Our First 2 week Encounter since November 2019 was realised in April 2023!
The Encounter group consisted of 6 enthusiastic Aussies: our 2021 raffle winner, a long term supporter and her 3 granddaughters with Helen Colla [Palms program participant in Samoa 2018-2020] as their guide. They looked forward to meeting our participants John, Vicky and Veronica and meeting our dedicated partner organisations who are working together to build self-reliance and sustainability.
The first adventure for Bernadette, Martha, Catie, Catherine & Pippa [and Helen] was a visit to Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Apia on Easter Sunday with “beautiful singing and service”.
On Easter Monday they drove past Lava Rocks on the way to the cool clear water of Afu Aau Waterfall.
The Encounter participants then visited Don Bosco College Savai’i and were “treated to a beautiful formal welcome with all of the students performing songs and cultural dances”. They then spent some time sitting in on the year 11 English class with Palms program participant Vicky Yemoh. Lalena (Palms staff member) shares, “Vicky taught a class on ‘visual language’ which went really well. We each worked in small groups to look through newspapers and the students discussed the different types of texts you find in the paper like adverts, news stories, etc and the different audiences that read them…the Encounter people loved it”.
The Encounter group caught the local bus back to Don Bosco College the next day to visit Palms participant John Bradley and find out more about our global development program. They were able to sit in on John’s year 11 chemistry class doing a water vapour experiment.
Our intrepid tour group said goodbye to Vicky and Samoa and together with John, flew in a tiny plane to American Samoa – a smooth 30min flight, arriving a day earlier than they left!
They received a warm welcome in Pago Pago from Palms participant Veronica Lawson, who is providing mentoring and professional support for local educators in a number of schools, as well as principals from four of the schools and the Director of the Catholic Education Office.
The first stop was Fatu O Aiga Montessori preschool where the group got to read and interact with the students.
They visited Pago Pago harbour and Utulei beach as well as a year 8 English class at St Theresa’s Elementary.
Before leaving American Samoa the group got to experience National Flag Day, marking 123 years since American Samoa became part of the U.S.A. Steady rain did not deter the many groups on parade, marching bands, flag raising and ceremony. This year’s theme was “Unity Blesses the Nation” the first full-fledged Flag Day celebration since 2019.
Back in Samoa, Bernadette writes, “Here we are at the Salesian Convent and Elementary school [on the outskirts of Apia]. Sr Carol picked us up and on our way to their school we stopped and visited the Robert Louis Stephenson museum and had a tour there. From there we were welcomed by the Sisters and the teachers with a welcome song and then the traditional morning tea with the teachers. They showed us around all the classrooms and around the convent and gardens. A thoroughly enjoyable morning and then Sr Carol drove us back to the city where we did some shopping, banking and had a late lunch. Everything is booked to go to Manono Island and we are hoping for a smooth trip in the little boat!”
The Encounter group made it safely to Manono Island for their last day of the Encounter and arrived back safely in Australia. We look forward to hearing the feedback of their recent adventure.
We welcome private Encounter group bookings from work, school or community groups with a minimum of five participants and 6 months advance notice. If you are interested in organising a group booking, please contact us on 02 9560 5333 or 0422 472 567.
Feature image: [From L-R] Lalena (Palms staff), Catherine, Pippa, Catie, Martha, Helen (guide) & Bernadette getting off the ferry from Upolo to Savai’i in Samoa