Volunteer Review: Elizabeth G., Nutrition in Samoa
Why I chose Samoa
Throughout my time in Samoa, everyone kept asking “Why Samoa?” The reason for Samoa is because I wanted to go somewhere beautiful that I would never get a chance to go to again. I picked the perfect place because Samoa is so remote and so beautiful but I made the right choice for more than one reason. What an experience it is to spend a month in the most beautiful place in the world, meet people from all over the world, and fully dive yourself into a brand new culture.
The people of Samoa are the most hospitable and friendly people. The whole entire culture is completely different than what you would find in the United States. They say hello when you pass, they invite you into their homes for food, give up their spots on the bus for you, and genuinely want to know where you are from, why you are there, and what your story is. It was always an experience traveling to work on the bus because this is when I got to talk to so many people and really embrace the culture. I felt like I actually lived there, and that was something that tourists do not get to experience. I am truly grateful to have spent a month in Samoa, and that I was able to help out in such a wonderful community.
My host family
Living with a host family allowed me to see how Samoans live their everyday lives, what they eat every day, and how their family dynamic work. Their families are huge and tight-knit. My host family was amazing. My host mother’s house was always packed full of visitors and volunteers from all over the world. She made the greatest dinners and really tried to make things that Westerners would enjoy. We always had a traditional Samoan breakfast with lots of papaya, fried pancakes, and bananas. Her whole family welcomed us with open arms and I enjoyed staying there and getting to know all of them.
My Nutrition Project
Within the Nutrition Project, there is a lot of freedom. This project is different than the other projects because the nutrition team really got to decide what we were going to do each week. Our project coordinator was in charge of the volunteers in the nutrition team and was great with coming up with ideas and different ways that we could use our knowledge to help the Samoan community. During my time, I was able to teach nutrition lessons in two different rural schools, teach nutrition in an antenatal clinic, help out the staff at the nursing home as well as teach them about proper nutrition for older adults, and lead Zumba classes in the markets. I also got to do some home nutrition counseling with another family that hosts volunteers. An initial assessment of blood sugar, height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, and dietary intake was taken and then we would do some nutrition counseling by coming up with specific goals each week to further them in their weight loss journey. I was so excited to be a part of this project and work with the project coordinator who has such a passion for changing the dietary habits of Samoans.
Free time in Samoa
There were tons of free time in the evenings and weekends to explore the islands of Samoa. During my stay, the volunteers were all very close, and we would go exploring together every weekend. We went to the To Sua ocean trench, slept overnight in falas next to the ocean, travelled to Savaii Island and visited many waterfalls. The staff were great, they helped us figure out the local transport and they gave us advice on the best things to do and see on the island. Whenever we got lost (which did happen quite a bit), all we ever had to do was stop and ask a local. They would always point us in the right direction and were so willing and happy to help.
My favorite part of living in Samoa and volunteering with Projects Abroad is definitely the people that I met. It was so cool to meet individuals from Samoa, Europe, the US, Australia, and New Zealand. I learned about the Samoan culture from being in the country, but I was also able to learn about so many different cultures from all the volunteers and friends that I made. That is what volunteering abroad is all about - learning about different cultures and serving another community. This was an adventure of a lifetime that was full of bugs, sweaty days and nights, papaya, taro, and cold showers! If you are like me and want to go on an adventure and to a beautiful remote location then Samoa is the place for you.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.