Volunteer Teaching in American Samoa with WorldTeach
88% Rating
(12 Reviews)

Volunteer Teaching in American Samoa with WorldTeach

The Department of Education of American Samoa works with WorldTeach to send volunteer teachers to American Samoa to teach English, and sometimes Math and Science, in local elementary and high schools. In school, English is spoken but most students will speak to each other in the vernacular Samoan. WorldTeach volunteers in American Samoa are also encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities and community life with projects such as tutoring programs, started math and science clubs, and participated in student governments.

This program is funded by the American Samoa Department of Education.

With our year-long program, you can also become TEFL certified to earn credibility and give you an edge in the ESL teaching job market. While certification usually costs about $1,899, with WorldTeach you can become certified for only $350 while also gaining priceless in-country teaching experience.

Locations
Oceania » American Samoa
Teaching Practicum
No
Training Type
Classroom
Training Length
120hours
Job Placement
No
Accommodation
Apartment
Host Family
Starting Price
$0.00
Currency
USD

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Benefits
    90%
  • Support
    84%
  • Fun
    79%
  • Facilities
    86%
  • Safety
    86%

Program Reviews (12)

Default avatar
Eric
Male
32 years old
Midwest
Other

WT American Samoa Alum

10/10

The year I spent with WorldTeach American Samoa is one I will remember and cherish forever. It is very difficult work and patience is a must, so be sure you are ready to commit if you choose to go. I felt that the field support was adequate for my needs but I must stress that you must be flexible and patient as some issues are in the hands of the local administrators and not world teach. To get the most out of your experience you need to dedicate yourself to teaching your kids the best you can and also be sure to get yourself out into the community and participate in local happenings.

Default avatar
Bryan
Male
24 years old
United States
Baker University

Fantastic boss

10/10

Our program director was the best in the business. When you talk professionalism you must be using her as a prime example of everything that should be done. Groceries shipped 7 hours across the sea from a boat that departs at 2am, don't even worry, she will buy them, pack them and load them for you.

WorldTeach is an idealistic organization, sometimes to a fault, but with employees like our field director you can rest assured your disillusionment will not get the best of you.

How can this program be improved?

Tell vols about tax liability for working in US territory.

Default avatar
Colin
Other

ISLAND IN THE SUN

10/10

My time in American Samoa was nothing short of breath-taking. The natural beauty of the island is the first thing you notice. My placement was on the island of Ta'u, one of the most remote locations that WorldTeach offers. My time was spent exploring the tropical jungle, snorkeling on pristine beaches, and teaching the most entertaining and creative kids on Earth! I recommend this program in American Samoa to anyone who is looking to truly escape and still have a great supportive staff to see them through the difficulties of any Teach Abroad program. WorldTeach truly is out to make a difference in the World, and there's nowhere on Earth like American Samoa!

How can this program be improved?

I would recommend that the supportive staff at WorldTeach be more understanding of the remoteness of the Manu'a island placement. Transportation is a huge issue to anyone interested in this placement and sometimes the boat and plane don't run for weeks on end.

Matthew
Male

Livin' the Dream: WorldTeach American Samoa Ofu Island

10/10

Waking up and walking to school may sound like a horrible way to start your day but it was one of the things I looked forward to when the island ran out of gas. When you watch movies of tropical islands and think "that's not real, it's too awesome", well, that was my life. For a year I lived on one of the most pristine beaches and reefs in the world. I was a volunteer teacher through WorldTeach at Olosega Elementary School. The walk each morning followed the coastline where I watched the tides roll over the tops of the reef and small white tip sharks swimming to catch their breakfast. The giant fruit bats eating from the papaya trees would all fly away from the road once they heard the group of local students and teachers walking, singing, and playing towards the school. There was such joy each day. Even in the rain there was something amazing to see. When the sea turtles would beach to lay their eggs, or the little turtles would breach the nest to scoot towards the water we always stopped to watch. Time was irrelevant, the experience was the key. I learned to enjoy the moment, to not have a plan, and to just flow like a river. When the whales would migrate through we would all stop to watch in amazement. The local community still looked at all of these things like it was their first time. They celebrated it and once I became part of the community, I was able to celebrate with them. The walks to school is where I became not just a palagi, but a part of the Ofu Village. I made friends and had experiences that would impact my life profoundly, just by being there. Once I'd get to school my work would start. No one says that teaching is easy, but no one ever told me it could be such a wonderful adventure. Just google Ofu Beach and look at the smiles on peoples faces, the joy that comes from living the dream. I carry these lessons with me today. On the subway or in traffic I think about the waves, the whales, and the crystal clear ocean.

How can this program be improved?

I wish I would have taken the language preparation more seriously because it would have made it easier to establish myself in the beginning. While most people do know English it helps to know a little Samoan to bridge the gap from just being another palagi to being a friend.

Default avatar
Jessica
Female
32 years old
United States
Creighton University

The difference between an adventure and an ordeal is attitude!

9/10

Day to day my life in American Samoa was simple, breathtaking, dirty, loving, humid, bright, and happy. Teaching taught me a lot. It ended up being very rewarding. The people on the island are so generous! The laid-back island life comes with its ups and downs, but as with all things, it is what you make of it! I chose to make it an adventure. Go for it!

How can this program be improved?

I really wish the program would have covered utilities and picked better landlords. It was not clear in the pre-departure material that they wouldn't cover utilities, and the rules with it kept changing. The American Samoa DOE seems to have the money to pay WorldTeach a lot more. They aren't using the money appropriately. I wish WorldTeeach would have put more pressure on the DOE to cover more costs so that us volunteers weren't so stressed about finances and felt taken care of.

Default avatar
Jessica
Female
24 years old
Syracuse, NE
Morningside College

Experience is what you make it

9/10

Sure a few bumps along the way, but I am so glad I took this opportunity when I did. I learned so much as well as my students, local community, and friends back home. If you are someone who wants to do some international service, are adventurous, and can roll with the punches, this may be a great opportunity for you. It can be hard work, but you have to enjoy yourself along the way.

How can this program be improved?

Having access to more teaching resources could be helpful.

Response from WorldTeach

Thank you Jessica for taking the time to write this review and address the important issue of teaching resources.

Our Department of Education creates a curriculum designed to work in accordance with the local standards of each country where we teach, and within each school setting and student age. These are reviewed during Orientation, and provided to each volunteer. Additionally, our Teacher Quality Program ensures that each volunteer is assigned to a Coordinator who is located in the US office. This Coordinator is a current student pursuing their Masters in Education, with prior international teaching experience. The Coordinator is responsible for communicating with the volunteer to review monthly lesson plans, answer questions, address classroom concerns, and provide additional resources for specific lesson plans or topics. The coordinator is also available for Skype sessions to speak with the volunteer.

Thank you again for your review.

Default avatar
Diana
Female
32 years old
American Samoa
Wright State University

For Independent Volunteers

9/10

WorldTeach has been a wonderful program for me, an elementary teacher by trade. Teaching lower elementary is challenging here in American Samoa. There is a cultural belief that real learning doesn't take place until students are teens. There is a language barrier and cultural classroom expectations are very different from the United States. However, the elementary schools are in dire need of native English speakers and conscientious teachers. Volunteers must be ready for serious challenges. Consequently, American Samoa is one place where volunteers really make a difference in the education of local children. I believe elementary placements are best for certified teachers, or for volunteers with classroom experience. Volunteers who have never worked with groups of young children do not tend to do well. It's a great fit for new graduates, fresh from student teaching. It's a great way to gain experience in your own classroom.

How can this program be improved?

WorldTeach expects volunteers to be fairly independent once placed. This program is a good fit for self-motivated individuals. WorldTeach is supportive, but they will not hold your hand through every difficulty. The local principals are difficult to work with, and WorldTeach expects you to deal with quite a lot on your own.

Default avatar
WorldTeach
Female
24 years old
United States
Other

Giving Your All

7/10

Volunteering in American Samoa leads to many challenging and rewarding experiences. The school environment is a difficult one, and the culture incredibly unique. Students tend to not be as engaged, as hard-working, nor as well-behaved as a teacher would expect from a typical class, but the amount of energy, encouragement, and dedication a teacher gives can lead to significant improvement and enjoyment of teaching here.

WorldTeach as an organization provided a positive experience. My field director went above and beyond to support and assist the volunteers. I felt well-informed of their expectations and guidelines, and comfortable asking questions and seeking help both in and outside the classroom. I would recommend this program to anyone who is interested in stepping outside their comfort zone and expanding their global perspective.

Default avatar
WorldTeach
Female
24 years old
USA
Other

Don't Trust WorldTeach

2/10

I had a great year as a classroom teacher in American Samoa. However, dealing with WorldTeach was expensive and exhausting.

Here is my experience with WorldTeach:

Housing: WorldTeach set-up unsafe and unsanitary housing. The landlord entered without permission, yelled at us for having friends over and exercising, and there was black mold. There was also only a mini-fridge and a hot plate for three adults. It was a 35-45 minute bus ride to school. I was relocated after six months, but only after extensive discussions with WorldTeach. This housing placement was previously used by WorldTeach.

Airfare: Round-trip airfare does not mean a fully paid ticket to and from America. I had to pay extra money to return to the departure city because there was a fare increase between when WorldTeach purchased the tickets and when my service with WorldTeach ended.

Teaching Placement: My school informed me they wanted to provide a co-teacher in my classroom. WorldTeach said I should welcome this and enjoy the cultural experience of having a local co-teacher.

Other Money Issues/ Invasion of Privacy: WorldTeach feels they have a right to know where you are at all times. If you miss school, they will use this to reduce your monthly living stipend and not return your deposit. Given this situation, most volunteers avoid contact with WorldTeach. WorldTeach also does some very interesting math on their monthly stipends, especially the last one. Watch-out and be prepared to fight for money they owe you.

I had a great experience in American Samoa, and I hope I don’t deter anyone from volunteering or coming to this exciting region. I recommend that If you are interested in coming to American Samoa contact the American Samoa Department of Education directly for a position. There is a teacher shortage and both private and public schools hire throughout the year.

Response from WorldTeach

Thank you for your open and direct feedback about your experience in American Samoa. We are glad to hear that you had a great year as a classroom teacher.

However, we sincerely regret that we failed in appropriately supporting you. After nearly 27 years of recruiting, placing, and supporting volunteers, we are acutely aware that volunteers are most successful when they receive open, attentive and caring support from our staff. We endeavor for that to be the experience of each volunteer so we welcome proactive suggestions from the field to continuously improve what we do.

In response to the feedback we've received, we have changed our pre-departure literature for every single one of our programs to more accurately outline the costs that volunteers should expect to incur as they prepare for their departure as well as while they are in-country. We have made the language about the flight terms clearer and we have booked one way tickets to American Samoa this year. This allows us to book and pay for one way return tickets so that volunteers don't have to bear the burden of paying for the difference in airfare from a round-trip ticket.

We take safety seriously which is why we expect to know the whereabouts of our volunteers so that we can get in contact with them in the case of an emergency. We also expect volunteers to treat their positions as they would any other job, and to approach it with the same degree of commitment and professionalism. Teacher absenteeism is a challenge in the American Samoan school system and we envision WorldTeach volunteers as part of a solution in that regard. We're sorry if our oversight came off as 'big brother-ish' - our intent was accountability, not draconian supervision.

After the issue with the last stipend was brought to our attention, we quickly rectified our mistake and issued a refund to every single volunteer.

As you mention, the region is most certainly an exciting one to volunteer and live in and its students are in need of dedicated teachers. Please feel free to reach out to us in the head office (info@worldteach.org) to continue the dialogue about how we can better serve our volunteers and ensure positive experiences for future cohorts.

Default avatar
garnet58
Female
32 years old
Ofu, American Samoa
Liverpool John Moores University

Volunteering in Paradise

9/10

My roommate and I lived on Ofu Island, accessible only by boat or private plane. We lived in one of the nicest houses in the village and were immediately welcomed into the community. Teaching the children was tough--the school schedule was often inconsistent and the children have a lot of attitude, but helping my students achieve their goals and compete in national competitions was an incredibly fulfilling experience. WorldTeach was an excellent support through the entire year--our Field Director was always around to help when we needed it. The American Samoa program is fully funded, so airfare and all official travel is covered.

Living on a remote island is hard but the lifestyle is so laid-back that it's definitely worth it. If you're looking for an island adventure this is certainly the way to go.

Default avatar
Cat
Female
32 years old
Faleasao, Ta'u, American Samoa
Institute of Historical Research

WorldTeach - Manu'a Tele, American Samoa (outer-island life)

10/10

My year as a WorldTeach volunteer on the small island of Ta'u has been incredible. I taught eight second-grade students at Faleasao Elementary. My students were incredibly well-behaved and such a pleasure to teach. Many elementary students do not speak English beyond a basic, intro level, and are very much behind in other subjects. Words cannot express how incredible it was, as a first year teacher, to see improvements in my students' skills. I was able not only to teach foundational knowledge (reading, addition and subtraction, etc) to my class, but also to begin preparing them for their educational careers (how to be a student--how to study, how to ask questions about a text, etc.) It was difficult at times, but teaching here has been one of the most important things I've ever done.
The schools in American Samoa are under the American Department of Education, and due to the small enrollment at outer-island schools, elementary resources were abundant. We had up-to-date text books for most subjects, new computers and other technological resources, and regular professional development training from the Department of Education.
We lived in a small village, in one of the nicest houses on island, about 30 yards from the ocean. There is no night-life to speak of on Ta'u, but we were surrounded by beautiful beaches, lush vegetation, and a welcoming community of Samoans. We had every opportunity to learn traditional cultural practices--spear fishing, baking in an umu, weaving, Samoan dances (siva Samoa), and speaking the Samoan language. As far as safety goes, there is very little crime on our island (some teenagers broke into a store once but that's all that's happened in 11 months), and there is a tsunami warning system and evacuation procedure in place. I never felt unsafe here. The community is incredibly welcoming.
While is much harder to get certain basic items on an outer-island, the WorldTeach field director was always available to ship whatever resources (either classroom or personal) that we needed. We had extensive cultural and classroom training during orientation, and knew that our Field Director was just a phone call away. I never felt unsafe, unprotected, or alone in the program. Every effort is taken by WorldTeach to ensure that all volunteers are given the information and help they need on island; I can't tell you how wonderful it is to have the support of field staff while living in a new country.
I would recommend this program to anyone who cares about global education and wants to travel with a purpose. WorldTeach is a wonderful organization, and American Samoa is an incredible place to live. I've enjoyed living here so much that I've decided to stay on as a contracted teacher.

Default avatar
Quinn
Female
24 years old
Leone, American Samoa
Other

Life as a teacher on the tiny island of AmSam

10/10

I am a current WorldTeach volunteer in American Samoa. I teach English to 105 high school juniors and let me tell you - each and every day is a new, exciting, and challenging adventure. Upon arriving in AmSam, I was nervous to start teaching and to become part of the Samoan community. Now that I have lived here for almost three months, I feel as if I have been here for many years. While the island is extremely small, I always know someone wherever I go and the Samoans are always quick to help or even just say hi. The WorldTeach program has been incredible. Our Field Director and the home office keep in contact with the volunteers and make sure that we are comfortable and happy with our teaching placements and with our living arrangements. No question goes unanswered and there is always someone to talk too if we need to ask for teaching tips or resources! Besides teaching, American Samoa has a lot to offer. I have already climbed mountains, snorkled in turquoise blue water, eaten delicious food from the Samoan umu (the underground oven where they cook their food), and met many friends that I will keep for the rest of my life. What better way to spend a year of your life than on a tropical island in the South Pacific? You won't regret it!

About The Provider

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WorldTeach was founded in 1986 by a group of Harvard students who were motivated by the desire to promote local education initiatives in places where teachers and resources were lacking. Today, we continue to provide opportunities for individuals to serve as volunteer teachers around the

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