Falelatai Primary farewells Japanese 'Patosina'

After almost two years of working in Samoa Japanese Volunteer ‘Patosina’ Tomoko Tanaka’s new life motto has become: ‘expect the unexpected’.

From Tokyo, Japan’s bustling capital and the famous home of neon lights and skyscrapers, Ms. Tanaka has adjusted so well to Matautu Falelatai’s simple way of life that she said: “I don’t want to go back to Japan.”

It did not take long for Matautu Falelatai to win the heart of Ms. Tanaka as she taught mathematics and science to the students of Matautu Falelatai Primary School.

Staying with a host family of a single mother with six children was the last thing Ms. Tanaka had expected. But it became so familiar to her that she is determined to even spend her holidays in Samoa.

Ms. Tanaka is a teacher by profession and the Samoan way and culture is something she cannot wait to bring back to her students in Japan.

Matautu Falelatai students expressed their sincere gratefulness to the volunteer with traditional gifts to a dear teacher they said would be missed universally.

Ms. Tanaka was asked what she would miss the most about Samoa. But she could not choose, she simply said there are ‘too many memories’.

She was teary as she explained how different of a setting it was for her to be placed in a household with one parents with many children, saying they showed nothing but love and care.

“I will come back for my holidays. I will be going back to my school in Japan and I will be sharing with them everything I have learnt in Samoa,” said the 29-year-old.

The Matautu Falelatai school committee and village chiefs thanked Ms. Tanaka for her commitment in teaching the children of the village.

The school's numeracy and literacy level moved up almost 10 points in the short period Ms. Tanaka was in Samoa, the Samoa Observer was told.

One Year 8 student and one of Ms. Tanaka’s host family’s children, Fa’atasiga Melani, said they are all sad about their Japanese friend’s departure but remain confident that she will someday return.

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