ASCC Hosts SIT Study Abroad Samoa Students
April 6, 2015
By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer
SIT (School of International Training) Study Abroad, a program of World Learning, prepares students to be effective intercultural leaders, professionals, and citizens, and fosters a worldwide network of individuals and organizations committed to responsible global citizenship. SIT Study Abroad fulfills this mission with field-based academic study-abroad programs for undergraduates. One of these programs, called “Samoa: Pacific Communities and Social Change,” focuses on the social, economic, and political impacts of westernization and globalization in the Pacific Islands.
Students in this program begin their three and a half month journey with an orientation in Hawaii at UH Manoa and the East West Center, before proceeding to their base at the University of the South Pacific – Alafua Campus in the Independent State of Samoa. They spend a week experiencing traditional Samoan village life in Lotofaga, as well as a week in Savai’i before proceeding on to American Samoa and Fiji.
When the 11 SIT students in the program for spring 2015 spent five days in American Samoa in late March, they based their activities at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC), and were hosted in the homes of members of the ASCC chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honor society. Their activities while visiting ASCC included observing classes and activities, attending special presentations by members of the faculty and staff, and experiencing American Samoan family life firsthand with their PTK hosts.
Arriving from Samoa in mid-day on Monday, March 23rd, the SIT students received a tour of the harbor area, including a stop at the Suigaula falesamoa in Utulei, where Dr. Micah Van der Ryn of ASCC Community and Natural Resources (CNR) spoke on “Architecture and Social Change.” Arriving at the ASCC campus in the late afternoon, they made their first acquaintance with their PTK hosts. Their first full day on the ASCC campus on Tuesday found them observing number of classes, as well as the rehearsals for the upcoming play “Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” They also attended a talk by CNR Director Tapaau Dr. Dan Aga titled “Understanding American Samoa,” and an Indigenous Art Session offered by Ms. Regina Meredith of the Fine Arts Department.
Off campus activities with the National Parks were scheduled for Wednesday, but the SIT group returned to ASCC on Thursday and Friday mornings, where their activities included another session with Dr. Van der Ryn, who shared an ethnographic video and spoke on health research; visits to the Center for Sustainable Integrated Agriculture and Aquaculture facility and CNR Fitness Center; and a talk on traditional Samoan tatau by frequent Fine Arts Department collaborator Su’a Wilson Fitiao before their time at ASCC concluded or Friday with a lunchtime farewell ceremony with their PTK hosts and other PTK members and advisors in the Art Room.
SIT student Emily Fariel of White River Junction, Vermont and Anna Beardsley of Catharpin, Virginia, were both hosted by the PTK’s Maria Seumalo. “I absolutely loved our time with Maria's family,” reflected Miss Fariel, “and could not have asked for a better homestay experience. The kindness with which we were welcomed into their home was truly overwhelming.” Regarding her impressions of the Territory, she reflected, “American Samoa truly does seem to encompass the ‘best of both worlds’ with strong Samoan culture combined with a little of material America. The citizens of American Samoa also seem to be very confident in their identity and culture.” Miss Fariel described ASCC as “a very diverse environment, with worldly students of many different backgrounds. While Samoan culture and language were strong, there was still an impressive amount of diversity and global perspective at the school.”
In addition to Miss Seumalo and her family hosting Miss Fariel and Miss Beardsley, PTK members Miracle Maae hosted Zach Christman of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Jeon Choe hosted Emily Danko of Woodside, California and Nina Gurak of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; Eleni Fanane hosted Caroline DiNicola Fawley of Brattleboro, Vermont; Poutasi Seiuli hosted Joe Maffly-Kipp of St. Louis, Missouri; Ilena Williams hosted Pamela Ng of San Gabriel, California; Kimberly Isosefo hosted Haley Maiden of Blue Hill, Maine; Grace Taumotoi hosted Corina Penaia of Diamond Bar, California; and Lottie Haleck hosted Robert Sakaguchi of Riverside, California.
For more information on SIT Study Abroad, visit their web page at: www.sit.edu.