Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lights, Camera, Action!

Saulo, Milo and Neueli made thier first
appearance on TV
This past weekend Saulo, Milo and Neueli traveled to the capital for an interview at Samoa’s TV 3 station! We were very fortunate to get TV 3’s support for the Samoan Youth Empowerment Initiative, and they have agreed to cover the program from now until it’s completion, which will be next January when the boys return to Samoa to share their experiences of America to the youth of their villages.

When I told the boys they were going to be on TV, I got mixed reactions. Saulo was very hesitant and didn’t seem too thrilled about the idea. Neueli pretended to act as Saulo did, but told me later that he was excited. Milo seemed indifferent.

Regardless, it was the first time on TV for any of them, so I was surprised they weren’t more excited. When I was growing up in Michigan and the local TV station was at the Friday night football games, I would force myself to stay up until 11:20p.m. just to watch to see if there was a glimpse of me from the stands. But for these three kids, they were either holding it all inside or just really didn’t realize it was a great opportunity for our program to be recognized here in Samoa, as well as in American Samoa, some 60 miles away.

As I said, Neueli seemed to be the most excited about the TV interview, so I wasn’t too shocked when I saw him the night before with a brand new haircut. Milo also had gotten a trim for the big occasion. I tried to get them more excited by telling them all of their teachers and friends from school would see them, but then I realized that might be what was tempering some of their excitements down.

On Saturday morning we all made it onto the bus and got to Apia in plenty of time. We were scheduled to meet at TV 3 at 10:30 although we didn’t get started until 11:00. The week before I had met Fuapepe, the women who was going to interview us. She invited us back to the studio and I think the boys got a little more excited when they saw the cameras and set.

I hadn’t gotten all that much sleep the nights leading up to the interview and it had been a rainy and humid morning in Apia so I felt a little sluggish, but still wanted to put my best foot forward for the program so that the public would know more about what we are trying to accomplish, getting these three students back to the United Sates in December for a one month cross cultural experience!

After getting a brief introduction from me about the program (luckily I wasn’t forced to use my Samoan) Fuapepe asked each of the boys a question in Samoan. As I sat there and listened to their answers, I thought about how far they had come from those first days we had met. They really seemed to have a sense of confidence that had grown to be a part of them. I was even especially pleased when Milo called me by my name during his answer, as opposed to “palagi” the Samoan word for “white person” which they still to this day sometimes use to refer to me when talking amongst themselves!
The Samoan language is unique in that it has a less formal spoken language that people use on an everyday basis. This is where all the t’s become k’s, thus being called the k language. But in formal situations, such as during church or village meetings among chiefs, the t language is used as the formal and appropriate, or educated language. Most of the time I only hear the boys speak the k language, so as I sat there listening to them answer their questions, it was interesting to hear them speak in the formal t language with such poise.

One recurring concern that most people have about this program is the timing, in that the boys will most likely be arriving to a snowy and cold Michigan! Even if it’s a balmy 50 degrees on Christmas Day, those kids will still be freezing to death, since they get “cold” when it dips to 70 in their village!! But I tell people we’ll help the boys stay warm by having them shovel the snow!

After about 15 minutes the interview was over and we took a picture together on the set before heading out. I think it’s a day that Saulo, Milo and Neueli will remember for a while; the day they became television stars! We hope to be back again, as TV 3 wants to continue covering the program. We are so grateful for TV 3’s willingness to help us get the word out about our project to the Samoan islands, and hopefully more youth around the region will feel motivated to do something bold, work hard and dream for a goal as Saulo, Milo and Neueli are learning to do.

Editor’s Note: If you want to help sponsor The Samoan Youth Empowerment Initiative, I invite you to make a donation through, where you can send money to my account using the email: For more information about the program and how to navigate paypal, please read the previous blog posted on September 4, 2012. Many thanks for your prayers, support and contributions! Soifua!

The boys were ready for the interview the night before.

Saulo, Milo and Neueli talking to Fuapepe before the interview began.

After the interview had finished.

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