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Samoa 2016

Rich at heart

We embarked on our immersion at 3.30am on 8 July to Samoa, not knowing how much we would personally gain from the short twelve days we were there. The first three days were spent in Apia, where we went to the markets and had our first real taste of how the culture works. We also had the chance to visit the Baha’i Temple and join in their service. The time spent singing and dancing afterwards with the young people of the community was great fun. We celebrated Mass in Samoan at the Cathedral where the singing was amazing! The Fiamalamalama special school was a highlight of Apia, where all of the students that attended the school were so talented and were highly appreciative of our visit.

We went on a short ferry ride across to the island of Savaii, which was where we spent time billeted out into local families and were part of St Therese’s Primary School. The beaches and views were amazing, but that was nothing compared to the sense of community and happiness we experienced every day. We all had a different journey with the families, although I can speak on behalf of us all in saying that we feel as though we will always have a place there. They were all so giving, even though they had nothing. The children at St Theresa’s were so full of life and it was priceless seeing their faces light up every time they saw you.

The day we left our families and St Theresa’s was more emotional than any of us could have imagined. The Samoan way of life is so simple, based on the kindness all around them, the strength and commitment to their families and their village and their relationship with God. The students selected to go on this immersion could never have anticipated gaining as much as we all have. The statement ‘poor people are the richest at heart’ is one that comes to mind when thinking about the incredible people I had the privilege of meeting. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put into words how much this immersion has given me, and I can’t stress enough how thankful I am for being granted this trip of a lifetime. We learnt more from them than they will ever know, and I’m so eternally grateful for this experience that will remain with me forever.

Abbey McCarthy VT11