Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Life of Lauren

Some of you may or may not know what has been going on in my life recently so if you do, you may want to skip this first paragraph…. After leaving Malta in October I traveled a little bit more of Europe, took in some remote parts of France & Italy then onto to Haggis-land. I met some really great people during this time and saw some incredible parts of France & Italy that I had missed first time around. On my way home to Australia I stopped into Thailand & Cambodia for 5 ½ weeks. I had a really relaxing time & it was a nice segue back into the Aussie climate but certainly not nearly as enjoyable as Europe. I traveled with a group of people during this time & although it was nice to have companionship I learnt that the group thing doesn’t work for me. Pleasing more than one person is too difficult!
When I was in Malta I applied for the Australian Youth Ambassador program. This is an AusAid initiative where young Australians apply for positions in their field and are placed in developing countries in the Asia Pacific Region. I applied for a position as a Media, Communications & PR Trainer with the Electric Power Corporation (EPC), Samoa. Despite my lack of confidence, my application was successful. Thus after 8 months in Europe, a month and a bit in Asia and a 3 month stint back home I am sitting on the balcony of my modest Samoan bungalow writing to you all!

The lead up to departing for Samoa was intense. 5 vaccines, 3 trips to the doctor, 2 courses of antibiotics, a numb arm, a week of do’s and don’ts as an Australian Youth Ambassador plus a bag full of treatments for any ailment you could imagine & I was supposedly ready for departure! In the end, my time back in Australia felt like an extension of my time overseas. I had just settled back into the swing of things & it was time to leave again – this said, not a moment too soon! My feet were incredibly itchy (not just from the tinea I contracted from Morts) and living the daily grind was a little like caging a kitten – despite the restriction, the mind & body are constantly trying to escape!

Now, one week into my new adventure & I’m feeling more at ease. The past week has consisted of orientation. I’ve learnt how to husk a coconut & extract the cream. Been pulled on stage to dance up a storm Samoan style. Slept in a fale (hut) literally on the beach at Lalomanu and been introduced to the people I will be working with. Yesterday I picked up my pulitasi – the traditional Samoan dress. I would never wear anything like it in Australia but it is perfect for the heat and lifestyle here. It is basically a long straight skirt and straight top with off the shoulder sleeves. You could choose whichever elai (traditional pattern) you wanted and mine is bright mustard yellow with a brown geometric print. I know it sounds gross but it is really flattering – I’ll send a photo soon!