MJ Live

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Welcoming the Ambassador (Written 5/17/06)

Last night (Tuesday), we welcomed the new US ambassador for New Zealand, Bill McCormick, to Samoa. Apparently, Samoa is under his jurisdiction so he was given a tour of some of Samoa and even talked with the Prime Minister of Samoa. I guess it's true that you save the best for last because meeting Peace Corps was the last part of his very busy day. So to give the ambassador a good understanding of what Peace Corps is doing within Samoa, our country director asked some of us to give presentations about our projects – and even I was surprised by the wide variety of work Peace Corps does here (you know, when you're in the thick of things you sometimes lose perspective). So before our presentations, the ambassador got a tour of the Peace Corps office and talked to Kim (our country director) for a bit while we set up for the presentations. The ambassador told us a bit about himself and we found out that he worked with the Kennedy campaign and even knew some of the people involved in getting Peace Corps off the ground – so it was great to see someone in politics who really understands and appreciates the value that Peace Corps has on the developing world. Anyway, there were 8 presentations – each dealing with a different aspect of what Peace Corps does:

-Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries – Danielle Toole (Fishes and Coral)

-Chanel College – Marques Stewart (Information Technology)

-Samoa Water Authority – Virginia Smith (Water Purification)

-June Ryan School of Music – Selima Harleston (Music)

-Marist School – Joshua Schoop (Carpentry)

-Village Based Development – Rosie Lacey (Village)

-A'oga Fiamalamalama – Mari Bennett (Special Needs)

-Secondary Projects – Skye Brannon (Organizations Volunteers are involved with outside of their primary job)

As you can see, its quite a variety of skills and jobs we have on this little island and the ambassador was very impressed by all that we do. After the presentations were done, some of the volunteers performed a bit of a traditional Samoan FiaFia for him. The girls performed the 'Siva Teine' and the guys performed the 'Haku Paku' (which the ambassador had actually seen before). Then came the highlight of the night for all the volunteers – free food! Overall, it was a good night of not only sharing with the ambassador what we are doing here but also sharing with each other, because it's very easy to lose sight of the fact that we are all working here in very different areas and have very different skills for what we do. This may be a small island, but it's got a wide variety of needs.

No comments: