Twleve School of International Training (SIT) students in the Study Abroad program for spring 2016 spent five days in American Samoa last week.
Based at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) the group was hosted in the homes of members of the ASCC Alpha Epsilon Mu chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honor society.
The SIT students’ activities included special tours of significant Tutuila locations, observing ASCC classes and inter-active sessions in which they experienced our culture firsthand.
SIT 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.
Following their midday arrival on Monday, and a brief orientation around Fagatogo, the SIT students met their PTK hosts that afternoon on the ASCC campus.
For the remainder of the week, their activities included sitting in on a number of ASCC classes, including Introduction to Philosophy, taught by Mrs. Lillian Temese, and Pacific History, taught by Mr. Evile Feleti.
Several special lectures were arranged for the SIT group, such as “Architecture and Social Change” by Dr. Micah van der Ryn, and
“Understanding American Samoa” by Tapaau Dr. Dan Aga. During a session in the Art Room with professor of the Arts Reggie Meredith and her students, the SIT group learned firsthand about local art forms like siapo and elei.
A few activities took place off campus, such as an invigorating hike to Vatia with the National Park Service.
In addition to their formal schedule, much of the true cultural exchange took place after-hours when the SIT visitors spent time in the homes of their PTK hosts.
SIT student Sophia Higginbottom of Cleveland, Ohio said American Samoa was a wonderful experience for her. She along with Emily Gove of Massachusetts, stayed with PTK member Louisa Faulkner.
Sophia said she truly felt like a part of the family that she was so lucky to stay with for four days.
SIT guide Jackie Faasisila, who has led a number of previous SIT groups on their visits to American Samoa, expressed her appreciation for the openness and acceptance the visitors always receive from their PTK hosts.