Friday, October 21, 2005

Things I'll miss

As I near the end of my time in here, I find myself becoming more and more reflective. Every moment seems to capture an essence of Samoa that I will forever want to carry with me. Such a moment, happened several days ago that I would like to share with you all.

It was a particularly hot day. The kind of hot day that makes wiping sweat off your brow pointless because it will only reappear with in 5 seconds. I was carrying my duffle bag full of GRE studying materials and two very heavy plastic bags full of groceries along Beach Road. I had walked about a mile from the market on my way to the Peace Corps office under the "big burning ball of hate" (a.k.a. the sun) when a young, short, little boy who, could not have been a day over nine, walked up beside me and asked me in the traditional Samoan greeting, "Where are you going?" I've grown accustomed to this greeting in the last two years but, in the hot sun, my tired body reverted back to thinking that this was an intrusion of my privacy. I thought, why does this little boy care and why does he want to speak to me? Is it just because I'm a palagi (white person). I answered with an abrupt one word answer of my destination. He continued to walk beside me and I quickly realized that I should be nicer to this friendly little boy and then returned the question to him in Samoan. He seemed relieved to know that I spoke Samoan and we struck up a pleasant conversation. He soon offered to carry my heavy bags. I told him he could carry one of my grocery bags but he insisted on carrying both of them, which most likely weighed near close to his own body weight. He carried them the entire distance left to the Peace Corps Office even despite it being a bit off the course of where he was heading. I was not afraid that he was trying to steal my bags for reasons being that one, I knew I could outrun this little guy and two, because he was really only acting out the traditional role of what a Samoan young boy would do to serve his elders or guests. When we reached the office, I offered to buy him a soda or snack but he refused and quickly turned away to head to wherever he was going. He wanted nothing from me except to show traditional Samoan hospitality and service. I highly doubt I will encounter 9 year-old strangers in America who will offer to carry my heavy bags in the hot sun and who would also refuse any payment for service. This kindness and generosity I will no doubt greatly miss upon my return home.


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