Director's Welcome

Sherry Russell, Country Director for Peace Corps Samoa
Sherry Russell, Country Director for Peace Corps Samoa

Tālofa! (greetings!) Thank you for considering Peace Corps service in Samoa.

As to what awaits you here, Samoa’s tremendous natural beauty and fascinating culture make the country an increasingly popular international tourist destination. But it is important that you not have unrealistic expectations, thinking you are coming to a tropical “paradise” where all will be easy, good, and fun. Although Volunteers here experience all of these things, Samoa’s development environment presents significant challenges to the Peace Corps and to Peace Corps Volunteers and living conditions can be challenging. Most Volunteers do not live on or near a beach, and as with assignments anywhere in the world, Volunteers have to surmount obstacles, deal with mistakes and setbacks and be adaptable and resilient. All Volunteers face times when they wonder what they have gotten themselves into and must summon reserves of patience, understanding, dedication, and perseverance.

That being said, most Volunteers assigned to Samoa complete their service and highly value the experience. Peace Corps Volunteers in the past 40-plus years have contributed a great deal to Samoa’s development and to building strong bonds between the United States and Samoa. Volunteers have touched the lives of so many Samoans that the people here have an extremely high regard for the Peace Corps. New Volunteers will become part of a very distinguished tradition.

As with any Peace Corps program, however, some Volunteers decide that the benefits of the experience are outweighed by the disadvantages, and they go home early. This is hard on them and the people and organizations they have been helping. In many ways, Samoa is a Pacific paradise, but Samoa has its own unique challenges. So please examine carefully both the positive aspects of Volunteer service here and the challenges and frustrations that you should expect. If anything raises warning flags to you, then I encourage you to seek out more information. Accepting an invitation to serve as a Volunteer is a big responsibility. To find out more about the challenges and opportunities in Samoa, please read through the pages of this site. These materials are not all-inclusive and conditions here can change quickly, so consult other resources, too, such as the blogs of Volunteers in Samoa. Likewise, please reach out to a Peace Corps Recruiter if you have questions about applying and becoming a Volunteer

In Samoa, there is an expression, “O le ala i le pule ole tautua,” which means, “The path to a leadership position is through service.” Samoan chiefs, or matai, gain their titles through service to their families and communities. Once offered a title, the decision to accept comes only after deep reflection and consideration and is a serious commitment and responsibility. Peace Corps service parallels this tradition. Making a commitment to two years of Peace Corps service is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly.

Once you become a Volunteer you will be expected to show a high degree of professionalism. Your words and actions contribute to Peace Corps/Samoa’s reputation. You represent the Peace Corps and Peace Corps/Samoa 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. If you are ready to commit to this challenge and join the Volunteers before you who have worked hard to ensure that Peace Corps/Samoa enjoys a positive reputation, then we welcome you.

There are many rewards awaiting you both in the opportunity to serve as well as in the rich opportunities for learning. The Volunteers who excel are those who are clear about their reason for joining the Peace Corps and who come with curiosity, an open mind, realistic expectations, and the energy and motivation it takes to dedicate themselves to two years of challenging and fulfilling work.

Sherry Russell,
Country Director