AUGUST-JUNE ・ 11 MONTHS・ SHARED VOLUNTEER HOUSING ・ TEACH ENGLISH, SCIENCE, MATH, HISTORY
American Samoa, an American territory in the Pacific, is a country of natural wonders and a culture that places great value in family, community, and religion. It is also home to some stark contrasts. On the main island of Tutu’ila, you can find familiar amenities like a movie theater, smart phones, grocery stores, and even two McDonald’s locations and a Carl’s Jr. Employment here comes mainly from the local government, federal agencies, or the StarKist Tuna Cannery. Take a plane or boat to the more remote islands of Manu’a or Aunu’u and those comforts give way to gravel roads, no restaurants, limited access to groceries, and a more rustic way of life.
On all the islands of American Samoa, you will still find families living off the land, planting taro, breadfruit, cucumber, papaya, and other fruits and vegetables. Many also spend a lot of time fishing the ocean to feed their families. However, this lifestyle on Tutu’ila converges with the many conveniences of American way of life. On the outer islands most of the families have remained reliant on the land to survive. It is this dichotomy that makes American Samoa so splendid and unique.
WorldTeach is the first volunteer organization to forge a relationship with the American Samoa Department of Education (DOE), and to offer opportunities for volunteers to teach English, math, science, and social studies on the islands. In July 2008, WorldTeach, in partnership with the DOE, sent its first group of volunteers to teach various subjects in elementary and high schools on the islands. As a territory, its school system has access to US federal funding and programs, and the program has since grown substantially due to local support and demand.
The longer I'm here and the more people I meet, the more I realize that I have just as much to learn from these kids as they have from me.
While teaching abroad in the Pacific, WorldTeach volunteers have the opportunity to become part of a new culture and community and gain invaluable skills in the classroom that will transfer to any professional environment.
You will serve as either a co-teacher in elementary schools teaching English, or a high school teacher teaching science, math, or social studies. Flexibility as a volunteer will take you a long way in terms of adapting to your role in the classroom. While the DOE highly considers your preferences in your placement, the primary purpose of the program is to serve the local schools’ needs.
English is the language of instruction for schools, but Samoan is the vernacular. American Samoa ranks in about the 40th percentile according to the Stanford Achievement Tests designed for Native English Language though there is a strong variation in the levels of English skills among students.
While you are a volunteer, WorldTeach encourages you to become involved in extracurricular activities and community life. The opportunity to engage with the community outside of the classroom greatly enriches the overall experience for volunteers and students alike. In past years, volunteers have engaged in tutoring programs, started math and science clubs, participated in student governments, and coached sports teams. Numerous volunteers have prepared students for the SAT and ASVAB exams. After the tsunami in September 2009, volunteers even took an active role in the relief efforts!
You may be placed at any of the public schools in American Samoa. The majority of volunteers are placed in elementary schools on Tutu’ila – the biggest island in American Samoa. Volunteers are also sometimes placed in Manu’a and on Aunu’u – the smaller islands of the territory.
Housing accommodations vary in American Samoa. Some volunteers stay in a separate house on a family’s communal land, while other volunteers have a separate room within the family’s house. The majority of the volunteers are placed in groups of two to three per house. Even if not in an intimate host family situation, you must recognize the importance of social life at home in Samoa.
Most volunteer housing is a relatively short walk or bus ride from their schools. Volunteer placements range from relatively rural, near the mountains or the ocean, to somewhat industrial, in the Tafuna/Nu’uuli area.
The American Samoa program is funded by the Department of Education of American Samoa. This generous funding covers visa, housing, monthly living stipend, supplemental overseas health and emergency evacuation insurance, orientation and additional training conferences, 24-hour in-country field director support, access to a remote teacher quality coordinator, alumni support and networking.
Each participant is required to purchase his or her airfare to and from American Samoa. Participants will be eligible for airfare reimbursement up to the program’s travel allowance, which will be determined by WorldTeach and will be based off of costs associated with airfare between the continental United States (Los Angeles) and American Samoa.
Many volunteers are able to successfully fundraise all or a significant portion of their volunteer commitment. Please refer to our fundraising page for more information about fundraising possibilities.
Volunteers in the American Samoa program must:
- Volunteers in American Samoa are required by the Department of Education to pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam with at least the following scores for the three required subjects: Reading-156, Writing-162, Math-150 before their program start date
- Be a native-level English speaker
- Have a bachelor’s degree by the time of the program’s departure
- Be between the ages of 21 and 74
- Be highly flexible, mature, and have a genuine interest in teaching