The major focus for Cagliero Project, the overseas Salesian volunteer program based in Australia, is the sending of long term volunteers. The program sent its first volunteer to Thailand in 2008. Since then we have sent over 45 long term volunteers to Samoa, Cambodia, Solomon Islands, Thailand and Zambia. In 2009 we began a yearly immersion experience to give our school students and young people an opportunity to experience life in another country and to learn about another culture. This year our group of young immersion participants headed to Samoa for the immersion. The group was composed of amazing young people from our schools and works all over Australia.
The immersion took place in our four different Salesian parishes across both islands of Samoa. The group participated in three different homestay experiences. Homestays were no doubt the most challenging, rewarding and immersive aspect of the journey. Each family welcomed our young people with the same openness and generosity they would extend to their own kin. We learned very quickly about the incredible hospitality of the Samoan people and their capacity to love. In addition to the homestays we also participated in Kava ceremonies, cultural days and we did lots of singing and dancing! At every opportunity our group ran games and workshops to bring some of our culture to Samoa so the experience was one of true cross cultural sharing.
Our group were such fantastic representatives of our Salesian schools and works in Australia and such a fine example of Salesian young people. Every single participant was open and willing to engage in all aspects of the immersion. The same also has to be said about our Salesian young people in Samoa. Their openness in sharing the positive and challenging aspects of their lives with us was humbling. Overall the experience was incredible.
A big thank you to all of the SDB personnel that made the immersion possible in Samoa. They all worked very hard to ensure that our immersion was a positive experience.
The Salesians in Samoa are doing such great work in their parishes and schools and it was wonderful to witness their efforts first hand. It is a real blessing that the AUL Province encompasses such diversity so we can have these encounters. There was a lot of sadness for the group as we left Samoa however the overwhelming feeling was one of gratitude for the special experience that we all had and the friendships that we formed.
Fa’afetai Lava Samoa!
By Lauren Hichaaba