"Growing up in Paradise"

Life of an Island girl before she left the homeland

       "Growing up in Paradise"
Photo by Ethan Elisara on Unsplash

Growing up in Samoa, was a simple, beautiful yet poor life. Go to church every Sunday then followed by bible study sessions which is, I highly doubt you can get out of as it is compulsory within the church as it is to culture. I always had two mates that would pick me up from my house and we'd go together, and I'd never take my siblings because they would always be too much trouble which I regret now because I was harsh on them, not all the time but sometimes. They were little kids, they were too much to handle for me aha. Go to school and repeat, do the work as well as do the teachers lunch chores every time the lunch bell rings. Afterwards we clean up, wash the dishes after school. But it always depends on who the teachers pick, which was sadly always me and my friends. Our principal had a habit of picking on me and my mates and always unavoidable. On our way home after school, its a task to drop of our teachers school work as they stay behind school. We get home, do our chores and repeat the whole cycle but fun was never a problem. That's why our childhood was fun and added with a little bitterness. And after that I would walk to our uncle's shop and come back with groceries and leaving him with a big tap hehe,but it was OK because he was our family.

Bingo every Saturday night and you never know if its you who'll be lucky with a big box of noodles or a box of soap. Those were always the winning prizes and sometimes with a money prize of $500 and under. But luckily my mother had a special skill with money gambling which was 50% good and 50% bad for us and to her as well. No matter what she'd win, we were always and still are grateful with what we receive and achieve throughout everyday. Respect your elders was a given growing up, no question to it because it just made sense. Teen boys and girls had to wear i'e lavalava as a respect for their body and also to their elders, little kids wear attire any other kids would wear, which I found lucky. Night curfews in every village in Samoa was a go to, and a had to. These are the simple things I know and grew up with as a Samoan, and the language which indeed I love to speak. Whenever I'm with my Samoan group of friends, when I'm with them, they bring back the old kid that grew up in Samoa, and it makes me happy, it makes me want to go back home.

This feeling Iv'e never had when I was around my family relatives. Our family has always been just my parents and sibling's, never a extended family which is almost common 90% in the Samoan Culture. You could say it was probably a good thing for us growing up. My father's older brother and cousin were the only relatives that cared for us and supported us financially every time we needed help. They were our favorite uncles, but when one of them died everything was different, my father was hurting it wasn't obvious but you could feel his heart from a mile away. Our other uncle is now trying to claim our land we grew up in which is obviously so stupid. You can possibly say that I now have mixed feelings for the man. As someone that grew up in such a respectful and cultured environment, I can honestly say I learned so much about being a Samoan. The respect, the love and so much traditions that makes you forget about hardships. But when we moved to Australia, I can also be honest and say, I lost the values of what's it like to Samoan. Maybe because I thought my parents did so. But I didn't know better when I was 14 years old.

Because I never continued growing up back home. For someone like me that's always dreaming big and wanted to move because I knew I was never gonna achieve it staying there. Samoa is a beautiful paradise, fun and daring with adventures. But opportunities are not found there. I do not know my culture down to the core, I still struggle with doing certain traditions that I always wish I could do eg; like doing folafola ava, I was always picked to do it when I was back in school but I was a scared little bitch aha, and so many more even when it was also a subject in school that found very difficult to understand because it was so deep. I learned it again moving on to 9th Grade in Avele College and I'm glad I did. I witnessed my seniors performing our traditions of music and dance performances and I'm sad I never had the chance to fully get in depth with it. Knowing how to speak the language, which I'm glad is something I never lost when we moved, and primary knowledge to my culture is more than enough for me now, as I continue to learn everyday with today's technology and here at home. I may be far away from home but my heart still yearns for the culture and sunrise that I always used to wake up.

immediate family
Hope Oldehaver Tuia
Hope Oldehaver Tuia
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Hope Oldehaver Tuia
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