Tuesday, February 7, 2012

2012: The Year of Flash Mobs and Slip-n-Slides

As my second and senior year of the Peace Corps starts, I have now experienced roughly fifteen months of Samoan culture. At this point, any good volunteer starts to think, How can I share American culture a little more? The answer comes like a lightning bolt when rain or a dance club is involved.
Twenty mile per hour winds, a pounding rain, and an open porch can only lead to one thing at a Peace Corps volunteer’s house in Samoa. You guessed it: a makeshift, but ever-pleasing Slip-n-Slide**. A sudden and unrelenting rain forced three of my year seven students to take refuge under my porch yesterday afternoon. The fact that they were already soaked didn’t deter them from trying to prevent any further drenching. Ina, Lumepa, Josephine, and I quickly realized that the puddles forming around the edges of my porch were creating a river headed straight for my bedroom door. Most Samoan fales come equipped with stylish blue tarps that can be pulled down to block such river tributaries from forming. We decided to pull mine down. However, my blue Samoan tarp inexperience led to a slight malfunction. Instead of carefully unrolling the tarp which has a piece of lumber nailed to the bottom to hold it down, I just let the tarp drop, causing the wood to rip out of the tarp. The three girls looked at me for a second; their expressions said one of two things: “Wow, Sema, that was dumb,” or, “Oh no, we’re going to get sasa-ed [hit].” My laughter, while outwardly expressing bemusement, was really masking the universal thought for such situations: “Shit.” After jerry-rigging the tarp to stay down with large rocks, the girls discovered that they could run and slide on my soaked porch. You could call it Samoan ice skating. After slipping and sliding around on my plastic-wood ground covering (pisikoas, you know the fake flooring I’m talking about), the girls quickly realized that the falling that is inherent in such a game isn’t so conducive to non-bruised knees. And of course, that’s when the rain stopped and the wind ripped the tarps from under the rocks, which only led me to put the tarp up as quickly as I had taken it down, thus bringing to an end a moment of good ol’ dangerous fun.
I now implore shower-singers and dancers-in-the-dark the world over, what is a Peace Corps volunteer to do during breaks in our Mid-Service Conference except learn a dance called The Wobble? Part of this dance could be likened to a gorilla swinging its lanky arms behind its back. And why wouldn’t we want to do such an ungraceful move in front of numerous Samoans? The answer escapes me. Clearly the new Club X would be the perfect place to perform our monkey-like maneuver. Friday night came and Club X was calling. That’s right Samoa, well, those of you who caught a glimpse of choreography out of the corner of your alcohol-influenced eye and were entertained enough to watch, you just witnessed a flash mob danced by some very coordinated, sweaty white people.
Whether it’s at a night club with semi-inebriated Samoans, some of whom tried to join in with moves of their own, or on my flooded porch, we here at Peace Corps Samoa take every opportunity to share American culture. Any volunteer would now ask, “Can I put this on my VRF?” **

*  For the Slip-n-Slide deprived, this probably overpriced but cheaply manufactured toy is simply a glorified piece of plastic (or trash bag) that is laid on the ground and covered in water. Children, teens, and overzealous fathers then proceed to run onto and semi-gracefully slide the length of the garbage bag, ahem, Slip-n-Slide.

**The VRF, or volunteer report form, is a universal fa’alavelave that every Peace Corps fills out to record what activities you have done in recent months. It also helps volunteers feel like they’re accomplishing something.

No comments:

Post a Comment