|Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he hosted this year’s Close Up participants from American Samoa during their visit to the nation’s capital earlier this week. This year’s group represented the high schools of Kanana Fou, Fa’asao-Marist, Faga’itua, Leone, Manu’a, Nu’uuli Polytechnic, Samoana, and Tafuna.
The group of 26 participants, including students and educators, were welcomed by the Congressman at the steps of the U.S. Capitol where they sang traditional Samoan songs and posed for photographs in front of one of the most historically significant buildings in the nation. Congressman Faleomavaega then led the group into the Capitol Building and escorted them to the House Gallery where they were able to observe floor statements in the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The students then met for Q & A and lunch with Congressman Faleomavaega and his wife, Hinanui Hunkin, in his office. The students and the Congressman discussed issues ranging from American Samoa’s infrastructure to the future of the territory’s political status and how to pursue a career in politics.
Congressman Faleomavaega, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and a Vietnam War veteran, then escorted the group to a subcommittee hearing on U.S. relations with Vietnam. Chairman Steve Chabot recognized the students at the opening of the hearing before Members of Congress, U.S. Department of State officials, international leaders, and audience members who filled the room to max capacity. The Chairman then yielded to Ranking Member Faleomavaega for his opening statement during which he asked the students to stand to a round of applause from the audience.
The group was given a Capitol tour where they visited the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, the National Statuary Hall, the Old Senate Chamber, and the Old Supreme Court Chamber. One of the highlights for the students was to be able to stand on the very steps where the President-elect passes through on his ceremonial walk to the Presidential Inauguration.
Congressman Faleomavaega expressed his gratitude to the Close Up organizers for continuing to educate American Samoan students through exposure to the nation’s capital. Founded in 1971, Close Up is a nonprofit organization that inspires young people through civic education and gives teachers valuable insights to take back to classrooms nationwide. Using Washington as a living classroom, each program gives students a “close up” personal experience with government and democracy in action.
“I thank our students for representing American Samoa every year here in Washington, D.C. with an enthusiasm for education and pride in their culture. It is always a joy for me to be able to sit with our students and hear their thoughts about current issues and the future of American Samoa. I want their teachers, parents and families to know how proud I am of their accomplishments and goals for the future. Their inquisitive questions and eagerness to learn will make them lifelong learners and serve them well in any field of study they choose to pursue,” Faleomavaega said.
“I also want to thank all this year’s teachers, parents, and educators who helped to coordinate the Close Up trip and accompany our students on one of the most memorable experiences of their lives. I also commend all of our teachers, past and present, who have made the most of their experience by taking their specialized knowledge back home to their classrooms. Lastly, I want to thank the Close Up Foundation for hosting the students and allowing our office to be a part of their ‘living classroom’ in Washington,” Faleomavaega concluded.
The students who participated in this year’s Close Up program are:
Ace Levaula (Kanana Fou)
Aidan King (Fa’asao-Marist)
Jordael Hisatake (Faga’itua)
Paul Von Dinklage Jr. (Faga’itua)
Ruta Farani (Faga’itua)
Prince Tauvela (Leone)
Ula Pele (Leone)
Lei Pele (Leone)
Alisi Tagaloa (Manu’a)
Sione Kava III (Nu’uuli Voc Tech)
Anasitasia Vaitele (Samoana)
Kerryleigh Foster (Samoana)
Theresa To’o (Samoana)
Naomi Galea’i (Samoana)
Tulimalefo’i Mauga (Samoana)
Nerisa Taua (Tafuna)
Jaeleen Ozu (Tafuna)
Kimberly Iosefo (Tafuna)
Ruta Hafoka (Tafuna)
Edwina Tanielu (Tafuna)
Soaali’i Moliga (Tafuna)
Lapaloma Pese (Tafuna)
Pisavale Tialavea (Social Studies Department Head, ASDOE)
Alofagia Young-Alopopo (Teacher, Nu’uuli Voc Tech)
Edmund Amataga (Teacher, Leone High School)
Talitiga Tonumaipea (Parent, Leone High School)
Photo Caption: Congressman Faleomavaega with American Samoa Close Up students on the U.S. Capitol steps
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