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Opinion & Essays - Aug, 1997 Issue #47

Why Western Samoa for 
Adolescent Programs? 

By: Jodi Tuttle, Educational Consultant 
St. George, UT (801) 656-1251 

Taking students out of their environment and placing them in an unknown culture creates instant impact. Wilderness programs have been doing this successfully for several years. Anyone who has traveled in a foreign country realizes that it is necessary to refocus at least some attention to maintenance when experiencing a new culture. This environment in Western Samoa takes teens into a setting that is beautiful, tranquil, and conducive to change. The Samoan culture is well known for a strong family emphasis, respect for authority, and genuine care for others. 

John William Hartís SAMOAN CULTURE gives us an idea of the diverse personality traits between people of the US and Western Samoa. 

United States Culture

  1. Have as object in life to do something to succeed. 
  2. Wish to attain best possible results in whatever we undertake. 
  3. Compete with one another. 
  4. Are individualists. 
  5. Try to control our feelings. 
  6. Consider intelligence, skill, industry and reliability to be the best qualities. 
  7. Are often sentimental and idealistic. 
  8. Prefer a democratic form of government. 
  9. Try to hoard and save. 
  10. Plan far ahead. 
  11. Consider every person responsible for his own actions.
  12. Are mentally divided and uncertain. 
  13. Have regular working hours and habits. 

Western Samoa Culture

  1. Desire above all a comfortable life and plenty of enjoyment. 
  2. Try to get through with the least possible exertion. 
  3. Help one another. 
  4. Are collectivists. 
  5. Immediately give full rein to all their feelings. 
  6. Set birth, beauty, hospitality and courage above all other qualities. 
  7. Are realistic. 
  8. Consider a totalitarian system with hereditary rulers natural. 
  9. Are continually giving away necessaries of life of all kind, but receive many others in return. 
  10. Seldom trouble about the morrow. 
  11. Consider a personís entire family and kindred responsible for what he does. 
  12. Are confident and certain in their faith. 
  13. Let circumstances decide. 

Western Samoa is officially the Independent State of Western Samoa, a constitutional monarchy (1994 est. pop. 204,000), 1, 133 sq mi (2,934 sq km), comprising of nine islands in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean. The Samoan people are predominately Polynesian, with about 7% a Euronesian mix. The Polynesian population is 70% Protestant and 20% Catholic. English and Samoan are both official languages, English being the second language. These islands in the South Pacific Ocean enjoy a tropical climate with an average rainfall of 113 inches and an average temperature of around 80 degrees with 85% humidity. 

Most Western Samoans still live in small villages in the valleys or on lower mountain slopes, where pigs, cows and chickens roam freely. Many villagers still live in homes, called fales, that have thatched roofs of palm leaves and the walls (if there are any) are made of braided leaves, with mats of coconut covering the floors. There is a multitude of fish in the ocean and a host of fruits and vegetables that grow naturally. The weather ranges about five degrees in temperature on a year-round basis. One can easily understand that citizens of these islands desire above all a comfortable life and plenty of enjoyment. 

Imagine a teenager who has been struggling with behavioral, emotional, or social differences arriving in this culture. He/she is immediately impacted by the alien culture and the serene environment that inspired great literature from Robert Louis Stevenson. The diverse culture and simple lifestyle on this most beautiful island, with very few tourists, insures that Teens are not burdened with a lot of distractions. This allows them to focus attention on the issues they need to address in order for the healing to begin. 

Copyright © 1997, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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