Thank you, Peace Corps!

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Congratulations and a thank you are in order today. 

And none more deserving than the great American men, women, the Samoan families and everyone who has played a role in the facilitation of the Peace Corps programme over the years.

Yesterday on Beach Rd, the nation paused to honour the volunteers as they celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Peace Corps in Samoa. 

The celebrations continued last night and will continue over the next few days as thousands of people involved over the years share their fond memories of Samoa.

It must be said that 50 years is not a short period of time. It is a long stretch during which anything without a solid foundation could have broken down and disappeared without a trace.

But the Peace Corps programme has not. It continues strongly today as a reminder to us all that there is so much goodness in this world. 

This success though is directly connected to the rock solid foundation upon which it was established. Back in 1961, John F. Kennedy established the organisation not just as an agency to provide technical assistance, but also with the larger vision of promoting global peace and friendship.  

Samoa has benefited largely from this vision. Those values and more is what the Peace Corps programme has been offering the people of Samoa for all these years so that today, it’s impossible to imagine what life would be like on these shores without them.

Indeed, many people have stories to tell. Most of the leaders in government, businesses and in other faculties of life in Samoa would have encountered a Peace Corp volunteer one way or another during their school years. 

The comments by the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, in congratulating the Peace Corps, is a great example. 

Listen to him: 

“The Peace Corps Volunteers have served Samoa since 1967 and through their kind assistance to schools, many Samoans have been successful in their education, many families and communities have had their lives enriched through various ways as a result of their work. 

“I am one of the many Samoans who have benefitted from the tremendous work Peace Corp volunteers have given to Samoa since 1967 and it is my honor to acknowledge with gratitude the work of past and present Peace Corp Volunteers.

“As Minister of Education, I am most thankful for the invaluable support provided to our primary schools to improve literacy and numeracy. 

“Samoa and Peace Corps have had a very long association, and in Education, we continue to value our partnership and look forward to many more years of working together for the common goal of improving education in Samoa. 

“To the Volunteers, Many of our people speak fondly of their Peace Corps teachers of the past and of today. No doubt you have also enjoyed your Samoan families and friends and I am sure you will have lasting memories of your experiences here.

“I have no doubt that leaving your homes and families for two years to dedicate your services to another country is not easy, but your passion to serve others through Peace Corps makes your journey all worthwhile.” 

Well said Minister Loau. 

We could not agree more that all these people deserve to be commended. Their dedication to the service of others and to promote a desire to make a difference and be the difference is wonderfully inspiring. 

But for any relationship to work, all parties have to do their part.

Which brings us to the point that while Peace Corps Volunteers have had an impact on Samoa, Samoa has also had an impact on them.

“When Volunteers leave Samoa, they leave with an indelible mark, like an invisible tattoo, that signifies the impact Samoa has had on them.  

“All Volunteers carry this with them wherever they go after their service.  

“This tattoo is not only the mark of Fa’aSamoa but it is also a symbol of the deep friendships and relationships that Volunteers form, and of the love that Volunteers give and receive during their time in Samoa.”  

© Samoa Observer 2016

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