On August 17, 2015, the International School Network visited the Embassy of Samoa to interview the Ambassador, Her Excellency Ms. Faalavaau Perina J. Sila-Tualaulelei, about her country.
H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei was wearing a traditional Samoan clothing called puletasi. Women in Samoa wear two piece dresses, especially for formal occasions.
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H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei mentioned that similar to Japan, students in Samoa are very studious. Students take their school work very seriously, as education is a valued priority in Samoa. The literacy rate in Samoa is exceptionally high, with 99.9% according to UNESCO. H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei explained to us that the main difference in education between Samoa and Japan is the timing of schools. Samoan schools start in the morning and end at 3 pm whereas Japanese school students tend to stay at school for a longer time to take part in extracurricular activities. The two main systems of education in Samoa are formal and informal. The formal education system includes primary and secondary education, and the informal system consists of classes taught by Sunday schools, provided by the church. This school is attended by many people of the older generation.
Nature and its Preservation (Kate)
Samoa is a tropical country with a beautiful environment and very clear beaches. The nature of Samoa is the nation’s main feature that attracts tourists from all over the world. The government of Samoa focuses on preserving nature and its research on climate change. The sea level rise happening throughout the globe has a huge effect on the small island country, Samoa today. Many beaches have been eradicated in one generation. Ambassador Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei herself has stated “the beach is no longer there” emphasising that global warming directly has an effect on people and their societies. She states that it is not just a matter of losing food but it is becoming a “human security issue”. As sea levels continue to rise, global warming will take away the islands itself, forcing people to leave their houses, villages and their hometowns. The Samoan government and people are making efforts to protect the islands by shaping its future policies of handling the environment. People must incorporate and train, especially the young generations, to think of ways on how they can integrate and support national activities.
H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei introduced to us a quote that she is fond of. “Culture that doesn’t adapt to changing times will die.” For generations, Samoan culture has adapted to the changing times while preserving the “main heart” of culture. “Fa Samoa” is a Samoan expression that conveys the Samoan way of life. H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei explained that Samoan people make sure to teach the children about the traditional way of life.
Families are very close-knit in Samoa, as children take care of their parents, and family members take care of each other, especially those who are in need. H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei herself makes sure that her son calls his grandmother at least once a week. Children are taught how to carry out the house work, learning skills such as cooking and cleaning.
Samoan people are also very hospitable, as they invite people over whenever someone walks infront of their house. The Kava ceremony is the highest form of greeting in Samoa, where people drink ceremonial beverages. H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei explained that “extended love for everybody” is seen in the daily lives of Samoan people.
H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei showed us a video of a lively traditional Samoan dance. She explained to us that dancing is a great way to express feelings and emotions, especially joy and the sense of welcoming. It brings a national pride and unity to the country. She also mentioned that dances are mostly done to express happy feelings, and that sad feelings are often expressed through songs and hymns, which are made personally and sung at funerals.
Culture Values (Kurumi)
Ever since English missionary, John Williams introduced Samoa to Christianity, the country became interlinked to Christianity. Majority of Samoans are Christians and Christian churches can be seen throughout the nation. Because of the firm belief in Christianity, the Samoan government embodies the Christian beliefs as well. It is believed that "Samoans are founded in God". Moreover, H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei told us that Samoan people believe in honesty and being hospitable. "We are very transparent in what we say," H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei began, "We enjoy each others' company and we love to feed other people. We always have a lot of food on our table. It's part of our social tool." In Samoa, it is culturally expected to bring food to a household you were invited to as a guest.
Samoan Pride (Kurumi)
When asked what she feels proud about her country, H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei commented, "Samoans are proud people and this embodies the people of Samoa. We are hospitable and honest in relationships. We believe that what we have is what we have. We don't question things too much." She also added that Samoan people work for what they have and the important thing is that Samoa has good relationships with governments of different countries. At a local level, they call people as "friends" and at a formal level, they call people "partners". "We support each other. Japan is an important friend and partner to us," H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei said.
Gender equality (Kurumi)
"Gender equality is something every country is trying to promote, yet I cannot be 105% sure that some countries have been successful of gaining 100% of it. However, we Samoans, aspire for gender equality. Our government is doing everything they can from the village level," H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei spoke. As a result of this, a law was made that allows more female involvement in the Parliament. The government is working to ensure women's place in society. Furthermore, there is a Samoan saying, "the sister is the pupil in her brother's eye". This represents the Samoan traditional belief that the role of a brother is to care for and protect his sister physically and mentally. Although ideas have been changing through generations, there are also Samoan traditional customs, in which women stay at home to do inside work (cleaning, washing dishes etc.) while the men cook (outside work) for the household. “We try everywhere but like I said, nobody’s perfect. I'm very glad to hear that Prime Minister Abe is making a movement to give more opportunities to women. I think Japan is heading towards a good part,” H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei commented.
H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei’s background consists of studying international trade and relations, and development. She has worked in the foreign services sector for over 20 years, and her position as an ambassador in Japan is her third posting overseas.
H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei is very interested in business, as it is also her family’s forte. She explained that her interest in business has made her very passionate in her aspiration to increase trade between Samoa and Japan.
H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei is very passionate about working as an Ambassador. Firstly, she enjoys being able to promote Samoa and Japan. She wants Japanese people to understand where Samoa is, and who Samoan people are. She is hoping that more people will be able to recognize Samoa as a lovely country whose people loves the world, and promotes peace and development.
H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei also loves making new contacts and establishing new business connections. She is interested in trade and politics, and so she is passionate about increasing the connection between Japan and Samoa. She is also personally very excited to learn about Japan, especially the colorful history. H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei mentioned that she would like to visit Hokkaido in the summer and Osaka in the winter, where the temperature will be rather mild.
At the moment, trade is not prospering as much between Samoa and Japan. Although Noni juice is imported to Japan, H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei hopes for more Samoan goods to be imported to Japan. At the moment, the Samoan Embassy in Japan is trying to facilitate goods such as coconut cream, Palusam, beer, and fish products. She is hoping to increase cultural exchange between the two nations and increase awareness about Samoa to the Japanese people. H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei is attempting to attend various festivals which sometimes involve dancing in order to promote her country. There are a number of Japanese experts in the Samoan government but the relationship is only developing at a formal level. She would like to extend this relationship to local students. She suggested that rugby maybe a way of connecting Samoan and Japanese students.
When asked what her goal as an ambassador was, H.E. Ms. Sila-Tualaulelei stated that it is to “continue to serve the country with the best of my ability”. She hopes to promote activities such scholarships, trade, and cultural exchanges to strengthen the relationship between Samoa and Japan. She wishes to serve for Samoa and help the nation by promoting in different ways.
Madoka Nishina 11th Saint Maur International School
Kate Shimizu 11th Seisen International School
Kurumi Onishi 10th Saint Maur International School
Karen Nishina 5th Saint Maur International School
During December 2014, the International School Network went to the Embassy of the Independent State of Samoa to interview Ambassador Dr. Kilifoti Eteuati about his country.
Samoa is an island country that developed unique traditions along with its strong relation with nature. Music and dancing has always been an important part of their lives. People often sing together in the streets, on boats, and in churches, bringing a joyous mood to the community. People dance, sing and have great feasts at their unique rituals and festivities including weddings and tattoo work.
The Samoan people have a very preserved tradition brought by their social structure based on the ownership of land. 80~85% of the population live in traditional villages run by chiefs, stabilising their society.
Samoa is blessed with a tropical climate and beautiful natural environment. Beaches covered by thick coral sand attract tourists and allows bountiful fishing. The Ambassador mentioned that the seawater is very warm, and so on many occasions, he has had to swim away from shore where the water is cooler. Samoa is a mountainous volcanic island, with diverse natural features. The main islands are covered in tropical rainforests, waterfalls, and streams. The environment is well preserved, as the country hosts regional environmental organizations.
Japan has contributed to Samoa’s society, building hospitals, schools and supporting with their energy resources. Japan helped build The National university of Samoa. Samoa has supported Japan’s opinions in the international conferences such as in the United Nations.
At the end of the interview, the Ambassador Dr. Kilifoti kindly commented that he wishes to continue this positive relation between Japan and Samoa. by keeping a close relations with Japan’s political and social aspect as well as the community.
The following are photos we recieved from the embassy.
(Reported by Madoka Nishina & Kate Shimizu)
Madoka Nishina 11th Saint Maur International School
Kate Shimizu 11th Seisen International School
KarenNishina 5th Saint Maur International School
Moe Oonishi 5th Saint Maur International School