WorldTeach: American Samoa Volunteer Teaching - Year

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from WorldTeach.

Video and Photos

Fish, it's whats for dinner.
My front yard
With some students on White Sunday
Tutuila Island taken by Jessica Ploen
The children will look up to you
The children will look up to you
The colorful nature of American Samoa
The colorful nature of American Samoa

About

Volunteer with WorldTeach from August to May in American Samoa (AmSam), an American territory in the Pacific. AmSam is a country of natural wonders with a culture that places great value in family, community, and religion. On all the islands of American Samoa, you will find government agencies & StarKist Tuna Cannery mainly support the local economy and yet find families who still live off the land, planting and fishing to sustain their families; it is a complex unique dichotomy which many to stay past their time of service.

Here, you serve as either a co-teacher in elementary schools teaching English, or a high school teacher teaching science, math, or social studies. WorldTeach volunteers are also encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities and community life with projects such as tutoring programs, math and science clubs, and participating in student governments.

This program is fully funded, excluding flights, by the American Samoa Department of Education.

Highlights
  • Experience island life
  • Engage in extracurricular activities and community life
  • Fully funded, excluding airfare
  • Varied housing options
  • Earn an accredited TEFL certification (optional)

Questions & Answers

Reviews

90%
based on 18 reviews
  • Benefits 9
  • Support 8.4
  • Fun 7.9
  • Facilities 8.6
  • Safety 8.6
  • Instruction 7.8
  • Support 8
  • Value 9.3
  • Academic Rigor 6
  • Job Assistance 4.5
Showing 1 - 8 of 18
Default avatar
Christine
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This AmSam Life

Overall, I had a good experience. In the beginning, the culture shock and the climate were challenging, and learning how to be a teacher took longer than I had expected, but once I became acclimated and invested myself in becoming the best teacher I could, things settled down into a manageable routine. I feel that in the end, I was a positive influence and made a difference in the lives of my students. I am still in touch with many of them today. The country director was excellent and I always felt she had my best interests in mind. The camaraderie of the volunteer cohort was good and even as a non-traditional participant, I felt welcome and involved in our group's extracurriculars.

Transportation on the island is available via busses but walking is always an option especially when the busses aren't running after 6 pm or on Sundays. Making friends on the island is essential. This is how we got the behind the scenes tours were able to catch a ride with someone when you want to go to the movie theater after 6.

As in most programs, you get out of it what you put in, so if you choose to volunteer abroad as a teacher for a year, give it your all, all the time. Don't complain about inconvenience or fairness or how unorganized things can be sometimes, simply go with the flow and keep trying to make a difference, for the children. They should be why you are there! They are what matters most!

What would you improve about this program?
I think that one improvement that would be made, would be to have more instructional information available to volunteers before arrival. Webinars or video presentations online on how to be a teacher would be helpful while we still have access to high-quality internet. Perhaps even making curriculum ideas, worksheets, etc available for download to an external hard drive, which we could then take with us to our placement would be good. One hard part was not knowing what you were going to be teaching until a few days before. I could have brought much more tailored materials with me if I had known my grade level and subjects.
Default avatar
Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A year in American Samoa

I taught 8th grade ELA for World teach for 10 months in beautiful American Samoa. I absolutely loved my year there and the opportunity I was given to travel and teach in the South Pacific. Being a teacher is hard anyways and I'm not gonna lie that it is hard to teach with little to no resources but I don't regret it because it was rewarding to watch my students learn. I would go home and mentally and physically exhausted but with a smile on my face. I would get to recharge on the weekends by lounging on untouched beaches and beautiful national park hikes. I also got to experience a completely different culture which was humbling to my first word problems in the states! We had a field director on island who helped us with literally anything we needed which was nice to have. If you are looking for a year abroad exploring the culture of the South Pacific and really making a difference with the education of the students on this island, I highly recommend using world teach!

What would you improve about this program?
More resources provided to educators or more of an allowance to the volunteers to buy things for their classroom.
Default avatar
Annika
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Good and The Bad

American Samoa is one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. The empty beaches and uninhabited mountains created such a serene and peaceful experience, it felt like my own private island. The process of training on island before being assigned to our locations allowed me to create strong bonds with my fellow volunteers in a very short time. Between the people I was able to befriend through the program and the beauty of the island, I had one of the best years of my life there. The things that were a struggle there were partly the support from our program director and the cultural issues at work. The program director we had that year seemed to brush everyone's concerns under the table and was really hard to get in contact with. The location they placed me at to teach was over a mountain from where I lived where buses didn't go regularly so I would have to stand by the side of the road, sometimes up to an hour, trying to hitch hike over the mountain to get to work in the morning (which in the torrential rain really sucked). At work I was put in charge of 7th and 8th graders which posed a challenge. The students didn't treat me very well because the saw me as an outsider and would tell me they didn't care what I had to say because i was white and a woman. That was a constant battle the entire year. I also didn't live in the very remote village so I wasn't apart of their community so I never came in contact with their parents to be able to hold the kids accountable for their behavior. The main language spoken on the island is Samoan but school is taught in English so a lot of the conversations happening in class I couldn't understand which also posed challenges. There were a number of challenges that I faced on the island but it was still the best time of my life. If you are resilient and love to connect with other people who have a passion for adventure then it is a good program to choose. If you are looking to really make a difference with children's education then this might not be the best place to do it.

What would you improve about this program?
Having a field director who followed through with the commitment to check in weekly to make sure things are going smoothly and who would take action to deal with issues.
Caitlin
Caitlin
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Mountain, Ocean, & Teaching

Teaching on the island or Tutuila, American Samoa was one of the most challenging experiences of my life, but what I learned through that year continues to shape me now, 8 years later. My backyard was a mountain, front yard the ocean. The breathtaking views were coupled with neverending heat, sunshine, and humidity. Still, people spent time together in the open spaces of the villages, at church buildings, and around tables both indoors and outdoors. Food, dancing, singing, outdoor play, and church life were components of daily life in Samoa. School was less of a priority, which created obstacles for me as a teacher. Although I still believe deeply in the significance and value of education, I now have a greater appreciation for the things of life they see as normal, which I tend to rush past or deem unnecessary. I now realize I should have taken it less personally when kids missed class for days or weeks at a time for church practice or mourning the loss of a loved one. Because it was common for meetings to start an hour or more late, I learned to take a book or work to do so that the time didn’t seem like a waste when the meeting never even happened. By the end of the year, just a month or so before we left, I had developed a better command of the language, which allowed me to integrate more fully into the community. For all the invitations we received, I wish we had taken the time to stop and eat with people and practice Samoan more and earlier in our stay. While it’s good and helpful to spend time with other Americans, the local experience is more rich when you take an interest in the local people, learning their customs and language.

What would you improve about this program?
As much as possible, I recommend hiring a Field Director who has done that specific program in that specific place prior to becoming Field Director.
Read my full story
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Maggie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteer Teaching in American Samoa with WorldTeach

I would highly recommend volunteer teaching with WorldTeach in American Samoa. I taught English and Language Arts to 2nd graders. Check out my blog that I kept during my year on the island for a more detailed description of my experience. http://maggieamericansamoa.blogspot.com/

The island, the culture, the people, the views, my students.... words really can't do it justice. I made amazing memories and friends that I will have for the rest of my life. I joined a paddling team, hiked in the only US National Park south of the equator and swam in the South Pacific Ocean every week for a 11 months. You will face many challenges but will grow and learn SO much about yourself and the Polynesian culture.

What would you improve about this program?
I'd say the only thing that would have been better was if we could become TEFL certified while teaching in AmSam. I do believe other WorldTeach programs allow you to become TEFL certified but in AmSam you do not.
Default avatar
Alexandra
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Year in paradise

I volunteered with WorldTeach in American Samoa the year after graduating from college. I taught science to high school students at Manu’a High School on the island of Ta’u, which is one of the outer islands of AmSam. It was one of the best (and most challenging) experiences of my life, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Living on an outer island with no restaurants, sporadic WiFi, and occasional boats from the outside was quite the adventure, especially when surrounded by ocean and jungle. The high school I taught at was incredibly supportive, and helped me through teaching when I did not have much experience. While some of WorldTeach’s requirements for “development” were silly and unhelpful (turning in reflections and lesson plans etc), it was very helpful to have WorldTeach at my back to deal with any issues and to be able to rely on. My advice: if you choose this program, go into it with an open mind and a lot of flexibility, and you’ll do great!

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Eric
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

WT American Samoa Alum

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
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic boss

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.

What would you improve about this program?
Tell vols about tax liability for working in US territory.