. Most of our sheets were hanging out in the courtyard, and there were loud crashing and booming noises emanating from our washhouse roof. It was explained to us that the teachers planned to allow our sheets to get a much-needed wash while we were out for the weekend. To be fair, our living environment was starting to become a biohazard! The washhouse roof had also been damaged in a cyclone, and the banging was merely repair work. After lunch, we had two and a half hours to prepare our gear for our trip away, relax, and spend our money up at the Samoan dairy.
We then drove about ten minutes down the Samoan coastline to Vaiula Beach Fales, our home away from home for us to rest and recuperate away from the rigors of Poutasi life! We claimed our fales, dumped our bags, and fell asleep almost immediately. By Jack
Poutasi, Samoa - Coconut Husking
Friday was supposed to be a day where we could laze around with nothing to do. But our teachers had quickly realised that there was no way twenty teenagers could be expected to sit and do nothing for twelve hours. So we had activities planned, but also had a large amount of downtime in between.
The first item on the agenda was coconuts. We were taken to a building behind the fales, where a mound of unfamiliar shapes awaited us. Apparently, coconuts don’t fall in the obvious, bowling-ball shape we know so well. They fell in a husk, which we had to remove to get at the coconut beneath. The husk was to be removed by impaling the coconut on a sharp stick, before prising the husk off. It was a lot more difficult than peeling oranges! Once the husk was off, we had to break open the coconut. Our eyes roved for another intricate contraption to break the nut. A circular saw would do. Instead, we were handed a stone. Not a sharp stone, just a stone. A few good strikes with that smashed the nut, revealing the insides of the coconut. The water inside we gulped down with glee, before moving to the next station. This required us to use a contraption that looked like the inside of a shark’s mouth to shave of the coconut flesh inside the shell. This was the hardest part, not because it was physically strenuous, but because it was so hard to get the hang of. Many times did our Samoan observers lose patience with us, and snatch the nut to show us their ways. Again. I am pretty sure I shaved off part of my finger with the flesh in one really bad stroke!
That was the order of our day before lunch. After the midday meal, we partook in weaving activities. Most of us were coming into this lesson with little to no weaving ability, so this was a spectacular test of patience for our Samoan teachers. By the end, we were split into four groups. Those who had picked it up immediately, those who struggled, but managed to pick it up, those who tried, but ultimately were destined for other things, and those who just didn’t try. I’m happy to say the 4th group was the smallest, and the 2nd the biggest. In fact, we had a sizable pile of intricate creations piled up. And a very sizable pile of complete and utter failures. But hey, you learn from your mistakes, right? Well, if you do, then I must be a complete weaving master.
However, our day wasn’t done yet. We had yet to welcome to our fales very special guests. Lamapeti and his family were due to visit our abode. We were happy to greet them, and we had one member of our group who already knew them. Mr Murray made a speech of welcome, and our groups sang to each other. We sang E Toru Na Mea, and Lamapeti’s family responded with a song that they learnt in Sunday school. Finally, to round up the welcome, we performed our Sasa for them. This was our most low-key performance we would have on this trip, but we still gave it our all, attracting other guests to the scene.
We spent the rest of the day mingling with the family, playing sport and eating dinner. Many of the items used were recognisable from our efforts throughout the day. For example, the bowls were efforts of our weaving, and there was a special dip/sauce made of our ground coconut. And the meat had been cooked on a fire. The fuel for said fire? Coconut husks and coconut shells. By Jack
Poutasi, Samoa - Relaxation
Today we started off the day going old school and hand writing letters to you all at home. Hopefully you guys will get those in around about 3 days!
We packed up our beach Fales and headed off to Lalamumu beach one of the nicest beaches in Samoa. It was really warm and the water was so clear and blue you could see everything under you. Meanwhile some of the girls took the opportunity to tan in the sun. We had a break from Samoan food and had some classic burgers and chips for lunch.
Next we went to To Sua ocean trench which was definitely the highlight of the day. There was a small walk down and a steep ladder to get to the platform in which we jumped off. The current was pretty strong but luckily there was a rope to hang on to. We explored the small cave and had lots of fun in the refreshing water. It was an amazing view and experience and we definitely took some memorable photos. A few of us also went to look at the rock pools to watch the waves come in.
After a long day we went back to our big Fale, at least most of us did. Mrs Newbold decided to take a scenic detour right across to the other side of the country, while the rest of us were locked outside waiting for the key, which Mrs Newbold conveniently had. After what felt like days waiting, jobs finished, and dinner ready to be served (apart from the fact that we had no plates and cutlery, since they were inside); they rocked up blasting Katy Perry.
Overall it was a great and exciting day full of new experiences and memories we will never forget. We are eagerly anticipating meeting all the new people at the Primary school tomorrow morning.
Hope you receive your letters soon! By Alyssa, Sami and Kate
Poutasi, Samoa - Primary School
Today we were welcomed into Salelua-Poutasi Primary School. It was extremely different to Falealili Collage. We drove into the school where we were marched into the school by a very talented marching band. The band marched us around the field. The principal of the school then led us over to an umu, where there were people preparing lunch for us. We looked down and there was a dead pig lying on some big banana leaves. As we stood around the people preparing our food got a knife and started to dissect the pig before us. It was interesting to see how the pig was prepared.
Quickly, we moved away from the umu and back to the flagpole where the rest of the primary school was gathered. The student of Salelua primary sang a song to us. Their voices blew us away. A little 5-year-old girl then stood up at the front to sing the national anthem whilst the flag was raised. She was super cute, super proud and super brave to stand up in front of us (palagi) and sing her national anthem.
After morning prayers were finished, we were invited into the hall where we took part in a traditional ceremony, the kava ceremony, which was performed by the chiefs of the village. Everyone got a chance to drink the kava, which is the water from the roots of a tree. The water is supposed to make your mouth, hands and feet numb however none of us drank enough of the ava for that to happen. Personally, I did not like the taste of the ava water although others didn’t mind it. We were invited into another room after the ceremony had finished, where the school had prepared a yummy breakfast for us. When breakfast was finished it was time for morning tea.
Morning tea was crazy. The students of the school all ran to find a Kristin buddy to hang out with. Everywhere you looked there were Kristin students surrounded by little kids. It was pretty full on but it was fun and all of the students from Salelua Poutasi School were friendly, cute and funny.
We went and sat down in the school hall after morning tea ended. The girl who sang the national anthem sang us a song, the marching band performed a few pieces. In the marching bands pieces the trombone players played the song with their feet. The older students had prepared some songs and danced for us. They were all amazing but there was one boy in particular who was really good at dancing. Luckily, we got to dance with them at the end.
At lunch, Jack and Levi had a sandwich eating contest. Levi won with 13 sandwiches; Jack managed to eat 12. When lunch ended we hopped into the vans and went back to fale.
Everyone except Thomas and I then went to the waterfall because of Thomas’ broken arm and because I’m slightly sick. We’ve just been at the fale folding washing, eating chocolate and writing the blog. As soon as everyone gets back from the waterfall we are planning on painting the storage fale and other jobs. By Thomas and Charlotte
Poutasi, Samoa - Teaching the Children
Grace - Today we worked alongside the teachers to experience and learn about the life and way of learning in Saleilua Primary School. We were flanked by students from some of our first steps into the school grounds and surrounded as we attempted to communicate and teach the students different memory games and read them English books. Despite the constant stream and introductions of students you never failed to encounter new and smiling faces. After a welcoming chorus of pride filled student voices we enjoyed a light breakfast before the beginning of a long day with the varied ages of students. Nate, Thomas, Kate, Cam and I decided to embrace the challenge of the Year 1s/2s, where we merged in with the students by reading them books and playing memory games with them, during which more people came and joined our large class. Sami and I tried to explain to the kids how to sing some English songs but resulted in an embarrassing duet of The Wheels On The Bus when we realised we were the only ones singing.
Nate/Grace - Throughout the day we were able to experience the way the children learned through different songs and dances allowing the younger children to express their excitement and energy towards us. Even this form of exercise wasn’t enough to dull the excitement of the students. The promising ring of the bell hoped to relieve most of us of our clinging mass of children hanging from our necks, arms and legs, the thought of sitting down and relaxing under a tree in the warm sun was the best thought after hours with the children but through the duration of recess multiple games of rugby, soccer and running races were on a never ending loop. Even from the lack of rest our enjoyment never faded and boredom was considered extinct with children like these.
Nate - After lunch there were many sad children as they thought of our departure as a good-bye forever. Attempting to reassure them that we would be back tomorrow, we waded through the dense swarm of children as they tried to anchor us on the school grounds but when the sight of the vans and the consideration of A.C. over the hot glaring sun, our molasses-like walk turned into a slicing speed walk trying to part through the children and make a quick dash for the now heavenly considered vans.
Grace/Nate - When we arrived home the welcoming beds and cold showers greeted us and we gratefully accepted. Several chores to do around the house and fale but nothing that was too much for us to handle. After a long day of hard, tiring and slightly exasperating work, a warm dinner and wind down was the perfect form of medicine and one of the best endings to a pretty fulfilling day. By Nate and Grace
Poutasi, Samoa - Youth Group
Today we rushed to school to make the 8.30am flag raising at Saleilua Primary School. We were welcomed by many songs and a bunch of Year 2-3's singing the national anthem. After a prayer, we went and had a second breakfast that included many dishes of delicious food. Then throughout the day we went to the classrooms of Year 1-8 and taught a variety of subjects to the students. Jessica and I taught Year 3 how to draw fish, but many of them would just cling onto us and not let go. I have heard that many of the other students on this trip have been nearly crushed with a flurry of children fighting over whose hand gets held. Mr Murray and Year 8 students also started to hang up tarpaulins over the primary school’s windows, as they had no protection from the rain.
After school everyone slumped down on their beds, too tired to move, but once the teachers announced that we were going to the waterfall all of us were up and moving. When we got to the waterfall a team of students went looking for Thomas’s GoPro, which he lost a few days ago. Some people also went jumping off high rocks into the water, which most of us thought sounded very painful.
For dinner we went to a youth group gathering, where everyone was happy that there was fried chicken. The Kristin students also did our Sasa and the other members of the youth group taught us national Samoan dances, where everyone got involved. After dinner we accepted a gift and said our thanks. By Lauren
Poutasi, Samoa - Sports Day
Today we journeyed to Saleilua Primary School to prepare a sports day for the students. Before we arrived at the school we had each planned activities in small groups that would entertain the kids for at least 15 minutes. My group consisted of Jack, Lauren and me and we decided to play Octopus – a game were players had to run from one side of the area to the other without getting tagged. If you are tagged you must stand still, with your arms out and try to tag all of the other players. Anyway, after we arrived at the primary school everyone got into their groups, claimed a space, set up their equipment, and prepared themselves for the onslaught of students. All the children were separated into year groups, except for Year 1-2, who were combined. My group ended up starting off with Year 4. They picked up the game rules really fast and we were able to start a full game quickly. We then progressed with the Year 1-2s, Year 6 and Year 8. Each time adjusting the size of our running distance to suit the year level.
We then had a thirty-minute break where we were served a delicious morning tea and then went to play with the kids before setting up again for the last few rounds of students.
After the break we had two more year groups to go before we were done. My group had Year 5 and Year 3. The Year 5s picked up the game alright, but the Year 3s didn’t do so well. They would not listen to us and kept fighting with each other. In the end we ended up taking them for a run to use up their energy instead.
Overall it was a really fun, but very challenging day and we were all extremely exhausted by the end of it. By Jessica
Poutasi, Samoa - Farewell Ceremony
We had a lovely relaxing weekend at the fale in preparation for our final three days in Samoa. Today we went to the College for our final goodbyes to all the Falealili students. We started off the day by moving around the school learning about how Samoans prepare for traditional ceremonies. This includes weaving bowls and baskets from the leaves of a coconut tree, cooking a traditional umu and other cultural foods. Following these activities, we spent interval eating a morning tea of papaya and coconut soup, fresh bread and eggs. Then it was time to change into specially made outfits ready for the farewell ceremony. The girls dressed in a red patterned dress while the boys wore a shirt and their school shorts. The teachers also rocked blue dresses and shirts. As we walked into the hall, we were welcomed by the school singing a Samoan song and ulas (a flax woven item hung around your neck like a big necklace). Everyone was feeling quite nervous and didn’t want to say goodbye! First of all, we were invited to perform our Sasa, farewell song and Nate’s guitar solo. Then each year level from Falealili performed their own item (dance or song) to us. One of the best moments was when the Year 13 boys brought us up to dance along with them. After the performances they came up and presented us with gifts from the school (lava lavas, bracelets and necklaces). Then it was time for the tear-jerking speeches… first came Mr Murray followed by their Principal. By the end of it, everybody was feeling quite emotional and dreading the final goodbye as all the students departed school. The school had already prepared another authentic lunch but most students were preoccupied with saying their last goodbyes to their friends. Some held back the tears while others failed and broke down. After many tears were shed and gifts exchanged students left.
Overall this has been a very emotional and long day for all of us but we have one more farewell to prepare for tomorrow. By Sami and Ella
Poutasi, Samoa - Final Farewell
Today was another sad day as we said farewell to Saleilua and Poutasi Primary. We got a nice sleep in and arrived at 9:30. The farewell ceremony started with a few speeches and prayers. Some of the girls and Alex performed a song to the school, followed by our Samoan farewell song. We were then treated to some awesome items from the Primary school such as songs, dances and another farewell song. There were a few tears from teachers and students of both schools so we decided to lighten the mood with a dance party. After we had all exchanged of thank you's, the school presented us with even more lavalavas and other samoan crafts. We were speechless and so grateful and appreciative of everything they have done for us.
Once the ceremony had finished lunch was served but we all rushed out to spend our last lunchtime with our buddies and friends. As we were walking out of the school for the final time, all the students lined up along the field and created a tunnel for us to walk through, saying their final goodbyes as we passed.
We then travelled over the hill into Apia for our final big shop. Many gifts were brought and we returned home carrying weapons, wooden crafts, necklaces and many more, however the teachers said no lava lavas as we already had been given more than enough!
For dinner we were hosted by Chief Joe. He and his wife, Tammy, assisted by their 2 guests put on an amazing dinner of both traditional Samoan food and things like Pasta and Bread which we appreciated. We were able to express our thanks to Chief Joe and his family as he is very supportive of the project and we wouldn’t be able to do it without him. They gifted us each with handmade lava lavas and we decided to try to mix Samoan and NZ culture by presenting them with NZ gifts on a mat in front of them. After a couple of farewell songs, some dancing and hugs we returned to our Fale for the final night.
See you all in less than 48 hours!!! By Alyssa and Sami