MJ Live

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thankful (Written 11/23/06)

Here we are folks, one year later at the first major US holiday I encountered in Samoa that made me miss home – Thanksgiving. First of all, I have to say that I'm in a much better state of mind then I was one year ago – not quite as depressed and missing home (although I do miss it, don't get me wrong) but we are now at the second of the three Thanksgivings I will miss, so it's not to bad. This isn't a post about being sad though – it's about being thankful. During this past year I have definitely learned and done a lot which I didn't know I was capable of and didn't think I was capable of – stretched to the limits and challenged in new ways. So it is with that mindset that I sit down – thinking of all those folks eating a big turkey meal on my behalf – and tell you what I am thankful for:

 -         I am thankful for my family. Everyone is still doing well and still supporting me on this journey, two very important things to me. One of the biggest concerns I had when I started this trip was 'Well what if something happened to someone while I was away'. And while you can't live your life with that mentality – otherwise you won't get anything done – it's a legitimate concern. Thankfully, one year into this, everyone is doing fine and my mind is at ease.

 -      I am thankful for my friends. There's always a concern that when you are gone as long as I have been gone people tend to forget you or not talk to you as much – that has not been the case at all. I have been able to keep in touch with all my friends and they have been of great support to me both with encouragement and sending me little packages or a kind word here and there. Big shout out to Amy, Jonas, Lindsey, Phillip and my partner in crime – Antony.

 -        I am thankful for Group 75. Amazingly enough, we still like each other one year later! We all still get along very well and we're a pretty tight knit group which definitely helps give you a solid foundation to work off of because the people you are most likely to talk about your problems with are the people from your own group – they are the closest thing to family I have here. So I'm thankful that we're still united and even though we lost two people, the core folks are still alive and living fa'asamoa!

 -       I am thankful to be living in Samoa. If you have a chance, check out what's happening in Tonga and Fiji right now – not very good stuff. But Samoa is definitely different – there's not even a hint of rebellion or a coup about to take place here. It's definitely a safe place and that's a true blessing – just to be able to wake up in the morning and know that something's not going to be burning down or the military is going to try to take over. For all the underlying problems Samoa has, political tension doesn't appear to be one of them.

 -     I am thankful to be working at Chanel College. Other then the 'great' bike rides up Mount Doom or the fact that it never floods up here – working at Chanel has definitely allowed me to grow both mentally and professionally. As I tell all the new trainees, only in Peace Corps could you be placed in such a position of power as the Head of a Department at my young age and people actually listen to you. It's a little overwhelming sometimes, but also cool and an experience I'll take with me for the rest of my life.

 -        I am thankful for Peace Chapel. The church that I go to is amazing; I have had a lot of spiritual growth in that place (as well as Sara M). Thinking back to the church experience I had in Falevao, I didn't expect to find a church that I felt comfortable at in Samoa – but if there's one person you never underestimate, it's God. Peace Chapel has definitely been an anchor for me spiritually in the tough times that occur during a Peace Corps 2 years of service and I'm thankful to have it.

 -        I am thankful to the readers that I have met, may never meet or will soon meet. Over the past year, I've had the amazing privilege to talk to a lot of people who have read this blog and then come to Samoa – I never expected that to happen when I started doing this back in 05. I'm always amazed when people come up to me (who have read my blog) and ask me about things I wrote here – it reminds me that there is an audience for this thing other then my family and friends – and being able to meet new people I would have never met before is a great experience. It's also fun when new trainees contact me through the site – a little weird sometimes but fun!

 -        I am thankful for the Peace Corps Samoa staff. After you get done with training, you just think that the Peace Corps staff would be these anonymous faces that you never get to know and all they want to do is just keep track of you. But that is not the case at all – our staff has been amazingly supportive and fun to be around. I can honestly say it's a joy to be around everyone because they care so much about us and because they care about us (the volunteers) we care about them and do our best to uphold the integrity of the PC. They make going into the office fun – not just a 'oh great, I have to go to the office' experience.

 -     I am thankful to have a great boss. You know, sometimes your boss pushes the wrong buttons every now and then but overall Father Kevin has been a great principle to work for – always on my side and looking for ways to improve my program. Some volunteers have had problems with their principals so I have been extremely fortunate that Kevin not only cares about the program he's motivated to make it the best in Samoa and that energy definitely has kept me motivated to keep going and pushing when my body and mind didn't want to keep pushing. Because of Kevin I was able to get the 2 other computer labs up and running a year ahead of my schedule – who knows what's in store for Year 2!

 -      I am thankful for football. Yeah, sorry – it's Thanksgiving! How could I not be thankful for the greatest game ever invented! Add to that the fact that I have been able to watch at least one game a week here (2 if I'm lucky!), been able to talk about it with my friends and family back home and my Chicago Bears are doing well (but not playing on Turkey Day) and I would be remiss if I weren't thankful for that. While Rugby is still the dominant sport of the Samoa, anytime I watch a NFL game others watch it and it gives me an opportunity to share my sport with them – we are suppose to share parts of our culture, and nothings more American then football.

There's problem more, but I think that's enough. I am thankful to have successfully completed my first year in Samoa and look forward to round 2. Enjoy Turkey Day and all the trimmings! Love ya!


Anonymous said...

I spent my thanksgiving getting lectured by my family on why I shouldn't join the Peace Corps. Thanks for reminding me of why I want to!


savaliolefilemu said...

It is good to see a Peace Corp volunteer who appreciates my country and thankful for all the positives it presents. It looks like you made the best of your first year in the situation are in, I guess it is true, anything is possible with God.