ASCC/SSS hosts oceans advocate Chase
The Student Support Services (SSS) division at the American Samoa Community College hosted a unique presentation by endurance waterman/ocean advocate Bruckner Chase last week. Among other things, he heads Bruckner Chase Ocean Positive, Inc. a non-profit organization whose mission is to positively impact how we feel, think and act towards our oceans.
“I have found the best way to do that is by making that connection personal for those I meet”, said Chase, “and showing them how to take action to help themselves, their community and the oceans we all share.” One of Chase’s own personal connections to the ocean is his mastery of endurance swimming, which has enabled him to complete long-distance swims between distances such as Aunu’u to Utulei Beach.
Currently visiting American Samoa under a Hollings Grant from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation that is also supported by the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, Chase is filming a documentary that focuses on sharing the fa’asamoa and the Samoan connection to the islands and the oceans with the rest of the world. His talk to the SSS students of course had much to do with oceans and their importance, but also focused on the lesson’s he has learned through his long experience with them. His main theme was how learning leads to knowledge and knowledge leads to possibilities that we may never imagine in advance. “I told stories of my own life growing up in Memphis, leading to my becoming a matai in Amerika Samoa,” he explained. “We spend our lives preparing and learning so that we are ready for those amazing opportunities that will be presented to us. I also talked about not letting fear stop us from taking the next step. I said that I am often afraid before big swims, but fear is a great motivator that can drive us to learn and prepare to accomplish great things.”
Chase, who previously organized the Toa o le Tai Ocean Heroes Lifeguard Competition last May, was introduced to the SSS by ASCC student Mona Chang, a previous Toa o le Tai participant currently volunteering as an SSS tutor. “When Mona told me about the SSS and invited me to speak I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity”, said Chase. “I spend a lot of time working with youth and adults, and I am especially attracted to organizations that expand on the capacities and opportunities of our youth.” Recognized as a friend to American Samoa with the requisite distinction to be honored with the matai title Uila o le Sami by High Talking Chief Fuiava of Aunu'u, Chase has expressed his veneration for the traditional relationship between Samoans and the sea, and his hopes for the continuation of this relationship despite rapidly-changing times. “I see tremendous strength and potential in Amerika Samoa's youth,” he said. “If they learn more about the ocean and how to safely be in, on and around it, then they can not only help protect the waters that provide for them, but also create new opportunities for careers and life work.”
SSS Director Repeka Alaimoana-Nuusa joined her staff and students in expressing their appreciation for Chase’s knowledgeable and enthusiastic perspective on a life-giving resource many of us take for granted. “When you consider what an important role Samoans’ relationship to the sea has played in our history, with the vast knowledge we once possessed of sailing, navigating and fishing, it’s very encouraging to hear Bruckner reaffirm the importance of the oceans to our current lives”, she said. “I think we have an aptitude for many different ocean-related skills in our genes, but we just need to re-connect with them.” Alaimoana-Nuusa also noted that after Chases’ talk several SSS students expressed an interest in joining the Toa o le Tai swimming program.
Chase especially raised the interest of the SSS students when he mentioned how in many ways Samoa has set an example of a successful interaction between a culture and its surrounding oceans. “I was excited to share how others that I talk to about Amerika Samoa are fascinated by the culture here, and they want to connect and help as well”, he said. “After visiting here, I always leave energized to share these experiences with others around the world who I think can learn a great deal from how Samoans connect to their communities, the islands and the oceans.”
For more information on Chase’s documentary currently in production, and his many other activities, visit http://www.brucknerchase.com