When I first got back from Samoa, the first (American) thing I did was watch the new Tim Burton remake of Alice of Wonderland (in 3D) starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (Amazing!). Having read both Alice in Wonderland and it's sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, in high school, I was genuinely excited to revisit this fantasy that inevitably fueled my zany personality range. (Having a personality range is definitely NOT the same as having multiple personalities... haha...) Anyways, Alice is in the middle of a crucial decision but bombarded with advice from everyone else when she falls down a rabbit hole into Wonderland -- currently ruled by the tyrannical Red Queen. The Wonderland is completely different from Alice's reality. Creative and eccentric compared to her family's white-collar society, Alice finds solace in the oddities (Mad tea parties/talking animals) and challenges of Wonderland that allow her to develop into... well, the Alice everyone expects her to be. Vibrant. Fearless. Compassionate.
What I loved most about Samoa was meeting and enjoying the diverse types of Samoans. I met and befriended a business owner, barista, marketing director, United Nations health official, and cameraman to name a few. Others were unemployed and/or earned a living cutting trees or shaping lawns. Sure, not everyone enjoyed an amazing career but I could never tell whether that fact was bothersome to them. Everyone was unbelievably happy and carefree regardless of their income, choosing to focus instead on family and other relationships. At the same time, many were entrepreneurial, planning new businesses and various ways of earning a living without it totally consuming their lives.
While I don't want to bore you all with more of my observations, I honestly left Samoa wanting to move there. Having readjusted into life here in Salt Lake City, I feel like my time in Samoa was surreal. Like I fell down the rabbit hole into my own personal Wonderland. And just like Alice couldn't remain in Wonderland, I can only apply my experiences with me in Utah. But here's to hoping that I actually live in Samoa someday.