As the clock ticks down to the start of the Pacific Games, the schools and villages response with their entertainment and decorations is inspirational.
We may not all agree on income taxes for ‘faifeau’, Chinese investors, national budget, pulling down the old courthouse or waking up too early to raise our independence flag, but for now all that are or have been set aside.
We have a regional Games to host and we have to stand shoulder to shoulder so we could roll out the red carpet of welcome for our regional family neighbours.
We are doing ourselves good so far.
The eyes of the region and the world are ready if not already set on full scan to watch and analyse what we have in Samoa worth looking at and talking about.
We are under the microscope.
Hanging streams of buntings along the roadside and getting the kids to sing and dance are only a foretaste an appetizer
The main course is going to come when the visitors interact with us as hosts and learning from personal experience what Samoa is truly like.
Our guests have beaches, warm seas, restaurants, hotels, coconut trees and even taros, where they come from.
What they will be particularly keen on is to experience what we as the Samoan people are like.
Are we friendly? Are we helpful?
Will they be safe living with us for the few days they will be here under our care and hospitality?
Are we worth bragging about back home when they return from the excitement of the Pacific Games?
Will the warmth of our welcome and the memorable moments enjoyed during the Games enough to bring them back for another visit?
Will they encourage friends and relatives to visit and enjoy Samoa as they did?
These and more are what our guests will judge us by. This is the bigger picture behind the smiles and hugging arms we will openly display in our offer of hospitality.
While our athletes strive to win us medals and make us proud, we as citizens have a much bigger challenge in our quest for success.
Our goal is to win the gold for the best host country in any Pacific Games. If we want to win the top spot on the medal podium we have to work as a team.
Team work is making sure you pull your weight. If it means a friendly smile or a helping hand or support, do it with genuine intention.
In competition, it is always a measure of high personal standard to applaud outstanding performances. We naturally favour our athletes to do well but there will always be others who are going to do better.
This is nothing new or degrading about it.
The better athletes have trained harder with more exposure to higher standards of competition that stands them out from all the others including our home champion.
We congratulate them for their deserved success and for the enjoyment they gave us as spectators with their exceptional sporting skills.
This kind of acknowledgement is good sportsmanship. This is what the spirit of sporting competition is all about – this is universal.
We swallow our disappointment in our champion not winning but we compliment the better athlete who is more deserving for doing well.
All these little gestures of support and show of appreciation are the ingredients that we add and stir in the pot, to serve our guests and the feasting eyes of the region, a meal of warm welcoming hospitality they will never forget.
This is our gold medal challenge.