| Congressman Faleomavaega announced that his office hosted a group of students from American Samoa last Friday who were in Washington, D.C. as part of the Junior State of America’s (JSA) 22nd Annual Winter Congress Convention. This year’s group of six students represented the high schools of Tafuna, Samoana, and South Pacific Academy.
The group from American Samoa arrived Friday at noon for lunch at the Congressman’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building. After lunch, Congressman Faleomavaega’s staff led the group to the House Committee on Natural Resources Hearing Room in the Longworth Building where the students took their places in the committee members’ seats and engaged in Q&A with the Congressman’s staff. Faleomavaega is a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources which has jurisdiction over issues involving the insular areas.
The group then gathered for a photo opportunity on the steps of the U.S. Capitol en route to the JSA’s Speakers Program in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center and preparations for their final debates.
Prior to the JSA Winter Congress Convention, the group from American Samoa also visited many historical landmarks including the White House and the U.S. Capitol, and took part in meetings with officials at the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of the Interior – Office of Insular Affairs.
The students participated in the program as part of a special scholarship offered by the Junior Statesmen Foundation and funded by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs. Students were selected after an essay competition that required them to submit an essay on the topic “What Are the Major Issues Facing the 113th U.S. Congress.” According to JSA, this year yielded the highest number of applicants from American Samoa. After the selection process, the participants were then given the opportunity to submit legislation to be considered by the simulated House and Senate during the JSA Winter Congress weekend.
To date, over 1700 students from the insular areas have attended either JSA’s summer school programs or presidential election symposiums. However, this was the first year that a group from the insular areas participated in a Winter Congress Convention. Altogether, 24 students from the insular areas (American Samoa, Guam, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) joined more than 900 other students from throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Texas in a two-day simulation of the U.S. Congress which allows students to meet as members of a simulated U.S. House of Representatives, as well as a simulated U.S. Senate.
“I would like to extend my congratulations to all of our students who visited our nation’s capital for the Junior State of America program. I am proud of all of our students’ selection for this enriching educational program in Washington, D.C. and I thank them for representing American Samoa admirably,” Congressman Faleomavaega stated.
“The mission of the Junior State of America and the Junior Statesmen Foundation is to strengthen American democracy by educating and preparing high school students for life-long involvement and responsible leadership in a democratic society. I am thankful for the opportunity for our students to participate in this program. The Junior State of America program offers students one weekend when they can experience the duties and responsibilities of a Member of Congress. Our students who participated in this year’s Winter Congress Convention were able to introduce mock legislation, present speeches, and debate amongst their peers from other parts of the Nation,” Faleomavaega added.
“I thank the Junior State of America program for providing this opportunity to our students and the Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) for their continuous contribution to this program. I also thank our educators in American Samoa and staff members from OIA and JSA, whether they encouraged students in their applications or accompanied them on this exceptional educational trip. The support of educational mentors and family members is also crucial to our students’ success as they take this experience back to American Samoa,” the Congressman added.
“Again, I thank the staff of the Junior State of America program for hosting our students and for allowing our office to be a part of their unique experience in Washington,” Faleomavaega concluded.
The following is a list of students and chaperones that visited the Congressman’s Washington, D.C. office
- Tiara Drabble (South Pacific Academy)
- Laumau Lealuga (Tafuna High School)
- Malaetele Lefiti (Samoana High School)
- Michael Montenegro (South Pacific Academy)
- Fa’amaoni Anthony Schaf-Ili (Tafuna High School)
- Molly Shuster (Samoana High School)
- Tapuitea McMullen (Department of Interior Office of Insular Affairs)
JSA Staff Member:
1. Larry Guillemette (Junior Statesmen Foundation)
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