Samoan language can get you places too, retired Professor says

A retired Professor from the National University of Samoa's Centre of Samoan Studies, Seiuli Aloalii Temese, has called for a change of mindset for people who think that learning English is the only way they can make it in life.   

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Seiuli said that while English is important as the language of communication and business, Samoan people who are not good at it should not feel so bad about themselves. After 27 years in the education sector, she said she has seen so many Samoans put themselves down simply because they are not proficient and fluent in English.

This attitude, she said, needs to change.

“We believe too much in the notion that English is mainly the way to get us to where we should be with our careers, our jobs and everything but that’s just a stereotype,” she said.

“And I saw that a lot too at the University while working there for more than twenty years."

She said a lot of students probably do not understand that they can enrol in the Centre of Samoan Studies and still be successful.

"There are also students who take Center of Samoan studies and are also successful.”

Seiuli had recently retired from the National University of Samoa (N.U.S) and from her position as the Head of Department (H.O.D) for the Center of Samoan Studies (C.S.S).

The professor praised the Government of Samoa on their new initiative to emphasise the usage of Samoan language.

With the majority of the systems being manned in the English language at schools and work, Seiuli urged that there should be a balance between the Samoan and English languages.

“I am not saying to completely forget about the English language but both languages should be balanced int every aspect,” she said.

“For the kids who believe that English language is the key to success, there are a lot of jobs we can get without English and that has always been the case here in our small country.

“There are countless opportunities even in schools, we just have to emphasise more on our Samoan language and keep going so long as we also understand that the English language is not everything for anyone.”

An academic at the N.U.S, Ta'iao Matiu Matavai Tautunu also told this newspaper of the importance of Samoan language.

"Not only it can get you to the right destination but it can make us feel proud of who we really are," he said.

"It isn't just about the modernised Samoa or whatever but it's about the how and what we aspire to be and if you want to become a doctor or a teacher, we're in Samoa and we need our Samoan language and culture to achieve that goal."

The comments from the retired Professor lends more weight to calls to revive the usage of the Samoan language. This year, the celebration of the Samoan language week in New Zealand was a timely reminder for all Samoans about the Samoan culture and their native tongue.

Founder of Samoa Tofia, Taloto Obed Unasa said, "We need to save our culture, lands, and identity. You would know the true Samoan by the way he or she stands, walks, speaks, and sits.”

"We need to protect our culture and language which makes us Samoan."

Speaking about learning the language and culture, Taloto says it is important for Samoans abroad to visit Samoa and live in the villages.

"A lot of the times we are just doing things because someone else is doing it, without really understanding what is it all about, why it's sacred and why we do these ceremonies."

When asked about ways Samoans overseas can learn about their cultural heritage and the Samoan language he said, "There are a lot of other ways to learn the culture and understand the language. There are usually Samoan Aganu'u programmes in New Zealand and Australia."

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