In memory of Fepulea’i Sinapi

I want to thank God for giving me the privilege of teaching one of the loveliest people I have met in my life.

I do not want to impose.  I would rather that she tell her own story in her own words.  And I do that by drawing on the article she wrote for the Samoa College 50th Anniversary Book.  I think her article is a reflection of her values, her vision, her reference, and most of all, the wonderful person  she is.

1972 :  A walk Down Memory Lane

(by Sinapi Faamanu, Samoa College 1968-1972;  Article written for Samoa College 50thYear Book, 2003)

I entered Samoa College in 1968 after attending Falevao Primary School, Leififi Intermediate School and Anoamaa District School.  It seems such a long time ago, before DVDs, Cyberspace and Internet but these events I remember. 

Weeding the taro and banana plantation in the hot sun,  picking up and carrying stones from the plantation for the foundation of the new tennis courts, the trips on the back of the trick to gather stones from Luatuanuu for the new fale Samoa, the opening of the fale Samoa where I took part in looking after the fine mats with other girls, my first trip to Savaii when the hostel students represented Samoa College at the opening of Logoipulotu College in 1971.  I remember dancing the siva and mauluulu under the watchful eye of Mrs Palagi Faasau, the hostel supervisor.

The school launched an expressive Arts programme and clubs in different fields were set up. I joined the Samoan traditional arts club.  I think of the many hours spent trying to revive the ancient chants and songs, particularly the old dance Tu’iē that was a Manono lament for a lost boat.  While some of the activities during our time seemed hard work,  this is not what stands out upon reflection. 

What remains vivid to me was the feeling of being out of the classroom, being with friends and classmates in the open fields, with the wind and sun in your face, sharing  jokes and laughing, sometimes so hard, the tummy ached.  It’s like – these were all great privileges – shaping and moulding oneself for the future.

Being a hostel student was a significant event in my school life as I spent all my college years livin at the hostel.  Some of the memorable times at the hostel include: our last minute hasty preparations on the eve of Sinave and Miriama’s wedding.  The town leave on Saturday morning when it felt like you were really going somewhere – on a tour to another world.  The Sundays when you looked forward to having a umu-baked lunch, and also families visiting with a umu and having a feed at night after lights out.  Also Sunday afternoons when you could enjoy sleeping under the shade of the cool thick broad serrated fan leaves of the huge palm trees that used to line one of the college fields.

I remember the hymn practices and the Christmas carol singing at the end of the year when the students’ families were invited.  In fact, the hymns and carols I know are mostly the ones I learned at the hostel.  On Saturdays, you looked forward to recreation time at night – watching a movie, having a dance or playing games. Sundays were also memorable when the girls had their meeting before the lights went out.  Also when Matron had inspections to see that you had the basics like panties, bras, pads, soap and the girls swapping articles as Matron moved from one bed to the next.

Being co-dux in 1972 with my best friend Helen Wetzell was the highlight of my school life.  I can still see my parents at the prize giving – those days it was held in the hall, rooms 7 and 8 upstairs.  They were so excited I was happy I’d done them proud. 

Taking leadership roles in the school was a big responsibility, being a school prefect and hostel head girl.  I think most girls can remember those embarrassing girls’ assemblies – when the boys were dismissed and the girls stayed behind and Mrs Pulotu giving it to us – about not keeping the toilets clean, the earrings, the fingernail polish, the mini skirts and so on.  Ithink the girls dreaded thos pep talks especially because all the boys could hear.  But anyway, those pep talks went a long way towards keeping the girls on the right track.

 We were lucky to have teachers who were competent in their field to assist us to learn, each in his/her own way.  Mr Emigh with his see-through white trousers and booming Canadian accent, Lynne Enari and Mele Toalepaialii with their mini length skirts and dresses.  Mrs Tufuga with her golden ready smile taking us through Othello. 

I loved poetry and Shakespeare.  Mr Solofa with his bushy hairstyle.   Mr Wendt giving us an exercise the sitting at his table with a faraway/dreamy look during history class, probably writing a chapter for one of his novels.  Mrs Seumanutafa dealing with a girl who came to school with a tunic that reached the ground.  Mr Talamaivao whom the students called Maopo. Mr Faasau with his easy going swagger and his debits and credits.  Mr Philip who took us for Physics.  Mr Afutiti who sometimes made fun of you or told you off in front of your classmates.  Mr Batchelor whos Bible class I enjoyed.  I also recall donating blood for his wife who got sick during our last year in school.

What was the school’s impact on my life?  While there was very little technology back then, school life was full of activities, which combined with my upbringing played a huge part in shaping who and what I am today.  It impressed upon me an appreciation of the land, traditions, local culture, things Samoan.  It cultivated in me a sense of always striving to do my best and to succeed, whether academically or socially, or whether doing any task, big or small.

The leadership positions I held instilled in me the importance of such values as  honesty, integrity, fairness, consistency, diligence, organization and self discipline.  Hostel life taught me the importance of people relationships, friendships and tolerance.  Striving to do well academically and succeeding gave one satisfaction and self confidence.

After my parents, my teachers were my role models.  I used to dream that one day I would do what they were doing, come back and be a teacher at Samoa College.  And I did – first as a teacher, and later as the deputy principal.

(Sinapi passed away while Head of the Samoa Qualifications Authority, also having held  other senior administrative positions at MESC – Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture .  She holds a Master of Education Degree (First Class Honours)  from the University of Waikato 1993.  She holds the matai title of Fepuleai, from the Village of Saleaula, Savaii.  She is survived by her husbad, Sala Felise Moli and children.)

Those are Sinapi’s words and these are mine – very brief.

Sinapi reflected the essence, the core, the dream of the Samoa College school motto:  Atamai e tautua Samoa.  Learning in order to serve Samoa.

I pray that Sinapi’s life and example will endure as a legacy and heritage of Samoa College.

God speed Sinapi!  Till we meet again!

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