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The Samoan Fautasi where Knowledge and Hope Come Together

The Fautasi is a Samoan long canoe. It's roots may go back to the war canoe or simply as transport from one island to another. For today's post, think of it as a long classroom.

The principal, Tuugatiti Leauanae (we called him Leo), invited me to sit in the middle of 48 ripped rowers, a dancing captain at the stern, and a drummer tapping out the pace from this seat at the bow. This video shows a practice run for Pesega High School, and it just so happened that a competing village was practicing the same afternoon which made for an exciting "race." What the other boat team did not know was that Leo had placed hundreds of pounds of sand in the Pesega boat to slow the boys down and make them pull harder. Today, the competition was faster, but in the big race, these boys, without the sand, pulled ahead.

The Pesega team was made up of boys of different ages and sizes so I asked Leo, "How do you know where to place 48 rowers?" Leo shared that the boat is divided into three sections. The boys with the least experience are placed in the back 1/3 of the canoe next to the captain who sends out signals. He has greatest access to the newbies. They not only see his signals, they hear his voice. The front 1/3 of the boat has the most experienced rowers. They sit closest to the drummer who pounds out the beat as this group sets the pace for all rowers to follow. If one ore is out of place, it effects the entire boat. This exactness is repeated down the line of the canoe back to the captain. The middle 1/3 of the canoe, said Leo, are the workhorses, the strong and steady boys who are the engine of the boat.

The boys have different levels of knowledge, skills and abilities and the captain sits them according to needs and where they can contribute the most. Some set the pace, others sit where they captain can help them, and all are driven by the hope of unity and winning. When this classroom comes together, the boat moves amazingly fast and the boys are inspired to keep going. KhaiLearning is like the Fautasi where Knowledge, Hope, Action, and Inspiration come together.

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