Our friends from the U.S. Coast Guard visit Samoa regularly as part of their navigation infrastructure, fisheries, search-and-rescue, and security work. Earlier this month my colleague Chad sent me a few photos taken during the most recent visit by the U.S Coast Guard Cutter Walnut. You might remember the Walnut from prior posts because that was the ship that helped us avert a humanitarian crisis in Tokelau by delivering fresh water almost exactly a year ago.
After patrolling the seas and tending navigational aids for an extended period, the ship docked in Apia this month to allow the crew to take a much deserved rest and recuperation break. True to form, though, instead of hitting the beaches several crew members visited Samatau Primary School to talk with students, learn about Samoan culture, and answer questions about the United States and working at sea.
From what Chad tells me, both the crew and the Year 7 & 8 students thoroughly enjoyed the exchange. The crew talked about their jobs and the different places they grew up in the United States. The students practiced their English by making presentations of their own, including about Samoa and their new American friends. There was plenty of discussion.
The students then gave the crew a real taste of true fa’a Samoa. The boys taught the Coast Guard men the fearsome Manu Siva Tau, the war dance and chant performed by Samoan sports teams before their matches. The Samatau girls taught the Coast Guard women the graceful Samoan siva. After the dancing, the sailors learned to make lunch the Samoan way by scraping out coconuts to make cream and roasting breadfruit on an open fire.
It’s clear from the pictures that Chad sent me that everybody had a great time. I’m sure that my friends from the Walnut won’t soon forget their visit to Samatau Primary School. I hope to be in Apia to accompany them to another school when they next visit. We are looking forward to hosting the Coast Guard and other ships more frequently in Apia as a result of the Shiprider Agreement that Samoa and the U.S. signed this past June. I’ll keep you apprised.