Report on Young Peace Program actioned in Samoa August/September 2003
There is a quote from Joseph Addison which I appreciate and want to share with you. "The three grand essentials to happiness in life are:-
something to do
something to love
something to hope for"
My venture to Samoa on the Pan Pacific South East Asia Women's Association (PPSEAWA) program "Design for Young Peace" was an amazing combination of these three things for I was doing something I loved and it was filled with hope! I came away from Samoa feeling uplifted by the sense of purpose I had experienced and I felt grateful for the opportunities I had been given to generate new ideas about peace --with the hope that young people would become the "bridge builders" and build a "world fit for children".
This report will cover both times I was in Samoa this year for I have already delivered a report on "Design for Young Peace" actioned in Fiji in March 2003.
Though my first visit was for a family function I was able to speak to students at three schools - two primary schools where English was very much the second language and one college - Leifiifi College.
When conducting our program at Afenga and Tuana'i , members of PPSEAWA Samoa played a major role in our demonstrations of Peace and I was impressed with their ready response to the need of the moment.
The presentation at Leifiifi College was a huge success and provided just the encouragement we needed for me to return to Samoa in August to continue our program "Design for Young Peace".
Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family - whatever we call it wherever you are you need one and PPSEAWA Samoa answered all these needs and I am grateful for their wonderful support and all they did to make our plans come to life. I am full of praise for Viopapa Annandale, President of PPSEAWA Samoa and the executive members of that branch.
The focus of attention and theme of my talk was about creating a "Design for Young Peace" within the schools or place of learning such as National University of Samoa. What I had to say and its delivery depended entirely on the ability of the students to understand English. Fortunately for me in most schools and the University the students' English was excellent.
Principals Support and co-operation...
The greatest encouragement came from the Principals of the schools we attended and we were deeply grateful for their very real support and full of admiration for the vision they had for their students - the encouragement they gave their students to become "Leaders of Samoa" was awe inspiring! All Principals have now received letters of appreciation from PPSEAWA.
University of Samoa and schools: Places of learning and "Design for Young Peace"....
The schools I was invited to were widely diversified and I felt the challenge to make my approach to the subject of Peace "different" in its appeal to the students. This difference was a great learning leap for me but I felt deeply rewarded in the response we had form students at schools in Samoa.
The whole Samoa "Design for Young Peace" program began at the National University of Samoa on Monday 25 August. The university itself is beautifully designed and our session was held in the huge "fale" which is the assembly hall. Everything was well organised with microphone, podium etc in place. I was introduced by Galoleai Tili Afamasaga, the Dean of Education and that was a great lift for me for I've worked with Tili before and enjoyed being with her enormously.
Our next school was Samoa College and the setting was quite different in that their assembly hall "fale" could hardly contain the 700 students! They were bursting out the sides on to the grounds. But the enthusiasm for the subject of "Peace" was real for there had been a great deal of discord - even violence - between various colleges on the football field and elsewhere. We were speaking about a very real issue of distress in the islands and the need to find solutions.
The students who attended this session were 7th formers from all over Samoa who were in their Preparatory year at University and hoping to move into University proper. A very special group of young people - intelligence shining out of their eyes and faces - eager to learn and so responsive. I felt fortunate to have the opportunity to be with them..
The visit to Avele College was truly uplifting! About 900 students were gathered outside under huge shade trees listening carefully to the words being shared with them because their school too had experienced times without peace! Their Principal Aiga Esera made a deep impression on me for she is a dynamic leader and will surely see that her students become "leaders in Samoa" due to her positive and generous attitude towards her students.
My spirit was lifted also by the opportunity I had to be with Sister Makerita and Sister Emanuela of St Marys College These inspiring women have had a wonderful influence on their students and it was such a pleasure to be at this school where "peace" is so much part of the school curriculum.
Don Bosco College and its Principal Father Mosese also gave me cause to appreciate the opportunity I had to share thoughts and words on Peace for this college is totally different from any other. Don Bosco provides a second chance for students who have fallen by the wayside in one way or another and is composed of young men from 14-20 years of age who are in search of new ways and means of making their lives valuable - learning to extend themselves. I felt a deep connection and sense of appreciation from these young men and their teachers.
My last speaking engagement in Samoa was at Chanel College, a Roman Catholic co-educational school with Father Kevin as its Principal.
Whilst speaking about designing a way forward in a peace plan for this school and the opportunity the students had to become "teachers of peace", I realised once more how priviledged I was to be able to reach out to the young people of Samoa - indeed the young people of the Pacific. There is something mysteriously moving in saying to the students "you are the only ones who can create a Peaceful tomorrow".
To be invited to be Guest Speaker at the Soroptomists dinner required a "different" approach but the opportunity nevertheless was valuable. The truly worthwhile result of this occasion was the coming together of Soroptomists, PPSEAWA and NCW to create a Peace Day program for September 19 2003.
This was a great move in the right direction and one we could initiate wherever we are and follow Samoa's example.
Song of Praise...
To close this report on my visit to Samoa please know it was truly valuable because we worked together in our efforts to make "Design for Young Peace" a reality.
So I sing a song of Praise to Shirley Munyan whose encouragement spurred us all on.
To Vio Annandale, President of PPSEAWA Samoa and her members for their efforts towards co-ordinating the program.
Special thanks to Calmar Annandale who was the co-ordinator.
Pativaine Laufili Ainuu, Josie Ioane and others whose support was invaluable.
As I began my report with inspiring words I would like to end it with an uplifting thought.
"Out of this darkness a new world can arise, not to be constructed by our minds so much as to emerge from our dreams. Even though we cannot see clearly how its going to turn out, we are still called to let the future into our imagination. We will never be able to build what we have not first cherished in our hearts".
The seed of this peace program has been sown in Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands. Its growth and success will depend on the actions and commitment of our organisation.
Peace be with you.