Our Volunteers: Rob & Bev Hale volunteering in Samoa

Paul VI College, Samoa

The secondary school at Leulumoega
Paul VI College is a secondary school based at Leulumoega, on the North coast of Upolo island, Samoa.

Samoa is progressing quite well towards achieving the Milennium Development Goals, including MDG 2: Universal Primary Education. Unfortunately many students still drop out and schools can find it difficult to retain teachers.

The principal of Paul VI College placed requests with Palms Australia for volunteer teachers, in Accounting, Economics, Business and Computing, to work with local staff to strengthen the education opportunities to Samoan students. Their presence will assist promote teaching as a career and vocation to Samoan teachers, resulting in long-term improvement for Samoan education.

Improved educational structures will make secondary and tertiary education more attractive to students and resulting in benefits in the Samoan economy, through improved business and tourism development.

Rob and Bev Hale

Rob and Bev HaleRobert and Bev Hale have volunteered to spend two years teaching at Paul VI College in Samoa.

Robert will work as a teacher of Accounting, Economics and Business using skills he has developed over many years in Australia. Robert has previously worked as an educator at TAFE and university levels and in the private sector. He has completed a Bachelor of Education with a major in Vocational Education as well as studies in Workplace Training. Robert’s experience in program design and delivery, workplace management, cross-cultural training and tourism will ensure he is well-placed to contribute to the staff and students of Paul VI.

Bev will work as a Computing teacher, assisting students develop broad technical skills applicable in a number of industries and teachers to enhance their educational techniques with technology. Bev brings a broad experience across a variety of information technologies. She has experience in graphic design, spreadsheets, database creation and administration, project management, and hardware, software and network management. Bev has completed studies in Supervision and Management and is experienced in change management.

Rob and Bev Hale’s CommUNITY News no. 1

March 12, 2010

Nicholas, Rob and Clare
Finally had time to put pen to paper so to speak. We have had an interesting time in our first few weeks here. Internet access has been a challenge. We are using the connection at the convent so it is usually a few days between checks, so don’t be too concerned if it takes a while to get a reply.

So far we have been shown around some of the island’s beaches and into Apia (the Capital) by the Sisters of Mercy. They have been very hospitable, sharing meals with us and letting us know about the local customs. The snorkelling at a couple of the beaches was great. One beach had little blue fish I’m sure I’ve seen in Australian pet shop/aquariums. They were a brilliant blue and really stood out against the coral. Only about 3 cm long, but really pretty. The beach is called return to paradise, it was where the TV series of the same name was filmed.

We have a huge Basilica in the grounds of the compound that we live in. Mass on Sundays is a wonderful experience. The Samoans seem to be able to sing in harmony from the day they are born. Gives me goose bumps when they get going. On the first Sunday of the month all the villages in the parish gather at the basilica for a big mass. It was in Samoan but it was still nice.

The family arrives in Samoa
We’ve started teaching, all going OK. It is very different to the schools that we are used to. Rob is Form Teacher for Year 12 and I “help” with Year 10. Learning names has been our biggest challenge and the Samoan names are really different to ours so it is much harder to create an association to help us to remember. Getting the hang of it slowly. We had a welcome assembly on Friday 5 Feb 2010; that I missed unfortunately as Clare was home sick. Paul VI College (where Rob and I teach) gave us a lava lava (sarong) and Rob did a dance with the students, as is the custom here to welcome new teachers. I’m sorry I missed it!!

Learning names has been our biggest challenge and the Samoan names are really different to ours so it is much harder to create an association to help us to remember. Getting the hang of it slowly.

Nick and Clare have been going to the local primary school, St Joan of Arc; so far they are enjoying it. Each has made some friends that come around in the late afternoon to play.

We have all been a bit sick, except for Nick (touch wood). Nothing serious, just some tummy troubles. Change of food I suspect. Water here is all bottled or boiled as expected; we even brush our teeth with bottled water.

Our house is basic but comfortable. Kids have a room each at the moment. We are expecting another volunteer soon, so they may have to move in together for a month or two until one of the current volunteers leave in March. We had a baked chicken for lunch today; rather nice. So we know the oven works now. Although it’s a bit hot to do that too often.

The Hales' new house
Weather wise, nothing unexpected, hot and wet. Typical tropical weather, shower cools things down then the sun comes out and things get hot and humid again. Some days even your bed feels damp when you get in!! Our pedestal fans are working overtime especially at night to make sleeping a bit easier. We had one cyclone that we all slept through and another warning that closed the whole island down. Every store closed, schools sent kids home and closed, lots of preparation done but no cyclone came. Fortunately it missed us.

We were awaken one morning at 3am with a Tsunami warning. It was a result of the earthquake in Chile which I’m sure you have all heard about. We had to grab our most precious things, jump in the ute and head up the hill. We were up there until about 11 am, then we got the all clear to come back. Just another day in Samoa, you never know what’s going to happen!

Food for thought

The Hales identify that with their new country comes a new climate, diet, language, names, facilities, conditions and culture.

  • What aspects of Australia would you miss most if you travelled? What aspects would you be glad to leave behind?
  • Can you notice any values or customs observed by the Hales which might be common to all cultures?
  • What insights might the Hales gain, by virtue of being a family in another culture, that a single traveller might not?

Orientation Course

March 11, 2010

“Great course, Variety of activities that pushed us out of comfort zone- a real authentic course- not just theoretical knowledge…. it was great to have people participating from a variety of backgrounds- it enriched the whole group.”

Click here to read the full article

25 more prepare to volunteer overseas

January 8, 2010

25 Australians will prepare over the coming 9 days for cross-cultural work as part of Palms Australia’s 90th Orientation Course in Mittagong NSW.

Click here to read the full article

More articles

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Population: 192,749

Area: 2,831 sq. km.

Median Age: 20.8

Literacy: 99.7 %

Languages: Samoan, English

Located about half way between Hawai’i and New Zealand lies the island nation of Samoa. Formerly known as Western Samoa, it consists of two large islands, Savai’i and Upolo, and several small islets. The Samoan people are predominantly Polynesian and comprise the second largest Polynesian population in the world, after the New Zealand Ma’ori. Agriculture […]

More on Samoa

As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills. - Pope Francis (Joy of the Gospel 202)