Tofa Samoa: My home away from home

By Julia Jamila Werner ,

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Life is too short to wait. Last year when I finished high school, my goals were high and my motivation and enthusiasm was boundless. 

I saw my goals and they were clear but how can I make my dreams become reality? New ideas came to my mind, others faded away. The dream of becoming an author never left my mind. 

I wanted to focus my life on travelling, getting to know countries, people and their cultures. A few e-mails and phone calls later I found myself with a backpack at the airport in my German hometown Hamburg. 

In my hand were flight tickets to the other side of the world.

Yep that was Samoa. 

Samoa? Where in Africa is it?

That was one of the most frequently asked questions.

When I arrived, I lived in the village of Vaitele Fou with a warm-hearted Samoan family. I have never felt like a stranger. My Samoan mother Luana Malaki as well as my host siblings always gave their best to make me feel at home. 

I got to know how it is to live just as the locals do. My life in Samoa was authentic.

The reason why I am in this small country is the Volunteering experience as a reporter in the local newspaper Samoa Observer. 

Volunteering is a way of giving back to your community while developing important social skills, and gaining valuable work experience all at the same time. 

It helped me learn more about myself and even put me on a path to my future career. It was a huge opportunity to get to know Samoa from a critical point of view and to have insights, I otherwise would not have.

The Samoa Observer team have been tremendous to help me with patience and support. It was not easy with such a demanding job. A daily newspaper is a go, go, go business. People don’t appreciate how hard it is to put it together on a daily basis.

During my time at the Samoa Observer, I saw people who are following their passion. They taught me that it is not worth it to waste your time with things you do not want to do. 

I found out about the power of endurance, passion and sweat. These make up the main pillars of a great career in the world of media.

Away from my work at the Samoa Observer, as a volunteer of Projects Abroad, I wanted to create something that stays even if I already left the country.

“I see you” is a project I initiated last year right before Christmas to show Street children and beggars in the heart of Apia, that there are people who care. 

Back in Germany I am going to follow-up with this project. I am going to take it with me on every travel I make. 

Today it feels quite normal to live in Samoa. It is kind of a home away from home. Time has gone fast and in a few days it is time to catch a flight and say tofa soifua.

I’m going to miss Samoa. I will miss the warmth of this place and the friendliness of her people. But I have many wonderful memories that I will take with me. I take great experiences, new knowledge and most importantly an open-mind about life. 

Fa’afetai tele lava Samoa. Ieova i lo tatou va!

© Samoa Observer 2016

Developed by Samoa Observer in Apia