Students reflect upon their field trip to the Fono


Earlier this week freshmen students of the American Samoa History Class at Tafuna High School took a field trip to the Legislature to learn about the history and workings of the Fono, the Senators and Representatives. Following the field trip Pogai Coffin, who was in charge of the excursion, asked the 60 plus students who attended to write up ‘reflection papers’ on their Fono experience.

Samoa News in partnership with Coffin decided to choose three of the best essays from the 44 essays that were submitted, and the top three essays are presented here today.

Each of the winning students will receive movie tickets from Samoa News.

Reflection of our field trip

by Virginia Siatu’u

On our field trip day I was more than happy to attend the Fono. On October 22, 2012 our class and also fourth period got to see how government Legislative branch functions. Our class was split in two groups , others went to the Senate while the rest went to the House of Representatives.

Our class had the chance to experience how the sessions are conducted and how the Senators decide issues that occur in our territory.

Representatives and Senators both have equal power and they interpret the laws of American Samoa.

Anyone can become a Representative or a Senator however there are requirements that should be met in order to be eligible.

To be a representative or a senator, you must be a US Citizen, or US national. With being a Representative you must be 25 years of age, while being a Senator you must be 30 years old. There are 18 Senators and 21 Representatives and if a law is submitted to be passed, it has to be passed by the house of representatives and the senate in order for it to be sent to the governor’s office for the governor to sign it into law, or veto the bill.

At the beginning of every session a fofoa is blown and the Senate President or the Speaker of the House will lead the session.

A quorum is needed prior to having any session in the House of Representatives or the Senate.

Field trip to the Fale Fono

by Simitioata Tuiolosega

I have learned from yesterday’s (Monday) field trip that the Fono is part of our Samoan culture. When our class entered the Fono it was quite a moment. The field trip gave me an understanding of what happens in our legislature.

During the sessions in the Senate and House of representatives was very cultural especially viewing and listening to how the Fono operates.

The senators gave us powerful and encouraging advice to always hold onto our culture and heritage from our forefathers.

It was a great experience, listening to the leaders of American Samoa speak to us and it is something I will take with me for the rest of my life.

Every single word that was uttered by the Senate President Gaoteote Palaie Tofau to our class was very touching and very true. It was an experience I will never forget.

My trip to the Fono

by Johnny Toma

It was an honor to be part of the field trip to the Fono. It was exciting because we were just right in time for the session and we had to be on our best behavior during the session.

It was my first time seeing almost all the representatives in their seats, what an honor.

After the session we had a conversation with Tualauta Representatives, Larry Sanitoa, Tapumanaia Galu Satele and Ituaumalosi Representative Archie Taotasi Soliai.

I asked three questions— what happens when the representatives of a District is not present at the session, what happens when a representatives passes when it’s not close to election, and what do you think, that senators should be elected or still be selected.

The representatives said that my questions were really good questions. Before we left the Fono the representatives signed my school bag and said “thank you” for asking those questions.

During the session I observed the Speaker of the House, Savali Talavou Ale and thought to myself, it is hard to be the speaker and leading the session. The Speaker made sure that the representatives are present prior to beginning of the sessions and I had a great time!


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