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Since 1967, over 1,600 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Samoa, working in both urban and rural communities. Approximately 70% of the Volunteers have been teachers. The remaining 30% have worked in agriculture, health, public works, youth development, and the environment. More recently, Peace Corps' strategy has focused on capacity building efforts in information and communications technology; teacher training; and village-based assignments in agriculture, community development, and the environment.
Peace Corps History
== Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Samoa
In 1967, after experiencing a difficult year and a devastating cyclone, Samoa invited the Peace Corps. The first Volunteers worked in rural villages, leading health and hygiene projects for Samoa's Department of Health. These early Volunteers remain well-known for the introduction of water seal toilets, now affectionately called fale Pisikoa (Peace Corps houses).
The next groups to follow were civil engineers, architects, accountants, statisticians, and economic planners who served in various central government departments. One early Volunteer was the architect and construction supervisor for the present Parliament building at Mulinu’u and the supporting offices of the Legislative Assembly.
Volunteers also had a significant impact on infrastructure development, such as the Faleolo International Airport terminal and school buildings. Some took up prominent, executive positions in various government departments, such as acting directors of Public Works.
In health care, Volunteers have served as researchers in filariasis control (filariasis is a parasitic disease caused by a blood nematode), and they have worked at the National Hospital as nutrition educators and dietitians. Other Volunteers have worked as small business advisors and as youth development workers. ==
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Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Main article: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Samoa
All Volunteers are provided with adequate and safe housing. As part of their contribution to having a Volunteer, host country agencies and/or communities must provide adequate housing.
Capacity-building Volunteers live in houses provided by the Samoan government or a local nongovernmental organization (NGO). Most Volunteers in Apia share a house with another Volunteer or, in some cases, a Samoan counterpart. All houses in and around Apia have electricity and running water. All houses in the urban area have indoor toilets and showers.
Volunteers working in the village-based development project, either live in a room with a Samoan family or in a small house on a family compound. Volunteers in this project need to be prepared to live with or very close to a family for their entire two years of service. This is a requirement of working in the project. Most (but not all) villages have electricity. Most (but not all) villages have running water within the family compound, but not necessarily inside of the house.
Main article: Training in Samoa
Pre-service training will provide you with the essential skills needed to successfully complete your Peace Corps service. The skills focus around integrating into your community and developing and implementing an appropriate work plan with your community and counterparts. Training includes six major components: technical training (covering life and work) and the role of the Volunteer in development, language training, cross-cultural training, health training, safety and security training, and diversity training.
A community-based training model is the backbone of pre-service training for all new Volunteers in Samoa. This means that living and learning successfully in a local host community is an integral part of our training program. This is a more difficult training model in some respects, as the learning environment is real. During community-based training, most of your time will be spent in villages and communities similar to where you will be placed as a Volunteer. Your instructors will set up the learning environment with experiences and meetings designed to allow you to develop the knowledge and skills needed for your work as a Volunteer. Throughout your training, you will live with a Samoan family and work in villages and schools. Married couples will be housed together during training.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health Care and Safety in Samoa
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Samoa maintains a clinic with a full-time and a backup medical officer, who together take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Samoa at two local hospitals (one private, one public).
During your service, if you become seriously ill or in-country medical services cannot provide further medical treatment that you may urgently require, the medical officer in Samoa will consult with the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be treated in Samoa, you may be sent out of the country for further evaluation and care.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Samoa
In Samoa, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs will be judged in a cultural context very different from our own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics considered familiar and commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed here.
Outside of Samoa’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is viewed as “typical” cultural behavior or norms may be a narrow and selective interpretation, such as the perception in some countries that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Samoa are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to differences that you present. To ease the transition and adapt to life in Samoa, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises in how you present yourself as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions will need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these and other limits. Although Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during your pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, the challenge will ultimately be your own.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
- Possible Issues for Married Volunteers
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Samoa
- How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to Samoa?
- What is the electric current in Samoa?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- What should I bring as gifts for Samoan friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- Can I call home from Samoa?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
Main article: Packing List for Samoa
There are some suggestions for packing, generated by Volunteers serving in Samoa. You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have items sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight limit on baggage. As mentioned earlier, Volunteers who choose to go with the airline allowances over the Peace Corps allowances do so at their own risk and potential expense. Remember, less is often more, and you can get almost everything you need in Samoa. Use this list as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list!
Keep in mind also that what you bring probably will not make it back to the U.S., so don’t bring anything you would be heartbroken to lose.
- General Clothing
- For Women
- For Men
- Special Notes
- Care Package Considerations
Peace Corps News
- Peace Corps director visits, honors Macalester - Macalester College The Mac Weekly
[?]Peace Corps director visits, honors Macalester
Macalester College The Mac Weekly
Four generations of Hessler-Radelet's family have served as Peace Corps volunteers. She herself served in Samoa from 1981 to 1983 as a teacher. Upon returning she devoted her career to public health work focused on HIV/AIDS and maternal/child health, ...
- Peace Corps leader to address students at 3 Twin Cities schools - Minneapolis Star Tribune
[?]Peace Corps leader to address students at 3 Twin Cities schools
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Hessler-Radelet, who will visit Macalester College in St. Paul before moving on to Minnetonka High School and the University of Minnesota, was a Peace Corps volunteer in Samoa in the early 1980s. Acting director since July 2013, she also has 20 years of ...
PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
( As of Friday March 7, 2014 )
Contributions to the Samoa Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Samoa. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.
- List of resources for Samoa
- Volunteers who served in Samoa
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Samoa
- Inspector General Reports