Sunday, December 16, 2007

Swearing in

Swearing in

Swearing in

I am trying to decide how I feel about being an official Peace Corps Volunteer now. You know how I am with emotions.

“So Sara, how do you feel about (fill in the blank)?”

I think it was satisfying to successfully finish training and it was a little intimidating to think that this is it, you know, go out there and do something.

Our swearing in was held in the church at our training village.

And, if you don’t mind, I would like to take a little side trip here to talk about the church. Our village is primarily EFKS (which stands for Ekalesia Fa’apotopotoga Kerisiano i Samoa or the Congregational Christian Church of Sāmoa). The church and the fiafeau’s (pastor) house are brand new. Our village raised the funds and did all of the manual labor to big these two impressive structures. We have heard stories of the village women hauling tons of rocks from the river for the construction.

Ok, where was I? Oh, yes we were swearing in at the village church.

Our Associate Peace Corps Director, Fata*, made the opening remarks and ran the ceremony. The village pastor said a prayer. Then our training manager, HP, gave a speech about our training experience. The Associate Minister for the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, Solamalemalo Keneti Sio, gave the keynote address. He is also a former member of parliament and a former member of the Sāmoan rugby team. He cut quiet the imposing and distinguished figure. Country Director, Kim Frola, gave her final swearing in speech as CD of Sāmoa. Come February she will be leaving us and a new director will come in March.

Then we were given our oath. The Chargé d’Affaires administered the English version and the language training manager, Sa’u, administered the Sāmoan version. Ryan gave a thank you speech in English and Gal gave a thank you speech in Sāmoan.

We ended the ceremony with another prayer from the village pastor. He also made a short speech at the end that had several funny bits. The best part was when he told us we are always welcome back at his church and that when we get married we will get married in his church, especially the single ones (I guess indicating that Cale and I can feel free to get remarried in the church?). He then went on to mention that all the single volunteers should find Sāmoan men and women to marry and come back to his church for the wedding.

After the swearing in the village fed us and there was quiet a bit of gift exchange between the village and the Peace Corps — the PC giving money to the pulenu’u and the pulenu’u giving cloth, fine mats, food and three large cooked pigs to the PC.

Then we were whisked back to Apia where Cale and I went supply shopping for our move to our new house the next morning.

*There are two groups of volunteers that come into Sāmoa: Capacity Builders and Village Based Developers. Each group has its own APCD. We our Capacity Builders and Fata is our APCD.

— Sara

P.S. There are some great pictures of us with our host family up on flickr, but you can only view them if you are listed as a friend or family contact on flickr. If you want to see them, get a free flickr account and mark us as a contact on your account. I will make you a friend or family (if you are) and you will be able to see the pictures.

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