Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fiafia Night for Groups 1,2 and 79

It’s that time of year yet again… another new group arrived in the country October 10th. Group 79, who are essentially the group that replaces my group. With the arrival of a new group usually also brings the fiafia that the current volunteers and staff hold to welcome them into the country. However, this time, things were a little different…

2007 marks the 40th anniversary of Peace Corps service in Samoa. Along with the t-shirts, events and other fun things PC had planned throughout the year, a previous group decided to return and join in on the anniversary. Group 1 and 2 (the first and second groups to ever serve in Samoa) came back for their 40th anniversary. They flew into the country on October 17th and so we thought it would be fitting to include them in our usual fiafia. Friday morning of the 19th there was a huge parade in Apia honoring Peace Corps and our service here. All current volunteers were asked to participate and Groups 1 & 2 was included as well. It was a big deal with many speeches and the Prime Minister making an appearance.

Our usual fiafia was held later that night. Along with special guests Groups 1 & 2, we also had the Prime Minister attend. That turned out to be a fairly big deal. We had to do things a little differently and a little more officially. Since all of these special guests were attending, the volunteer and staff community really had to increase the amount of food we usually prepare for the fiafia. I ended up making 2 spinach and onion quiches and brought 2 liters or orange juice. One of the nice things about being the group heading out, is that you are among the first to eat, so I got a nice sampling of all the food prepared. The fiafia started with an ava ceremony in which we welcomed the returning volunteers (RPCV) back. One RPCV did something pretty unique. He brought a fine mat with him that he was given 40 years ago from a student of his when he finished his service. This RPCV was from Corvallis Oregon. One of the new trainees (Aaron) from Group 79 is also from Corvallis. The old volunteer gave Aaron the fine mat and told him that he had to return in 40 years and pass it off to another new trainee… I think that’s a pretty cool tradition to start.

The taupo (a traditional female dance done at the end of our fiafia) is usually performed by a girl in the group leaving. Both Candice and I had wanted to do it, but she won the coin toss. In the end I am glad that it was her who got to dance because her school got way more into dressing her up and preparing her than mine ever would have.

In the end it was a fun night; sad it is my last fiafia. The new group seems fairly nice, though I didn’t really get a chance to talk with many of them. I was a little self conscience at first because of the skin infection on my face, but in the end, who am I trying to impress? :) Enjoy the pictures.
The ava ceremony. Everyone seated in back are volunteers.
Candice's Taupo dance. She's wearing a fine mat and look at that head piece!
One of my students who transfered early in the year showed up. She is related to Leata, part of the training staff. Mom - she is Faatafa who was staying with my neighbors. Notice the soars on the face... ew! At least it wasn't that bad anymore. :)


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