Led by the Honorable Fiame Mataafa, Minister of Education, Sports & Culture for the Government of Samoa, the Samoa National Cultural Group participated in a cultural exchange visit and tour of Hawaiian educational programs on Oahu from May 15-18, 2005. The tour focused on the roles of Native culture and arts in a modern Pacific Island society.
The Minister and the group of twenty Samoan educators, returning from a tour that included China and New Zealand, were greeted by Congressman Eni F.H. Faleomavaega in Hawaii.
“I commend the Honorable Fiame Mataafa and the Samoan delegation for their initiative,” Faleomavaega said. “This visit represents a tremendous opportunity for our Pacific Island cultures to share educational ideas. Even more importantly, we have an opportunity to acknowledge the vital role that Pacific Island cultural values play in shaping our communities. By engaging in this dialogue we are building bridges of understanding between our cultures.”
“By sharing our experiences and challenges in maintaining our traditional values in a modern society, we reaffirm the sense of community and family that defines us. For our youth, education must be provided in a cultural context and one positive aspect of a cultural exchange such as this is that it instills pride in our culture among our children and provides us a deeper understanding of ourselves and each other.”
“We are one people. We may speak different dialects, but our cultural concepts are the same. Our sense of family, and community, empower us and this is the source of our strength, a strength that will allow the Pacific Island cultures to thrive in modern society,” the Congressman said.
Highlights of the educational and cultural exchange visit included a presentation at the Hawaiian Studies Center at the University of Hawaii Manoa campus, a round table discussion at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs on Hawaiian social, cultural, economic, political and education issues, and a tour of cultural programs and activities at the Kamehameha Schools main campus. Also included in the itinerary were tours of the Polynesian Cultural Center, Pearl Harbor, and Diamond Head.