ASCC students return from study in Saipan
Two students from the American Samoa Community College recently returned from a month long trip to Saipan where they spent their summer representing the territory in the CARIPAC undergraduate research program on the campus of Northern Mariana College.
Germania Gonzalez, 20, of Aua and Elenoa Taisali, 23, of Malaeloa are second year students at ASCC majoring in general agriculture and natural resources, and family consumer science, respectively.
The two told the Samoa News on Thursday that their trip allowed them to participate in the 30th annual Agriculture Fair in which they were involved in a project that studied the presence of invasive ants in the Pacific.
The pair made a presentation of their findings and were involved in different projects dealing with aquaponics, tilapia, and food science. Gonzalez and Taisali will be presenting their project locally next week.
Altogether, there were a total of 11 participants in the program. The two ASCC college students were joined by other college students from the Marshall Islands, Pohnpei, Virgin Islands, Guam and Saipan.
Both Gonzalez and Taisali agree that their trip was a "great learning experience." They were excited to talk about the surveillance they conducted all over Saipan from the seaport, airport, and restaurants to cargo areas, parks and school campuses, in search of invasive fire ants that have made their way to Guam, which is close in proximity to Saipan.
The good news, according to the girls, is that no invasive fire ants were discovered during their search. "We only found common ants but not the invasive fire ants," they reported.
When asked what other things they learned while there, Gonzalez said "In Saipan, people are so into promoting agriculture. It isn't like here where there are not that many activities that address the issue." She said she plans to approach those who are 'higher up' in local government to request the hosting of an Agriculture Day "so we can promote local foods like taro, instead of depending on food being shipped from off island."
Taisali reminisced about the trip, saying, "Saipan has a different lifestyle than Samoa. But I did find out that they favor Samoan people because of the way we are so deeply rooted and strong in our culture."
The Malaeloa resident said there are Samoans teaching in Saipan and she was pleased to discover that Saipan is a very diverse place with a lot of "mixed cultures with outside influence.”
She said everyone in Saipan has a car, and she did not see any buses while she was there. In addition, she said Saipan has a lot more land space than American Samoa but she believes Samoans can really benefit if they use local lands for plantations, to grow food so everything will be fresh for consumption and people won't have to spend so much money buying things they can grow on their own.
The trip, and the girls' stipend, was fully funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. The girls were mentored by Pauline McFall and Ionatana Faasavalu of the ASCC Land Grant Program and they wanted to recognize Mark Flores in Saipan who made their trip a memorable one.