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American Samoa, or AmSam for short, is an unincorporated U.S. territory, just like Puerto Rico. Home to volcanic mountains and rain forests, as well as deep water harbors, the natural beauty of AmSam is undeniable. Teachers will get a taste of Samoan culture and celebrations, including the kava ceremony, the drinking of a plant-based drink at special events. Even though English is the official language of AmSam, Samoan is widely used and most locals prefer to speak it. Even so, there is demand on the islands for teachers of all subjects. Explore the natural sites as you help teach and inspire a new generation of American Samoan students and thinkers!
Volunteer programs, like WorldTeach, are in partnership with Department of Education of American Samoa. Volunteer instructors teach an array of subjects, such as English, math, sciences, or business courses. Additionally, upon arrival, many volunteers can choose to do after-school tutoring, clubs management, or SAT prep.
Private, international schools, such as Pacific Horizons School, offer K-12 instruction in English. With curricula modeled after the American system, international schools encourage their students to excel in order to pursue a college education abroad.
Peak hiring occurs in the springtime. Job placements may be on one of 5 volcanic islands or 2 remote atolls. Tutuila is the largest and most populated island. However, there are still many teaching opportunities on other islands, such as Aunu'u and Ta'u.
Applicants need to be native English speakers and hold a bachelor's degree. Volunteers do not need TEFL certification. Although, teachers, applying for a job at an international school, need TEFL/TESOL certification.
Volunteers and teachers often receive accommodations or can be placed in a homestay. It is not uncommon that volunteers receive a monthly stipend of around $400; this should cover food and basic amenities. Eat locally and you will save money; imported goods are expensive.
Staff meetings are sometimes held in Samoan. Even though many people are able to speak English, they feel more comfortable speaking in their native language. In addition, it may be helpful to learn some basic Samoan phrases or directions to use in the classroom. If you live on a more remote island, it is also useful to know some everyday phrases.
Most students wear uniforms. Teachers typically dress casually, or in island fashion. It is necessary that women wear long skirts or muumuus and do not wear thin spaghetti straps. Men should wear long pants.
Most people living on American Samoa are very religious and practice Christianity. Be respectful of religious beliefs and practices. Everyday, there is a period of prayer, sa, from about 6:15 to 6:45 PM. On Sundays, all activities are suspended and families congregate after services to eat a large meal together. It is looked down upon to be out and about on Sundays (i.e. hiking, swimming, outdoor activities, etc.).
Teachers will run into a few challenges while living and working on AmSam, including language barriers and a feeling of being an "outsider" in a tight-knit community. However, the locals, both adults and students, are willing to learn and although it may take time, welcome you into their villages and neighborhoods. Apart from the obvious natural perks of living in AmSam, as a teacher, you will find rewards in helping students work towards a better future. With a solid education and improved English skills, they will be strong applicants in the pools for international universities and careers.
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