MJ Live

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Village Justice (Written Oct 28 2005)

It has now been confirmed: I am working at Chanel College as the computer studies teacher. Even though I get sworn-in in December I won't actually start the job until January when school goes back into session. As I said before I'll be working with the equivalent of US high school students teaching them basic computer software and hardware skills. I feel a lot better now that I know what I'll be doing here for two years – I now have something tangible to wrap my head around and get my mind off missing my family and friends.

            As for new news, today we got a taste of how a matai village meeting goes (kind like a town hall meeting with just the matai of the village). That matai (Ma-tie) system is hard to fully explain but in its simplest definition that matai are the spokespeople for the village – each one elected by the village family they represent. No matai, no say in village matters. Anyway, a few nights ago a few of us trainees decided to go for a walk – there were like 6 or 7 of us. Well, wherever we go, kids tend to gravitate towards us (and parents send kids to keep an eye on us) so we had like 15 kids ranging from 6 to 16 following us on this night walk. As you can probably guess, a few of the kids were rowdy and got out of hand a bit – mind you, a lot of these kids were uninvited by us they just started following us. Well somebody threw a rock that hit one of the trainees, Andrew, and after that we decided it was time to end the walk and get these kids home. Well we told our trainers (who said this has never happened before during PST) who then told the mayor & matai's that this type of activity was unacceptable. Even though no one got hurt, it makes us weary of enjoying the village at night when its not super hot and you can see the sky full of stars. That matai's then acted as quickly as possible and convened us at the same fale where we had our welcome to the village ava ceremony. They then went on to conduct a 30 minute Samoan apology which we accepted. The ceremony was a lot longer and more complicated then that sentence and sitting Indian style that long really hurts my hips. While we don't know if they caught/punished the rock thrower our trainers made it clear that if this happens again they may pull us out of the village. It's a good village with good people in it, but if we don't feel safe here – we gone! So this was like my first Samoan village court case. So, you may ask, what is the worst penalty the matai can hand down to the perpetrators: They can force their family to leave the village and give up the rights to their land. And owning land is the lifeblood of Fa'a Samoa – no land, no place to live. So hopefully this is the last time we have to deal with this type of situation. The Village Court is closed!   

            Camp Note: For those Camp Ozark readers, I have a question. In Samoa (and the Pacific Region in general) the girls play a game called 'Netball' which is similar to the game the oldest girls play on the soccer field with the nets on the side, what is the name of the game? I can't remember it for the life of me. Thanks in advance.


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