On September 29, the De La Salle Colleges' 'Understanding Samoan Obligations (USO) Group,' embarked on a trip to the island nation of Samoa. The main purpose of the trip was to understand and learn about the Samoan culture and way of life.
The group consisted of 14 Samoan students, one Tongan student, seven members of staff including Principal, Myles Hogarty and parents. The group travelled to both main islands of Samoa and were hosted in several villages by the parishioners of the local Catholic Church.
Year 7 student, and youngest member of the group, Sae Edward Muliaga summarised his experience in the following letter which showcases how the trip offers participating students the opportunity to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of their culture.
My name is Sae Edward Muliaga and I am the youngest member of the USO group and the only Year 7 student. I am so humbled to be part of this group which has given me the opportunity to experience the depth of my own Samoan culture. I learned that life in Samoa is much harder than I thought, yet also so simple. I realised that the material things do not matter, as long as you have a roof over your head, food from your plantation or the sea, the fellowship of your 'fanau' (family) and most importantly, as the Bible says, LOVE. Samoan's don't have very much, yet they give so much love and compassion and they are always happy. The local 'usos' (brothers) that are my age took so much pride in their home-made checker game, which was our daily evening game when staying in our host 'fale' (house). They did not need any toys from the shop to have fun.
I witnessed sharing, service and much respect for their elders from the younger generation. Despite the heat, the island is a beautiful place. This trip gave me the opportunity to make new friends and even find cousins that I never knew I had. I have so much to be grateful for including:
- The boys in our USO group for always looking out for me as their little brother, and the adults who I came to call 'uncles and aunties'.
- The village of Malie for hosting us, especially my host parents and siblings for taking me in as one of their own.
- The USO group and De La Salle College for this memorable experience.
I have learned to appreciate the little things in life, the outdoors and each individual person I came across on the trip. The most important thing I learned was the unconditional love of the Samoan people and my appreciation of my Samoan culture.
Faafetai tele lava Samoa.
By Patrick Heenan, Share the Mission volunteer 2017, Managere East.