Jamaican solo traveller Jessica White has been to Fiji and the Solomon Islands but it’s quite obvious that on her third visit to the Pacific, she has been thoroughly charmed.
The 31-year-old social worker from London, England has signed up as a volunteer for the Samoa Victims Support Group (SVSG) during the week and on the weekends, she is taking in the sights with the big island of Savai’i topping her list of places to explore.
Newsline Samoa met White at the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) Cultural Village on Friday afternoon.
“I am here for three weeks and I plan to spend most of that time volunteering. The organization deals with young people, women and the rights of the people in Samoa. It’s the only organization like this on the island and it’s very important for protecting the youth. I think it’s amazing. I’m a social worker back at home so naturally I like to work with kids and people and caring for them,” she said.
“I literally just did some research and I found this organization and I contacted them directly...they checked me out and said yeah we’d like to have you. It’s been my first week and already I’ve done a lot of work with them so it’s been a good start to my holiday. It’s important to contribute and share my knowledge and I’m learning as well how things are done here. The culture is different and so it’s good to learn and take back to my home what I have learned here. So it’s an interchange of experiences and knowledge.”
White’s family is from Jamaica but she was born in England. Having visited Jamaica many times growing up, she has been wowed by so many things in Samoa.
“The cultural village show was amazing and I feel like it’s Samoa all in a garden. We saw tattoos but they wouldn’t let us take pictures so we were kind of sad. There is the wood carving, the cooking; it’s just been amazing to see the culture. I’m from England, from London. I came here to Samoa as a solo traveller and the reason I came here is I have seen a lot of good things on TV about Samoa, watching the movie Moana, things like that and I just know it’s a place of like paradise and sun and sand and sea, like completely different to England,” she said.
“It’s my third time in the South Pacific but I love it. I am here as a volunteer. I’m working for the SVSG during the week and on the weekends and I’m going to be touring and I plan to see Savai’i and places like that. I’ve been to Fiji, the Yasawa Islands and I did some volunteering in a school there. I’ve been to Solomon Islands, to Honiara. I see the similarities in Samoa but it’s very unique in itself. I find it’s very organized here and a lot of people speak English and it’s a lot more developed than I thought it would be. It’s still very natural and lush and beautiful and very island-y but at the same time it’s very organized and structured which is nice to see as well.”
The “freshness” of the local cuisine has greatly impressed White. On the STA tour, she enjoyed hot delicious umu made by STA staff.
“The food was nice – fresh! I’m not used to fresh food in England. Everything is processed so I have to be careful because it’s so fresh and nice and my stomach is not used to it. The food was beautiful – fresh fish, yam, and breadfruit so it was very nice. Similar foods like how we have in Jamaica but it’s just cooked different. It’s nice to taste it in a different way,” she said.
“My family is from Jamaica. I’ve been to Jamaica a few times. When I younger I went there more and I was always going to Jamaica and then I thought – oh there’s a big world out there – let me see other places. I know here as well in Samoa, they like the reggae music and the reggae culture so that’s nice to see – the reggae music and Jamaica and its influence here.”
White has been hearing reggae music everywhere.
“I have been hearing reggae music as I pass the buses, on the radio and I know a few reggae artists from Samoa. I know JBoog and he came to England and that’s when I first saw him and then there was like Samoans in England and I was like ooh, I am going to this country! They’re nice!,” she told Newsline happily.
“It’s nice to see my culture is here in Samoa as well. I feel at home.”
White is a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) and is very pleased to have located a Kingdom Hall not far from her hotel.
She attended Church last Sunday and will be in Church today.