635 Samoa Life

Patricia talks about life on her island of Samoa.

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Joel: I'm sorry Patricia, I'm completely ignorant about any history in Samoa. You said there's an American and then the Western side? And who was that originally --was that a colony of another country?

Patricia: The American Samoan territory is an American territory itself, even until now it's still under the States (the United States) but Western Samoa, which in 1997 has recently changed the name, to Samoa alone, they were under the British colony, German colony as well. And then in 1919 they became a New Zealand mandate.

Joel: What does that mean?

Patricia: It means that they were under --like you are aware that New Zealand is under the British rule? But they have their own independent state itself. It's like that whereby Samoa is a British country --colony but it's being mandated, or taken care of, by New Zealand which that anything -- we don't have a, for example, we don't have an army. We use the New Zealand army to take care of us. Any political decisions that we need to make it has to be done by the New Zealand...

Joel: And so the same is true of the American side?

Patricia: I don't think so. I believe they are very different. They are more under-- OK, to a certain degree but the American Samoan individuals are more Americanized.

Joel: I see.

Patricia: Like, from our side, the Samoan side, we're more on traditionally-based rules. Even though we listen and even though we need a decision made by the British and the New Zealand mandates but we're more on a local-- we have a "matai" system which means that we have leaders from each village which counsels us. These are the only individuals who are allowed to decide. But after our decision we give it to the New Zealand and British mandate. For the American Samoan people, the who system is governed by America.

Joel: So have you lived in England or the United States before?

Patricia: No. Not at all. I haven't been there yet?

Joel: And what about just the popular culture? Like, do you watch American TV shows?

Patricia: Yes.

Joel: Or British? Or New Zealand?

Patricia: With Samoan families we have some people on our island like for example I have a friend who is in the university now. Her father is from the other island, the American Samoa, her family is more based on the American system side where they watch American movies and so on. And then you have people who are more on a New Zealand basic, like, view. And Australian lifestyle.

Joel: You know in the United States, we never see New Zealand TV or Australian TV or British TV and I always think that people from other countries, they see American movies and American television but Americans don't see any of that from countries outside the US so we have kind of a bit of a closed culture but you watch also British and New Zealand, so you know all of it.

Patricia: That's basically the interesting thing about living on an island. You don't get to decide which country you are supposed to be, who you are supposed to be on the same side with. Basically what you do is, when you are born into a certain family, they have certain rules, they have a certain sort of way of living, which means that if you are from a family that has British lines or American lines, basically you will have both the lifestyles of a British and American normal Somoan family.

Joel: So you are much more multicultural.

Patricia: Probably.


Learn Vocabulary from the lesson


I'm sorry, but I'm completely ignorant about any history in Samoa.

You are 'ignorant' about a subject when you know nothing about it. Notice the following:

  1. He is a very smart person, but sometimes he acts completely ignorant.
  2. Sometimes I feel like I am ignorant when it comes to computers.

to a certain degree

To a certain degree, the American Samoan individuals are more Americanized.

When something is done 'to a certain degree' it is done partially, but not completely. Notice the following:

  1. I understand what he says to a certain degree, but I would like a translator for clarification.
  2. They are sisters, but they are only alike to a certain degree.


After our village leaders make the decision, we give it to the New Zealand and British mandate.

A 'mandate' is a group that can make commands or orders in a country. Notice the following:

  1. The mandate makes all the decisions about transportation changes.
  2. A mandate was formed to deal with issues like this.

closed culture

Americans seem to have a closed culture, because they don't see much of other culture than their own.

A 'closed culture' does not have much information coming in from other places. People from a closed culture would be very focused on just what's going on in their country. Notice the following:

  1. It's hard to believe that a big city like this could have such a closed culture.
  2. It can be very hard living in a closed culture when you are used to something that is more cosmopolitan.

basically what you do is

When you live in a multicultural place, basically what you do is adopt those different lifestyles.

'Basically what you do' is a way to summarize the actions that you take or what happens. Notice the following:

  1. If you want to get a good grade, basically what do is study.
  2. Basically what you do is watch TV with your friends when you have free time.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
ignorant • certain • mandates
closed • basically
  1. Many local tribes lost their power when British were put in place.
  2. If you want to study abroad, what you do is decide what you want to study and then look for a program that is good for you.
  3. She says her boss is good in business, but he can be to the way that people feel.
  4. Since he grew up in such a culture, traveling really changed him.
  5. To a degree, I think this is the best thing that could have happened for you.