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FAMSS group works to promote student leadership

jeff@samoanews.com
Pictured are members of the Families Student Support (FAMSS) Group. (L-R) Treasurer- Asoono Tasesa Jr., Founder-Maddy Vaiomatalematu Unutoa and group overseer and father of Maddy, Rev. Samuel F. Unutoa. FAMSS is a non-profit Educational Organization made up of local students from public and private schools. [photo: Jeff Hayner]

The Family Student Support Group (FAMSS), a non-profit, Educational Organization that is made up of local students from public and private schools, has a mission: it is to help students by providing a platform for the interests, needs and leadership development of young people of American Samoa. It is their goal to “empower them to become active citizens, helping our leaders build a better future” and at this time, is planning to spread their mission out to other islands, according to its founder Vaiomata ‘Maddy’ Unutoa.

Samoa News spoke with the founder of FAMSS, who is only 17 years of age, to learn more about the FAMSS mission and goals.

“FAMSS was trained, certified and established under the Youth Leadership Program administered by PiCED. It was titled then in 2009 as the Youth Leaders United for Change. So we are able to do the same for our brothers and sisters who strive to be successful, as in leadership skills,” said Unutoa.

“We are trying to work together by whatever means available in order to transform the mindset of our generation, to accomplish goals set by our parents and community leaders, as well as achieving our own educational objectives. We stand for “Learn More, Grow Wiser and Lead — and that is what we do,” she said.

When asked about what it was that inspired her to start FAMSS she answered, “I saw that it was needed, based on issues that are still growing and affecting us young people, such as school fights.

“In 2009, PiCED entitled their youth leadership program, Youth Leaders United for Change, so I thought of myself as a leader stepping up for change, as in trying to solve the issues that affect us young people in a negative way.”

“I want a better future,” said the energetic Unutoa.

She also went on to talk about spreading out to the neighboring islands, such as Samoa and other places in the South Pacific, because she said that she sees the same issues there that we have in American Samoa.

“There are organizations in these other places to help the young people, but the problem is, that they are run by adults and young people rebel against that.”

She stated that ‘peer pressure’ works in getting a young person to do what another young person wants them to do —when used in the right way, by a young person on another young person, you get positive results.

“This is something that we should not keep to ourselves here on this island. That is why I want to go to other islands. Like our mission and vision states, we are students helping students,” Unutoa said.

On Friday evening at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium the FAMSS group held a musical theatre production about the future of American Samoa and how it is dependent upon Washington D.C.

The performance highlighted the history of American Samoa’s founding father’s vision for our nation’s capital in connection with our forefather’s dreams for an ‘American Samoa’. The production included a model of the US Capitol, US White House and Pago Pago Harbor. It is FAMSS wish to take the scale size models to all of the schools in the territory, in the quest to help or provide students with leadership skills.

Samoa News also spoke with her father and overseer of the group, Samuel F. Unutoa, about future plans in store for the group.

“FAMSS has a dream. Why can’t we bring Washington D.C. here? Create a model of D.C. and make it interactive where students can learn what happens in Washington D.C. A lot of people have a lack of understanding of Washington D.C., the US Capital and how all of that works and yet, our future is dependent on our relationship with Washington D.C. That is when FAMSS decided to bring Washington D.C and the US Capital here to educate our people about it,” he said.

To learn more about FAMSS and their ongoing projects, you can contact them at 770-7021, 770-2201 or PO Box 3142 American Samoa 96799. Their office is located right behind what is commonly called Fly Inc. Store in Nu’uuli.



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