90th Peace Corps welcomed with ava

Ava was patiently passed around 27 new Peace Corps trainees yesterday by the outgoing contingent in a welcoming ceremony at the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) fale Samoa.

The Ministry welcomed the 90th group in the traditional manner, seated on mats in the fale under light rain, with speeches and offerings of advice.

“Have fun in Samoa, don’t get in trouble!” joked Leota Valma Galuvao, the Assistant Chief Executive of curriculum design.

The curriculum division works hand in hand with Peace Corps volunteers, particularly in training them to help improve learning outcomes in literacy and numeracy for students, said Leota. 

Conducting the ceremony were members of the 88th and 89th group of Peace Corps volunteers, some of whom are about to leave while others stay on to continue their service.

Chief Executive Officer of M.E.S.C., Dr. Karoline Afamasaga-Fuatai said she was impressed by the performance of the volunteers.

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“It is most pleasing to see you immersed in our culture and performing with perfection. You did your team proud and we appreciate it.”

She said the seriousness with which the volunteers performed was clearly a reflection of how they were taught in the classrooms.

But to the new group, she had this advice.

“Don’t take yourselves too seriously, have fun! We have a lot to learn from each other.”

“Our doors are always open to you to help you resolve issues or questions and we hope your two years here will be wonderful.”

Dr. Afamasaga-Fuatai jokingly reminded the group, who come from across the United States, to add an hour to any appointment they make because they are on island time now.

Peace Corps Country Director Gini Wilderson said she looks forward to beginning the training process, which runs for nine weeks after which the trainees will be sworn in as volunteers.

Ms. Wilderson was a Peace Corps volunteer herself in 1995 and worked for the agency for six more years after her service. This is her first year back with the agency after a break.

“It’s a unique and special agency among the federal agencies, so it’s a privilege to work for the Peace Corps,” she said.

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