It was 3 months ago that I stepped off the plane and into the tropical Samoan rain. It seems those same storm clouds have gathered on my last day on the island to see me off. Over the course of my stay, I’d like to think that I learned a few of things. 

I’ve learned of the incredible dedication and hard-work it takes for the staff of a small MFI like SPBD to run its operations.

I’ve learned that despite their demanding daily schedules, the SPBD staff rarely shows signs of stress or frustration. I think I’ll have a better chance of mastering the Samoan language in my remaining hours here than encountering a similar work environment back in North America.

I’ve learned that I have yet to scratch the surface of understanding the complex Pacific way of life. The faa Samoa is a riddle, wrapped in a conundrum, wrapped in taro leaves.

I’ve learned how to snorkel, how to change a tire, and how to subsist on an alternating diet of corned beef and Yellowfin tuna. I’m not yet sure how useful that last bit will prove to be.

I’ve learned that, despite not having any international volunteering experience prior to this, I was able to survive for three months in a country many of my friends have never heard of before.

I’ve learned to appreciate how lucky I am to not have to worry about running water or working electricity. One of the great perks of travel is that it often provides a measure of perspective on your own life.

And finally, I’ve learned that that the loans made through Kiva are helping the proud women of Samoa to take advantage of their talents and resourcefulness. It’s been a real honour to have helped out in any way.

Tofa Soifua

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