Sharing Worlds, Changing Lives

The Samoan Youth Empowerment Initiative was founded in June of 2012 as a way to allow Samoan students a chance to develop cross-cultural awareness by traveling to the United States. The program seeks to engage the Samoan students in hands on activities and interaction with Americans with the understanding that Americans will gain just as much in terms of the sharing of cultures.

Our mission is to inspire the youth of Samoa to dream, but more importantly, to act. With a focus on sustainability, we are challenging the students to return to Samoa as bold leaders, active individuals and inspirational partners. They will reach out to share their experiences and then move to act on important issues facing their local communities, churches and families. They are the future of Samoa and we can EMPOWER them!

Monday, February 4, 2013


Neueli, Milo and Saulo in the Windy City!
Luckily for the boys, I happen to live near one of the great American cities: Chicago! Although we flew into O’Hare on our arrival, that was early in the morning and after they were all facing sleep deprivation. They ended up sleeping the whole ride home and missing out on the sights. Therefore, I knew a trip to Chicago was a must do for our schedule. We actually made two trips to Chicago, the first to the Museum of Science and Industry and the second being to actual down town on Michigan Avenue.

On both trips we took the South Shore Train that leaves from South Bend, Indiana. We went to the museum in early January with my uncle and his friend. It was a great educational experience for the boys, even if they couldn’t read about everything they saw, the most important thing was that they saw it!

Our second trip was in the middle of the month and we headed to the last stop the train makes near Michigan Ave. This was their first time seeing the skyscrapers up close and so as soon as we walked to street level, their heads immediately looked straight up. We headed for the John Hancock Building where we got on the elevator to the 95th floor. We went to the lounge there and bought four Pepsi drinks for $22.00, which was still cheaper than the $27.00 admission to the observatory a few floors up—and we still had an amazing view of the city and the lake.

As we walked to the glass windows, I could hear the boys gasping at the vastness and the height at which we were standing. It still impresses me and I’ve been to the top of tall buildings my whole life! We had just been to Lake Michigan the week before so I explained to them that they were looking at the other side of that same lake. It was a true moment of culture shock, these three young men from a tiny village on a tiny island in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean were looking at this mass of human creation that seemed to go on forever. It was one of the coolest parts of the trip for me, in terms of watching their expressions.

We headed back down the elevator about 40 minutes later and continued to mingle along Michigan Avenue for the rest of the afternoon. We stopped by the Apple Store to warm up for a few minutes and ended up staying for an hour as all four of us were captivated by the i-pads! A similar story played out at the Lego Store where we were just going to make a quick pass through, but then started building with the interactive portion of the store where you could build your own creations. This caused us to take a later train back to South Bend, but I figured it was worth it if it stretched their minds to create and think in ways they hadn’t before in their own country.

It ended up being a great day, and other than the fare for the train, a very inexpensive day! There is a teenage boy in their village who is called Chicago, so I’m guessing whenever they see him in the future, their minds will have a whole new picture related to their experience that day.

Saulo and Milo enjoying the city life!

Saulo and the city of Chicago behind him.

Neueli's first time to a 95th floor of anything!

Milo taking in the sights.

I think Saulo sat like this for 3 mintues...just looking.

Group picture.

They were impressed by the beach too.

Looking up at where they had come from...the John Hancock Building

This window washer caught their attention! They asked what he was doing.

The boys were faster with the i-pad technology than I was!

Hanging out at the Apple Store.

John Hancock

I spelled each of the boys' names for my creations at the Lego Store!

Milo building.

Final creation.

The islands are always on our mind.

Looking over the Chicago River before heading to the train.

No comments:

Post a Comment