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ASCC Psychology classes learning through service to the community

The students in second section of the ASCC class Introduction to Psychology
“One of the course learning outcomes is that students gain an understanding of themselves and others through the application of theories in the field of psychology”

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — In the midst of limited face-to-face class time, reduced class sizes, and social distancing due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, two summer classes at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) have maintained the College’s longstanding practice of fostering community involvement through Service Learning. Two sections of the class Introduction to Psychology (PSY 150) last week made donations of supplies to, respectively, the Nursery at LBJ Hospital and the Boys & Girls Club of American Samoa (BGAS).

For the spring 2020 summer session, instructor Mrs. Tala Ropeti-Leo integrated a Service Learning component into her two sections of PSY 150. “One of the course learning outcomes is that students gain an understanding of themselves and others through the application of theories in the field of psychology,” she explained. “While students learn these theories in class, Service Learning provides them with an opportunity to actually apply these theories.  They learn to become active members of their community and have a lasting positive impact on society by providing a service to those who need it most. Also, studies have shown that community service actually helps individuals reduce their stress, depression and anger, and increases their self-confidence, determination and sense of purpose.”

Mrs. Ropeti-Leo has long made community service a feature of her classes, with her students volunteering at sites including the Red Cross, Feleti Barstow Library, Hope House, and different public and private schools. Previously, she assigned each student to an individual project, whereas this semester she decided that her two PSY 150 sections would respectively focus on a collective goal. “Because of the COVID19 regulations this semester, the students and I came up with idea of a unified project. For both my PSY 150 sections, I divided the students into several group, with each deciding how to fundraise or collect the items needed. They chose activities like pick-a-thons, walk-a-thons and bake sales to fundraise for their projects.”

According to Mrs. Ropeti-Leo, the PSY 150 section that focused their efforts on the LBJ Nursery made that choice partially because the class included “some students who are mothers themselves and have witnessed the hard work of the nurses in making sure all the newborn babies are taken care of before being released to go home.” Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the entire PSY 150 (01) class could not attend last week’s presentation at the LBJ Nursery, but students Sabrina Uti, Celine Saelua and Olivia Faumui represented their peers. The Nursery Department expressed their appreciation for the efforts of all the PSY 150 (01) students and their instructor, and received the donation of Items including diapers, wipes, baby clothes, mittens, hats, swaddles, washcloths, pacifiers, blankets and more that filled six baskets and two gift bags.

The students in the first section of the ASCC class Introduction to Psychology (PSY 150) organized a donation of supplies last week to the LBJ Nursery as a Service Learning project. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

On the same day as the LBJ donation from PSY 150 (01) in the morning, at noon all of the PSY 150 (02) class visited the Tafuna site of the Boys and Girls Club of American Samoa to make their own gift presentation. Miss Puataunofo Tulafono, the Student Services Director for BGAS, led the class on a tour of the BGAS premises. Student Darnall Fuiava spoke on behalf of PSY 150 (02) to convey the gifts, which BGAS Executive Director Mr. Sailipea Kennison D. Barber accepted. Mr. Barber said he was moved by the generosity of the students, wished them well, and invited them to come back as volunteers if they have an interest. Items PSY 150 (02) donated to BGAS included arts and crafts supplies, flip chart paper, poster boards, dry erase markers, board games, and paint. Mrs. Ropeti-Leo also reconnected with three of her former students now working at BGAS, who had in the past contributed to ASCC Service Learning projects in support of their current employer. “It just shows how Service Learning can assist students with finding their way into the workforce,” she reflected.

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