One of the requirements for my basic writing class was to learn about another culture. Many Pathway students do not speak English and are assigned to visit for 30 minutes every week with an English-speaking student. I did not receive a speaking partner and was given an alternate assignment. This is the second of two reports for my assignment that is included on my blog.
I did not receive a speaking partner and chose to learn about Samoa as an alternative assignment. I visited with friends about their lives in Samoa and researched in books and on the Internet about Samoa. I have learned much about my friends and their native land.
There are actually two places called Samoa. One is American Samoa, a territory of the United States, and the other is Western Samoa, an independent nation. Both places experience high emigration due to the low standard of living, and there are huge populations of Samoans in other places, such as Hawaii, California, and other western states. Alaska has its own group of Samoans. I find it interesting that American Samoa is the only place in the United States that does not automatically bestow citizenship on newborns. Samoans can claim citizenship only if they have a parent that is a citizen of the United States. Otherwise, they must follow the same immigration rules as other foreigners.
An interesting cultural fact I learned from my friends is about rudeness. Apparently, the rudest thing a person can do in the Samoan culture is to walk around the room at an event while eating and visiting. People can visit while seated at a table to eat or drink, but doing the same while walking around is wrong.
Samoans enjoy a variety of activities. Cricket is so popular in Samoa that there is a cricket pitch in the middle of every village green. Rugby, American football, boxing, and wrestling are also popular in Samoa. Samoan men enjoy playing Dominoes.
Samoans have their own standard for time. It is known as “Samoan time” and is based on the concept that time runs in cycles. This is probably because time traditionally was oriented at events, signs of nature such as sunrise and sunset, or the stars. Samoan time means that if an event is delayed, it simply gets postponed to a later cycle. Samoans would rather get things right than rush to get results. The details of the event are more important to Samoans than time commitments. It seems to me that Americans could learn something from Samoan time. We could learn to stop rushing around and multi-tasking and simply take time to enough life.
Most Samoans speak English as well as their native language. It is important for Samoans to learn English because it is the language used in schools, tourism, and government work. It is important for all people to learn English because it is the universal language and knowledge of it leads to better employment opportunities.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Samoa and the Samoan culture. I gained greater love for and understanding of my Samoan friends. I like the concept of Samoan time and hope to make it a part of my life. It will help me remember that strengthening relationships is more important than completing tasks. I plan to continue learning about Samoa and other nations because I know learning about other cultures will enrich my life.