Thank you Samoa for the beautiful memories

I remember the feeling I had the first time I saw my byline above an article in the Samoa Observer, and today marks my last for the country’s only daily newspaper.

That joy kept me grounded as a reporter during my eight-month stint with the newspaper and sadly that adventure has now come to an end.

Looking back today I cannot imagine having it any other way. Samoa was not the nearest nation to go to from Switzerland in central Europe, but here I am now, about to complete my mission as a volunteer. I clocked in March 5, 2018 and will clock out this week to head back to Europe. 

There is no doubt that my experience in Samoa has given me education and self reflection which no school, college or university could have provided. In Samoa it would be about the culture, politics, society, work and mainly people, which enabled me to see the world and all it holds a bit clearer.

Working in the Samoa Observer newsroom enabled me to get insights on how a newspaper company functioned, its interaction with the players in local politics, and the challenges that a community faces. 

In some ways I guess countries all around struggle with similar challenges. But it is the political, cultural and personal touches that make a nation different and unique. 

For example, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) ran a trauma workshop, which I was lucky enough to cover. The issue of mental health can be a taboo topic in Samoa, but the ability of the workshop participants to discuss it openly was pleasing to see. 

After living in Samoa for eight months, I concluded that luck can come in different ways and take different forms. The welfare of citizens in other countries around the world are dealt with differently. But here in Samoa, it is the strength of the community, family and their faith that prioritizes citizens’ welfare. 

Having money, a career, a big house or even a car are never priorities in Samoa – here it is always about the people, what they believe in and how they look after each other. It is one reason I enjoyed my stay in Samoa.

 And if there is one thing I enjoyed the most during my stay in Samoa, it was as a reporter for the Samoa Observer, and the respect that the role garnered from the community. 

Samoa is a country where the work of the print media still matters, and remains as important as online content such as social media and its ability to inform and influence the masses like in many European states.

As would have been expected in a small community, every single person’s work on the island actually makes a remarkable difference to the community. The value of a single person is important and they are irreplaceable – I felt that way during my time in Samoa. 

Each day at the Samoa Observer comes with a new challenge, lesson and fun. 

What a challenge and opportunity it has been for me – without any previous experience in the media – to be allowed to take up such a role and be trusted to work with experienced, award-winning colleagues.

Over the last few months I have come to realise how difficult it could be to raise a voice in Samoa, yet this newspaper allowed me to do that, and to be become successful at it. No words can express how grateful I am for the life lessons, help, respect and generally the newsroom camaraderie from workmates, family and friends. That is one piece of Samoa I am taking back with me, when I return to Europe this week. 

Therefore, it is only right that I say Fa’afetai lava for having me and letting me become a part of your lives over the eight months I was here. I was welcomed everywhere I went and it was a wonderful experience. 

I hope that despite the challenges that Samoa faces – like any other country in the world – its citizens are able to see how blessed they are and to continue to keep the faith. I must say that from my time on the island, I got back more than I was be able to give. I hope one day, when I return, I will be in a position to give back to the community that I have learnt to love.

Finally, living far away from home has taught me that distance doesn’t matter, when it comes to matters of the heart. To this end Samoa will always remain in my heart. Thank you for giving me a voice.

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