Papatoetoe High School students get a taste of Samoa
A group of Samoan students attending Papatoetoe High School in Auckland New Zealand are returning home on Thursday with a much clearer understanding of who they are as Samoans.
That is after their two week trip visiting different schools and different places both in Upolu and Sava'ii learning more about their roots.
The trip is a first of its kind for the school.
Group leader and Samoan Language Teacher at Papatoetoe High School, Timo Fotualii Morisa, said the mantra behind their trip was for the students to learn more about the Samoan culture and way of life.
“We wanted to bring our kids back to Samoa and to give them an insight of what it is like to live in Samoa. We wanted to help them understand more about our culture and way of life,” Morisa told Samoa Observer.
“It’s been a great trip and we’re just happy to be here.”
As a teacher, Morisa said it has always been a dream to be able to bring students back to Samoa.
“When I first started teaching Gagana Samoa at Papatoetoe High, I wanted to bring my students to Samoa so they can see first-hand how things are done here so they can learn more and expand their knowledge and understanding of the Samoan culture.
"I’ve been teacher there for more than seven years now and I’m grateful that we are here with the students and it’s nice to see them enjoying this trip.
“It means a lot to us to be here for this trip and for this purpose.”
The students along with the help of teachers and parents had been fundraising since the beginning of the year for the trip.
The students were accompanied by some parents and teachers.
In Savai'i, they visited Alofi-o-Taoa College where they mingled with the students last Friday.
Taking the students to Savaii was a treat for the students from Papatoetoe High, says Tagaloa Lilo Sefo, Samoan Adviser for the Papatoetoe High School in New Zealand.
“It’s a joy for us to bring our students to Savai'i,” Tagaloa told the Samoa Observer.
“I was born and raised here in Savai'i and I’m from the village of Lefagaoalii Safune. I am also an ex-student of this school.
“The principal of Alofi-o-Taoa College, Fepulea’i Lene Selulo was my classmate back then, so being back here with the kids is something we are proud of.
“We want to show our kids how life is back here in the village and especially in Savaii because most of these kids have roots in Savaii.
“We’ve been very fortunate and we are so happy.
"The trip also offers the opportunity for our students to meet their relatives and families here in Samoa."
The group was welcomed with open arms since their arrival and during their visits to all the places they’ve been to.
They were welcomed with an ava ceremony conducted by the students of Alofi-o-Taoa College.
The host school in Savaii also carried out other cultural activities to showcase the different aspects of Samoan culture to the visiting group.
The students and teachers paid their gratitude by offering gifts for Alofi-o-Taoa. To top it off, Papatoetoe High school also offered a $1000 tala scholarship for the Top Year 13 student at the end of the year.
However, despite all the sites and schools they visited, the group’s visit to the Head of State's residence tops the list.
“Meeting the Head of State of Samoa was such a humbling experience for all of us.
“We are just so very happy.”