Samoa Fiafia Trio reunite for US Peace Corps 50th celebration


The Samoa Fiafia Trio reunite in Samoa 47 years later for the US Peace Corps 50th celebrations. Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin, Karen Wyss and Robert Fallon in a live performance on Samoa FM yesterday

BY Lance Polu

APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 28 JULY 2017: The celebration of the US Peace Corps 50 years in Samoa this week has a significant meaning for two former teachers who left Samoa 47 years ago after their time as volunteers in Samoa.

Karen Wyss taught at Leififi Intermediate in 1969-1970 and her daughter was born in Samoa and has a Samoan middle name Tinei.

Former Maths and Science teacher at Channel College, Robert Fallon has already met former students who have become leaders in their own right such as Archbishop Alapati Lui Mataeliga, Monsignor Etuale Etuale, the Minister of Private Enterprise Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell among others holding influential positions in Samoa.

Returning after 47 years has a very special meaning as it is also a reunification of what they found while serving in Samoa. The popular Samoa Fiafia Trio whose music was the soundtrack to the lives of many.

Click link to see Live Performance:

The group reunited in Samoa this week with the surviving locally based member, Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin who taught at Leififi Intermediate with Karen Wyss at the time.

And their reunion has a special place as they perform live at the 50th celebration reception at the United States residence, Vailima tonight.

Both Karen Wyss and Robert Fallon are surprised by the changes in Samoa over the last 47 years when there was only one radio station, no television and now the place is crawling with so many cars.

“But one thing remains is the smiles,” says Wyss who is retired with husband Jerry on their farm in Indiana.

“In my own mind, I have his snap shot of those thatched roof fales, because that pretty much how it was when we left,” says Robert Fallon.

“What’s remarkable is that they all have tin roofs. Which I understand as change and understanding the evolution of life. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the Samoan smiles and the welcomes and the fact that Samoans are very proud of their country and it’s in their natural beauty and it’s great to be back and share with it again,” he said.

“People are so warm and welcoming you feel like you don’t see a stranger whether it’s in the hotel or on the street,” Karen Wyss said in a live performance on SamoaFM which was streamed live on Thursday 27 July. “We are very grateful to be back.”

After serving in Samoa, Robert Fallon went into banking with Citibank in Asia for 31 years.

“Although its’ been so long, the reality is it doesn’t feel like I’ve been away,” he spoke on SamoaFM and offers a message.

“It feels very familiar and it just goes to show the precious nature of Samoa, its people and its culture. This is a wonderful place and if I have a message for our listeners, please be proud and continue what you have, the fa’a Samoa is well worth proclaiming to the world.”

Locally based member Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin who is back after a long career as an educator and linguist with Victoria University in Wellington, acknowledges the Peace Corps contribution to Samoa.

“This is a celebration from the heart for me. Because I get my friends and family back (after being so long) it reminds me the wonderful Peace Corp 50 years contribution to our country. It’s not small by any means. They influenced a whole lot of people who have become influential leaders of our country.”

They founded and shared music through the Samoa Fiafia Trio. This week, they are all back to where they found something common that has and will tie them together for life.

The Samoa FIafia Trio after performing live on SamoaFM. From Left: Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin, sister Atalina Hunkin, Karen Wyss and husband Jerry and Robert Fallon and his wife.