Students speak frankly during meeting with Gov Lolo
“It’s really kind of hard to take the (government) leaders seriously on work ethics when I believe that we (young people) are not the problem,” said Genesis Tau, a college graduate who was responding to Governor Lolo’s comments to the returning college graduates, when he admonished them to avoid having a “bad attitude”.
The exchange was made during a meeting Monday for Governor Lolo’s Post Graduate Apprenticeship Program at the governor’s office. “I know your attitude is very important, it doesn't matter what degree you have — but this is Samoa, you will find it very hard to work with people if your attitude is not right… and that’s one of our biggest problems,” he told them.
“When students return home, they cannot fit into the system because they try to express a different type of attitude, but what it takes to get things done down here is team work,” said Lolo during the meeting.
Lt. Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga noted the attitude that Governor Lolo emphasized needs to be tied together with “our culture and tradition.”
At the close of the meeting, Lemanu thanked the cabinet members and all the college graduates who attended, and asked if anyone had a question, however no one raised their hands.
However, when Lemanu was making closing remarks, he was interrupted by a college graduate who wanted to comment on something Governor Lolo had said about college graduates who return home with an “attitude.”
The young woman, Genesis Tau noted it’s really hard to take the leaders seriously on work ethics “when I believe that we are not the problem.” Ms Tau said she has been working for ASG for two months and it’s been really difficult because upon arriving back on island, each time she makes a comment out of frustration, she is told, “Welcome to Samoa”.
She said it appears that for ASG “…it’s like their picture is corruption, bad work ethics and all that stuff.” Tau told the Governor that if he’s going to preach about work ethics, attitude and culture, “believe me we are putting our culture at the highest level of priority and that’s why we are back and that’s why we pursued this education.”
She further stated the leaders shouldn’t look at the younger people’s attitudes but should look at the government as a whole because even some of the old people have bad work ethics.
Tau has been working for the Vocation Rehabilitation office for two months and she stated it’s been frustrating for her and that she’s losing her drive — yet she returned home to work for the community. She pointed out she was offered a job at the Department of Human and Social Services and she turned it down because of her love for those who are physically and mentally challenged.
“I just want to say to all the Directors that each organization is a reflection of its own leader and every organization here has reflected that all of you are not doing your job; so If I may, I have a Masters (degree) and I feel I have every right to voice my opinion with all the leaders here; and everyone does have the right to voice their opinion.”
Tau also told the directors to take time to look at their own staff, to see if they are doing their job “and make sure that you are doing your job.”
Governor Lolo in response to Tau’s comments noted ASG has more than 5,000 employees and that’s been the practice that’s been ongoing in this government. However, he said with the young people coming into the system, this will slowly change.
“We recognized that problem from the start and that’s why we put up a whole week of training on work ethics, because we know that it’s a problem and it’s so hard to break that type of attitude. That’s the mindset — ‘this is government why should we do it right?’ — however with the new generation of young people coming in, that’s our only hope.”
“The old generation is slowly fading away and the new generation is slowly taking over,” he said.
The governor commended the young woman for her comments and for pointing out what is going on with this government, with the hope that this attitude will slowly fade away.
Lolo further stated that’s why he has emphasized the importance of attitude once they start working, because with “bad attitudes” ASG cannot serve the people.
“WELCOME TO AMERICAN SAMOA”
Director Ruth Matagi Tofiga with DMWR also stood up and commended Tau for voicing her opinion, however she said every director in leadership has been through the system.
“We have been through the process and until you go through the process, then you realize that you need to work with it.
“It’s not a perfect system, this is my first year being a director and it’s bad, however I work with what is given to me… nothing is perfect in this government. You look around, but this is where you come in and help out,” she stated.
The director pointed out that despite doctorate degrees, when they come before chiefs they sit at the back — and that’s what the young people need to know and learn… “Welcome to American Samoa.”
Tofiga told the college graduates this is their government and they need to help and work with the government for the betterment of the people as a whole.
The Lt Governor told the college graduates that before they draw any conclusion; they should seek the advice of their director on any issue.
“Those directors have been in the government for so long, some for over 20 years,” he said, noting that he’s new to the government, and there were a lot of things that didn't make sense to him.
However, he sought the advice of government leaders and it was then “it kind of made sense — and it’s important to have patience, because patience is a virtue and habits are very hard to change; they cannot be changed overnight.”