Two weeks ago I was one of many new graduates looking for work in Auckland. What I came across was a Seek job post that was unlike any other. An invitation to have fun in the sun in Samoa, needless to say, I was interested. But what was it all about?
It was all about a kiwi entrepreneur, who was starting a website to promote Samoa tourism post-Tsunami. He was looking for a blogger/journo type to muck in and get the stories of the place out there.
This was absolutely my kind of work, so I answered the job that night. The following afternoon, I had the gig! I had a ticket to Samoa and a few nervous butterflies about what to expect.
Breaking the news to my family and friends raised many questions that I hadn’t considered.
- What kind of living quarters will you be staying in?
- Is it a safe place to live for a Palagi?
- What is the boss like?
- What is he trying to do in Samoa?
I realized that I had so eagerly jumped in to the role because of the goodwill I have towards the Samoan people. I had witnessed – at a distance, the turmoil they had survived and seen the resilience of the villagers affected by the tsunami.
I really wanted to see more and experience first hand, what Samoa and it’s people were all about. Lets say I had a personal agenda.
I had done my own research on Dennis (the boss) and found out that he was a successful business man that had sold up his house, delegated his own company commitments in order to relocate to Samoa.
What a move! But why?
Dennis visited Samoa shortly after the tsunami had hit. He wanted to help the people. He spent six weeks in Samoa, befriending locals, becoming familiar with Samoan custom. He was touched by the Samoan way of life and came to the resolve that he had to use what he had (Internet Marketing and business acumen) to help. This spurred the creation of SWAP – the Samoan Web Ambassadors Programme.
This program is developing an information portal to Samoa and its people. Anyone outside of Samoa can log on and tune in to the intricacies of island life. It is designed to educate outsiders about the real Samoa in the hope of boosting tourism.
Ten days later I find myself in Samoa, blogging from the SWAP HQ, which is a work in progress with chippies at work around me. I have been to the site where SWAP hopes to build a visitors centre; I have seen the jungle where we expect that there will be 4WD tours; I have seen the enthusiasm of Samoan locals to use tourism to boost the status of their families and their country.
It is positive work. It is hard work but it is coming together in this “hot-house” SWAP HQ.