PRESS RELEASE - October 24, 2016

American Samoa Congresswoman Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (center) joins ASCC instructors for a photo following last week's Faculty Convocation, at which the Congresswoman was the featured speaker. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

American Samoa Congresswoman Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (left) visits with ASCC Faculty Senate chairman Poe Mageo following last week's Faculty Convocation, at which the Congresswoman was the featured speaker. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

Congresswoman Amata Guests at ASCC Faculty Convocation

October 24, 2016

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

The American Samoa Community College (ASCC) Faculty Senate sponsored a Faculty Convocation on Thursday, October 20th, at which they welcomed American Samoa’s Congressional delegate Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen as guest speaker. “The idea of the Convocation was to re-connect with the community at large around a central theme —be it civil, religion, politics, industry, or culture,” said Faculty Senate Chairman Mr. Poe Mageo.

“Most importantly, it’s an opportunity for the faculty to fellowship, to celebrate success stories in their line of work, to go over common challenges they put up with as teachers, to find ways to better serve students, and to align themselves with ASCC’s collective vision.”

This being campaign season, the Faculty Senate made an extra effort to clarify that they had based the choice of Congresswoman Amata as guest speaker on her long involvement with matters concerning education in the Territory, rather than as a political endorsement.  “I reminded Amata that this was not a forum, and that she was invited as a guest of the Faculty Senate,” said Mr. Mageo.  “But still, within that setting, she was very comfortable speaking about almost anything she felt was important to the faculty of the College.”

The Congresswoman’s address took in a wide range of topics, mostly related to governmental support of individual students and education in general. She opened with a personal anecdote about her own school as experience as a girl in American Samoa during an era that pre-dated the introduction of school buses. “We had to ride an old Navy barge across the harbor from Fagatogo to school in Atu’u,” she recalled, “and when it broke down, which happened frequently, we had to walk.” Her anecdote stressed the advances American Samoa has made since then in the area of education, as well as the many opportunities citizens of the Territory have in terms of access to higher education both on-and-off-island.

Opening the floor to questions from the audience, Amata fielded inquiries from the ASCC faulty on topics ranging from scholarship requirements to the state of the local economy. The audience kept the questions coming for over an hour, and the Congresswoman even took time out afterwards to chat with individuals who still wished to talk with her. “I received emails afterwards from faculty members who thought the Convocation was a success,” said Mr. Mageo of the well-attended event. “I mean, how often do you have an up close and personal meeting like this with your representative in the U.S. Congress?  The faculty felt honored about the interaction they had with Amata.”

Mr. Mageo said the success of Amata’s visit to the College has encouraged the Faculty Senate to plan more such events in the future. In addition to Mr. Mageo, this semester’s Senate consists of Mr. Utumoe Alefosio, Mr. Derek Helsham, Mrs. Ann Longnecker, Mrs. Lise Sauni – Ale, Mrs. Tasia Talamoni, Mr. Murali Gopalan, Mr. Kenneth Kuaea, Mrs. Feleni Alainuuese (Secretary of the Senate), Mr. Adullum Esera, Miss Avele Matautia, Mr. Vesi Matuu, Mr. Ed Imo and Mrs. Matagimalie Isaia.