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AS Nat'l Marine Sanctuary assists Malaeloa student in exchange program

“The National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa views the opportunity for our youth to inspire other peers pursuing interests in marine ecology, environmental science and maritime studies to be role models, to create change and influence understanding and support for protecting our natural and cultural treasures,” says Samuel Thomas of Malaeloa.


Thomas is a 2010 Tafuna High School graduate attending Arizona State University who is thankful and grateful to the National Marine Sanctuary for their assistance which allowed him to travel to New Zealand on an exchange program for marine ecology.


Thomas received an award from the National Marine Sanctuary of AS to attend the NZ Exchange program, and recently completed the study abroad program that was made possible with support from the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.


Thomas told Samoa News the study abroad trip to New Zealand allowed him to gain a new perspective of healthcare and ecology outside of the American influence. A total of 25 Arizona State University students including Thomas were given the privilege of completing this summer semester in New Zealand, gaining six credits towards their bachelor’s degree in Global Health, according to Thomas.


Over the first half of summer they journeyed throughout eight major cities and towns of the North and South Islands of Aotearoa and experienced local landmarks and geology, as well as important ecological features and ecosystems.


He said that some of the stops included the earthquake struck city of Christchurch, the capitol city of Wellington, as well as Auckland and Kaikoura, where NZ boasts the best sea coasts across the Tasman with rich Maori culture and home to common dolphins, sperm whales, blue penguins, fur seals, crawfish and albatross.


Thomas is the son of Lupelele Iosefa-Thomas and the late Samuel Thomas and grandson of the late Dr. Amituana’i Iosefa of Malaeloa Ituau. He's the elder of two siblings and it is his ambition to be a physician in internal medicine.


“I am grateful to the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa for giving me this opportunity to study abroad and learn more so that I can help share with the rest of my peers and community that our place in American Samoa is very special. We have a rich culture, wonderful natural resources and a heritage that is intact. We are the future of American Samoa and to inspire others, we have to be involved and make a difference."


“I want to thank this program for their assistance and I look forward to working with them and hopefully coming back home to serve our people and help share why we are an important place and people in the Pacific and to the rest of the world,” said Thomas.