N.U.S. to host major Samoan conference

By Adel Fruean 23 October 2021, 11:53PM

The National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) will host the Eighth Measina a Samoa Conference this week at its Lepapaigalagala Campus. 

This conference theme this year is “Enhancing Samoan resilience during the Pandemic”. N.U.S. President and Vice Chancellor, Aiono Professor Alec Ekeroma highlighted the importance of this year’s theme and acknowledged Meleisea Professor Malama Meleisea, former director of the Centre of Samoan Studies.

It was Meleisea’s original idea to have a community discussion on how Samoan people here and abroad are coping during this time of a global pandemic.

“At the same time we also have to consider how the pandemic has shaped our teaching and research and contributions to Samoa’s efforts in enhancing our people’s resilience during these hard times,” said Aiono in a statement released by the university.

“Our people and their lived experiences are the treasures or Measina a Samoa and this is the pandemic of our lives.

“Every aspect of our society has been affected from our mobility, economy, education, food security, health and wellbeing. 

“The Government has been instrumental in trying to get us COVID ready so it is important to have presentations from various seasoned and emerging researchers with Samoan interests to report how their researches inform policies and community actions and resilience.”

Two Samoan academics have been selected to deliver the keynotes for this year’s conference.

Toesulusulu Associate Professor Damon Salesa, the Pro Vice Chancellor (Pacific) from Auckland University is the opening keynote speaker via live ZOOM. 

Salesa – an award winning historian in the area of colonialism, empire, government and race – will give a long overdue assessment of how Samoan society has coped with pandemics over the last two hundred years.

This will be done through a paper titled “Samoan Pandemic: Then and Now”, drawing on the Samoan experiences of the 1918 Influenza epidemic and other earlier epidemics in comparison to the developing history of the COVID 19 pandemic, highlighting the Samoans’ experiences in Auckland, New Zealand where he is based. 

Muagututia Professor Ioana Chan Mow of the National University of Samoa opens the second day of the conference with a paper titled “Leveraging technologies to build resilience in education within the COVID era: the case of NUS”.  

Muagututia, a leading Samoan scholar in information technology and computer education, highlights how the COVID pandemic brings a new dimension to Samoa’s engagement with technology to embrace ‘the new normal’ as part of resilience.

“With the spread of the COVID pandemic in early 2020, most countries, including Samoa, were forced to go into lockdown. 

“Most activities requiring human gathering and interactions were shut down- including schools, shops, churches, offices, and airports. 

“These changes required measures or strategies to recover or adjust to these changes which in most cases were sudden and unplanned for.”

Muagututia’s discussion will showcase the synergies between these initiatives which have enabled the transition to the new norm, enabled teaching and learning continuity, and make valuable contributions to workforce recovery, particularly in times of lockdown. 

The Measina a Samoa conference is a biennial conference which is usually delivered in the Samoan language. This year the university has allowed presentations to be either in Samoan or in English.  The two day conference starts on Thursday 28 October at 9.00am. Interested members of the public are encouraged to register and attend either face to face or online.

By Adel Fruean 23 October 2021, 11:53PM
Samoa Observer

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