Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Interesting Tidbits

Since the past few days have been mainly filled with research-related tasks and activities, I haven't had much interesting material to write about.  Everything with the research is going great, and we think we might have a group of four young Samoan researchers who are interested in working with us on the project (we need translators).  However, I thought this would be a good opportunity to write up a few "interesting tidbits" on American Samoa and Samoan culture that I have observed so far.  So in no particular order: 
  • There is no such thing as a short conversation.  Even quick meetings end up taking a long time and discussion can easily extend on tangents.
  • Everyone sits or everyone stands.  It is very rude to stand up and talk to someone who is seated.
  • A smile begets a smile.  When driving around the island, especially in more rural areas, it is almost expected that you wave at pedestrians as you drive by and they back at you.  It really does prove the friendliness of Samoan culture.
  • The only billboards are public health announcements.  I know it seems weird, but this really is true.  Every single billboard is from the Department of Health, offering some message to Samoans.  For example, "School sucks. But having a baby sucks even more."
  • Non-Samoans cannot own land.  Even US citizens must rent.  Probably a good move on the part of American Samoa to prevent a total culture invasion.
  • There are no traffic lights.  I guess they figure that with only one major road and an island-wide speed limit of 25mph, they're just not necessary.  However, the first traffic circle was actually just installed 2 days ago.
  • There are no street addresses.  The checks for our research funds actually say "Behind the golf course" as our valid address.


  1. please tell me you've had stuff shipped
    I would love to see the post office here react to "behind the golf course"

  2. Haha, we also have a PO box, which we use to get mail. But that would be great.