Tsunami Remembrance
A member of the American Samoa College Research Foundation Student Association applies a face painting of a purple heart to an ASCC student during the Association's Tsunami Remembrance earlier this week. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

ASCC-ASCRF Holds Tsunami Remembrance

September 30, 2014

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

“We want our students to know that even though this was a tragic event we all can join together to get through anything,” said Mrs. Tiare Tupua, former Administrative Assistant with the American Samoa College Research Foundation (ASCRF) based at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC), explaining the Tsunami Remembrance held by the Foundation Student Association on Tuesday, September 29th. At the front entrance to ASCC, Association members gave students and faculty the opportunity to sign a placard commemorating the tragic event of 2009, while also celebrating American Samoa’s resilient spirit by distributing hundreds of homemade cupcakes and offering free face and body paintings of hearts in the color purple, which Association member Rinna Vollrath described as “the color of hope.”

“Our vision at the Foundation is to inspire giving and partnership with the community to support ASCC and its students,” elaborated Tupua. “The Foundation Association may not have unlimited resources, but they do have big hearts and we want their fellow students to know that they’re ready and willing to help out.” Now in its third semester the Association assists the ASCRF in its mission by promoting the American Samoa Community College’s programs and services while working directly with all students. The club members act as ambassadors of the Foundation and work with their fellow students to create opportunities such as transferring off-island and helping students find resources to meet their needs.”

While the free cupcakes and face paintings served as an incentive to attract student attention, Tupua and several of the Association members explained that the underlying idea of the Tsunami Remembrance was the importance of community spirit. “The Foundation Club members learning to give back to their community through activities such as this,” said Tupua. “Raising awareness about what happened, and remembering how we all can be affected by events like the tsunami serves as a reminder of how important it is to come together and work together.”

For Visual Arts Major and Association Vice President Manufanua Thomas, the event highlighted the club’s commitment to community involvement. “We want people to remember that if anyone needs moral support or support of any kind, our club will do what we can to help,” said Thomas. Liberal Arts major Anna Iosefo, who serves as the Association Secretary, emphasized the importance of gleaning a positive lesson from a negative experience. “The community should remember the 2009 tsunami because it was a tragic event for us--and we can learn from it,” said Iosefo. “Although we cannot prevent tsunamis from occurring, we can limit the amount of damage they inflict by being better prepared.”

While the Foundation Association had not intended the Tsunami Remembrance as a fundraising event, they did have a small donation jar which, to their surprise, garnered enough contributions for them to make a modest donation to the local Red Cross. “It’s about working together with others, collaborating, networking and just being a part of the community,” reflected Tupua. “We hope our Tsunami Remembrances helps promote what it is that the Foundation would like to do, and in turn encourages the community to give back to assist in our continued efforts.”

The ASCRF worked in collaboration with the Division of Student Services and the Student Government Association of ASCC to facilitate the Tsunami Remembrance. For more information on the ASCRF, contact Director Matesina Willis at 699-9155, extension 301.