By Lauren Hichaaba
The main activity of the Cagliero Project is a long-term volunteer program that sends volunteers for six to twelve months. The immersion program runs once every year to give younger Salesian youth an opportunity to experience a different culture and to get a taste of what a long-term experience might be like.
The immersion group was comprised of young people from Australia representing various schools and works. As per usual the group of young people were blown away by Samoan hospitality and welcome from the moment they stepped off the plane. Everyone was warmly welcomed in Leauva’a by their homestay families and the young people. The chance for an Australian young person to stay with a Samoan family is a unique and special experience and is cited by all participants as their favourite part of the immersion. The group also stayed with homestay families in Salelologa.
The major purpose of the immersion is to give Australian young people a genuine opportunity to encounter and learn about Samoan young people. There were a number of activities in the program that allowed for this authentic encounter. In both Leauva’a and Salelologa the group ran an activity day with the local youth. This included games, input and discussion. It was truly beautiful to see the engagement on both sides.
In Alafua the group had another unique opportunity, to attend the ATS: the Samoan Youth Day. This event included parades, talks, mass, Siva (Samoan cultural performances) and games. It was an honour to be included in such a worthwhile event. A major highlight for the group was a day spent in the classroom at Divine Mercy Primary School in Malololelei. The group had so much fun and it was inspiring to experience and participate in the wonderful work of the FMA sisters there.
Needless to say, the group returned to Australia weary, satisfied, joyful yet sad. As they reminded so often in Samoa: “it is easy to say hello, but so hard to say goodbye”. Arriving home, the group felt the full impact of this sentiment.