It’s not often you run into a set of triplets.
But in Samoa today, 15-year-old triplets, Justine, Grace and Jacob Laumatia, are having a great time.
Their parents met in Samoa when their mother Laura, from Idaho, U.S.A, came to volunteer for the Peace Corp in 1996.
Their father Sefo is from Fausaga, Safata. They moved to Pago Pago in 1996 and the triplets were born in there in 2002, before they all moved to Idaho, shortly after.
This is the first time they have been to Samoa and they are loving it here. Coming from landlocked Plummer, Idaho - where the closest beach is about a 10-hour drive - their Samoan trip has been an overload for the senses.
“It’s really beautiful here, it was like a culture shock at first,” says Justine. “There are so many different plants, again it’s really beautiful and there’s so many different colours everywhere you go – just pretty everywhere you go, even when you’re just driving back from Apia.”
Since they have been here, the Laumatia family have gone on adventures like snorkeling at Palolo Marine Reserve, beaching at Tafatafa, swimming at To Sua trench and Lalomanu – they even found the time to crash a wedding at Mulivai Cathedral and stop by at the Samoa Observer to purchase the latest edition of Tusitala Short Stories “ Our Heritage, the Ocean” to add to their collection of Pacific literature in the U.S. There were lots of comparisons to draw on between their home in Plummer, Idaho and Samoa.
“I love the weather here, it took a while to get used to but it’s sunnier here and the air is fresh,” Justine says.
“In Plummer, the air is dry and at the moment there are so many wild fires there. I would even consider living here when I grow up. There’s always a lot of food and everyone speaks Samoan so I get confused and it showed me that I definitely have to learn so I can come back.”
For Grace, it’s been an experience of a lifetime. Her favourite part has been, “definitely seeing my Dad’s family again and getting to see part of the island which left me in awe. It’s been a really memorable trip. The ocean wild life, we got to go snorkeling, it was just so amazing, there were so many different fish, I would definitely do it again.”
Grace is having her “eat, pray, love” moment as she describes what it’s been like for her to reconnect with her culture,
“I will definitely come back to Samoa when I’m rich. I’m coming to build a family house and an animal shelter. It’s grown on me very fast actually. It’s way better than the environment I’m living in down in Plummer.”
Being the only Samoans in their town in Idaho has had its challenges, she admits.
“I can never identify with people there but this has grown on me so much faster. Now I can say where I’m from and know something about it like when people at school ask me where Im from. Before I couldn’t really identify where I’m from but now I know. It’s sort of like an eat, pray, love experience.”
Meanwhile triplet brother, Jacob is busy digging into his fish and chips and says that he is looking forward to getting their taulima tattoos with his siblings to mark this trip to their other homeland.
Jacob has enjoyed all their adventures here in Samoa and is grateful to be here.
“I got to know my culture better. I’m going to take back the knowledge and tell people about here. It’s been hard listening to everyone speaking in Samoan and I think I should know how to speak it but I’ll work on it.”
Although each of the Laumatia triplets came to Samoa from the United Sates with fresh pairs of eyes not knowing what to expect, they will now return there confident in the knowledge that they are also the son and daughters of Samoa.