ASCC students on their Upolu visit
A group from the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) in Mapusaga, Tutuila has been visiting for a week-long excursion of cultural immersion, returning today.
Representing the Samoan Studies Institute (SSI), under the leadership of Director Okenaisa Fauolo, the group of more than thirty arrived Monday to spend a week on Upolu Island.
Fauolo, along with four SSI faculty and staff, accompanied the Institute’s Students’ Association for Faasamoa (SAFF), consisting of twenty-seven students between the ages of 18 and 27.
For many of these youths, this excursion is the first time several of them have travelled to the Independent State of Samoa.
Fauolo, SSI faculty, staff and students began preparing for this trip two semesters ago.
The SSI’s primary objective for this excursion is to revive an appreciation for Samoan culture amongst the young generation in the US Territory enrolled in Samoan Studies courses, which have observably and increasingly capitulated to modern influences.
Director Fauolo maintains that a key element to perpetuating Samoan culture amongst the contemporary youth is to instill within them a deeper understanding of priceless Samoan values.
Accordingly, the basic but profound objectives for the SSI students’ trip aim to reiterate Samoan values of respect, compassion and hospitality.
Likewise, Fauolo believes it is necessary for students to understand the multiplicity of a living culture and become familiar with the dynamics of developmental issues in faasamoa, while encouraging the youth to apply their prior knowledge and skills learned at ASCC.
As the SSI continually pursues innovative approaches towards engaging its students in studies of Samoa and retention of faasamoa, this cultural immersion trip has been long awaited.
Among the activities scheduled for the students included experiencing beach fale accommodations at Taufua in Lalomanu; a special visitation and presentation to the cherished elders at Mapuifagalele; a tour of the National University of Samoa campus; touring historical sites and observing the Afulilo hydropower source; and sightseeing in Apia to illustrate the distinctive urban sprawl and development.
Activities were further enriched by oral traditions, especially those unique to and significant to the various historical places observed during a round-the-island exploration.
Other highlights include visiting and/or meeting Upolu-based families, a performance for and donation to the Samoa Cancer Society, taking in a presentation by renowned academic, Leasiolagi Dr. Malama Meleisea and an archaeology presentation at the Papaigalagala, a priceless invitation to visit with the Head of State at the Tuaefu estate and participating in the independence celebration march Saturday morning.
The ASCC Samoan Studies Institute, since its inception in 2007, strives to instill a firm foundation in and promote the retention of Samoan language and culture in American Samoa’s only tertiary educational institution.