ASCC Business Students Visit New Zealand and Samoa
March 20, 2014
By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer
A stated goal of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) Business Department course Marketing & Management (MKT 212) is that students will “obtain direct observation or in-depth understanding on how various products are produced, packaged, stored, and distributed locally and globally.” Eight students taking MKT 212 this semester obtained firsthand experience with the production of goods when they made a nine-day excursion that took in both New Zealand and Samoa over the recent Spring Break.
“Part of the ASCC Mission is to foster an awareness of Samoa and the Pacific,” explained Business Department Chairperson Dr. Faofua Faatoafe. “This course and business trip demonstrated how students can assess in many practical ways the economic conditions in American Samoa in relation to other parts of the region.”
Having raised their travel funds through their own initiative, the ASCC Business students and Dr. Faatoafe traveled first to New Zealand, and on the way home, Upolu and Savai’i. As Dr. Faatoafe explained, making firsthand observations of how overseas businesses operate gave the students the opportunity to apply much of the material covered in earlier Business courses focusing on accounting, marketing, management, business communication, workplace ethics and organization. “Over the years we’ve been able to make these visits, our department has established a bond of goodwill with many Samoa and New Zealand businesses,” she explained, “plus the cost is more affordable than a similar visit to Hawaii or the US mainland.”
Businesses the ASCC group visited in New Zealand included Bluebird and Tip Top Ice Cream, followed by Samoa Natural Factory, Uncle Johnny’s and Soap Mailelani in Upolu and several home-based businesses in Savai’i which keep families financially sound. “Visiting these diverse operations allowed us to observe how they manufacture their products, value diversity in the workplace, and establish their marketing strategies,” said student Sola Mailo, 27, of Ili’ili, who helped with group organization in her role as Trip President. Fellow student Lydia Fuatoa, 19, of Fagatogo, also expressed enthusiasm for the insights she gained first by participating in the organization of the visit and then by making direct contact with overseas businesses. “I learned the importance of time management and budgeting,” she said. “Then, by seeing the various production methods and marketing strategies, I observed different channels of distribution among international competitors. This has helped me gather valuable insights I can use to improve my Personal Business Plan.”
In addition to Mailo and Fuatoa, the other travelers included Vaosa Leifi, 20, from Asili; Theresa Mouniu Tavu’i, age 23, from Pago Pago (trip secretary); Siitupe Peter Peko, 20, from Pago Pago; Talava Sonny B. Lewis-Williams, 20, from Malaeimi; and Togasii Paul Peko, 20, from Pago Pago (trip treasurer). In addition to analyzing the overseas businesses, the group also took pride in acting as ambassadors for ASCC. “In keeping with our custom, everywhere we went, we took along some items to present as gifts to our hosts, such as ASCC t-shirts and coffee mugs,” recalled Mailo. “Although ASCC is known to many in Samoa, many people in New Zealand are not very familiar with it, which made the gifts with our College’s name on it all the more special for them.”
Since many of the students had not done much traveling prior to this, Dr. Faaotafe held group meetings with their parents both prior to their departure as well as soon after their return. These meetings give parents the opportunity to become familiar with the intentions of the journey as well as the organizational procedures Dr. Faatoafe and the students would adhere to. Just as they had bestowed gifts upon their business hosts overseas, during the post-journey meeting with their parent, each students presented his or her parents with gifts made up of products they had observed being produced during their time away from home.