American Samoa Year
A changing culture, rising waters, and an opportunity for understanding
Departure: Early August 2019
Application Deadline: May 1, 2019
Volunteer Commitment: $500 DepositRead More
Our Year Program in American Samoa
11 Months (August – June) | Shared Volunteer Housing
Teach English, Science, Math, History
Our American Samoa program dates back to 2008 when the American Samoa Department of Education (ASDOE) enabled us to offer volunteering opportunities to teach English, math, science, and social studies on the islands. In schools, Samoan is the vernacular, but the disparity in comprehension shows in the upper grade levels where English is the language of instruction. American Samoa ranks in about the 40th percentile according to the Stanford Achievement Tests designed for Native English Language with the strong variation in the levels of English skills among students.
American Samoa, an American territory in the Pacific, is a country of natural wonders and a culture that places great value in family, community, and religion. It is also home to some stark contrasts. On the main island of Tutu’ila, you can find familiar amenities like a movie theater, smartphones, grocery stores, and even fast food. Take a plane or boat to the more remote islands of Manu’a or Aunu’u and those comforts give way to gravel roads, no restaurants, limited access to groceries, and a more rustic way of life.
On all the islands of American Samoa, government agencies or StarKist Tuna Cannery mainly support the local economy. You also still find families living off the land, planting taro, breadfruit, cucumber, papaya, and other fruits and vegetables. Many depend on fishing the ocean to feed their families. This island lifestyle on Tutu’ila converges with the many conveniences of American way of life. It is this dichotomy that makes American Samoa so splendid and unique, yet is also the reason for the complexities of adapting generations-old traditions to American governance.
You will serve as either a co-teacher in elementary schools teaching English, or a high school teacher teaching science, math, or social studies. While the ASDOE highly considers your preferences in your placement, the primary purpose of the program is to serve the local schools’ needs. Flexibility as a volunteer will take you a long way in terms of adapting to your role in the classroom.
We highly encourage you to become involved in extracurricular activities and community life, especially with the culture’s strong emphasis on building relationships. The opportunity to engage with the community outside of the classroom greatly enriches the overall experience for volunteers and students alike. In past years, volunteers have engaged in tutoring programs, started math and science clubs, participated in student governments, or coached sports teams. Numerous volunteers have prepared students for the SAT and ASVAB exams. After the tsunami in September 2009, volunteers even took an active role in the relief efforts!
Placement & Housing
You will be placed at any of the public schools in American Samoa. The majority of volunteers are placed on Tutu’ila – the biggest island in American Samoa. Volunteers are also sometimes placed in Manu’a and on Aunu’u – the smaller outer islands of the territory.
Housing accommodations vary in American Samoa. Some volunteers stay in a separate house on a local family’s communal land, while other volunteers have a separate room within the family’s house. The majority of the volunteers are placed in groups of two to three per house. Even if not in an intimate host family situation, you must recognize the importance of social life at home in Samoa.
The volunteer contribution to the American Samoa program is a $500 deposit, submitted upon confirmation into the program and returned upon successful completion. Selected candidates for participation in this program are generously funded by the Department of Education of American Samoa.
This funding goes towards:
- Living stipend of $400/month
- Comprehensive orientation, mid-service, and end of service training conferences
- 24-hour in-country field staff support
- WorldTeach’s quality teaching support
- Pre-departure preparation and visa assistance if necessary
- Supplemental overseas travel medical insurance
- Alumni services and networking
Travel to and from the program is the responsibility of the participant.
Many volunteers are able to successfully fundraise all or a significant portion of their program expenses. Please refer to our fundraising page for more information about fundraising possibilities.
Volunteers in the American Samoa program must:
- Volunteers in American Samoa are required by the Department of Education to pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam with at least the following scores for the three required subjects: Reading-156, Writing-162, Math-150 before their program start date
- Be a native-level English speaker
- Have a bachelor’s degree by the time of the program’s departure
- Be between the ages of 21 and 74
- Be highly flexible, mature, and have a genuine interest in teaching