Posted On: October 6, 2017
October 1, 2017 – Santa Fe, NM
After the Saturday evening thunderstorm that greeted Beth and me in Santa Fe, this Sunday morning dawned bright and clear with pleasant temperatures. We made our way to nearby Holy Family Episcopal Church. This was the Sunday closest to the feast of St. Francis, so it was “bless the animals” day. The service was held outdoors, with about twenty people and six dogs in attendance. A memorable worship experience to begin a very special week.
We were here for a gathering of friends I served with in the Peace Corps. This Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) reunion became known as . . .
“Hafa adai, Half a Century”
When I served in the Peace Corps, I lived on Saipan in the Mariana Islands.
In the Chamorro language spoken in the Marianas, Hafa adai (pronounced “half a day”) is a common greeting, much like aloha in Hawaii. It’s a friendly welcome, a “Hello” and “How are you today?” The two Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs)–Wayne Hill and Carol Herrera–who hosted this reunion began their Peace Corps service in 1967, fifty years ago. And that’s how “Half adai, Half a Century” became the motto for this memorable week in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Wayne and Carol invited all RPCVs who served in the Marianas between 1967 and 1971.
At dinner on this first evening, Wayne Hill introduced a brand new tradition to welcome those who were newly arrived. We all sang a song in Saipan’s other indigenous language, Carolinian, called, “Sugi, sugi.” A rough English translation of the first two lines yields something like, “Open, open, the door to your house, so I can come in.” I can only guess at what the rest of the song means, but that never dampens my enthusiasm, nor that of the others present. Here are (L to R) Wayne Hill, Bev Chumbley, Tom Zink and José (“Ping”) Limes preparing to belt out the tune. Also note the open front door. You can hear what our “Sugi, Sugi” chorus sounds like right here.