American Youth Participate in American Youth Leadership Program with Samoa
The University of Wyoming Extension's 4-H Youth Development Program currently has twenty- two American youth in Samoa for the American Youth Leadership Exchange Program.
The 22 youth participants and 5 adult leaders have travelled to Samoa for a three-week cultural exchange trip from 13 December to 31 December, 2013. AYLP is an exchange program that is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and administered by University of Wyoming extension.
The AYLP with Samoa is designed to advance mutual understanding between the people of the United States and Samoa, prepare youth leaders to become responsible citizens, spark an interest in learning about foreign cultures, and develop a cadre of Americans with cultural understanding who are able to compete effectively in the global economy.
AYLP is unique as it also invites 22 local high school counterparts to participate in the entire program. Local program coordinator, Suzie Schuster of the National University of Samoa and Tanifa O Le Vai explains that this program instantly immerses the US students into the Fa’a Samoa as they are paired up with host siblings upon arrival at the airport.
“From the moment the team steps off the airplane, the Samoan students are paired with their new “sibling” and welcomed them to their country, their village and their homes. The dynamic of combining all 44 participants lends to creating a unique cross cultural relationship that otherwise doesn’t naturally occur when visiting overseas teams come to island.”
Schuster said the Samoan students selected for the program come from the District of Aana Alofi 3 and includes the villages of Satui, Satapuala, Faleatiu and Vailuutai and 5 Samoan Youth Leaders are students at the National University of Samoa.
The educational theme for AYLP with Samoa will focus on nutrition and food security issues that are common to the western U.S. and Samoa. Thus far they have visited with Ministry of Agriculture, participated in cooking demonstrations at the National University and toured within the private farming sector. The students have already completed over a week of this intense program which included Apia-based training of language lessons and cultural demonstrations.
While the American students learn about the Fa’a Samoa, the Samoan students participated English classes and cross cultural sessions.
After 4 days in Apia, the team travelled to Aana Alofi District for a welcoming ceremony at Satapuala before beginning their 10 day village stay with their host families. "Our goal is to truly learn and understand the history and culture of the Samoan people. One of the most powerful ways to accomplish that goal is live and work side by side with a Samoan host sibling," said Warren Crawford, Extension Youth Development Specialist at the University of Wyoming.
Following the village stays, the American and Samoan students will spend 4 days in Savaii to visit a number of ecological and historical locations before returning to the United States on 31 December.