“TOFA MAI FELENI” — A FOND FAREWELL TO UH-TTTAP


Mene Tauaa bids “Tofa mai Feleni” to UH-TTTAP [Courtesy photo]

Dear Editor,

“Tofa mai Feleni,” (Goodbye my Friend) composed by Mr. Faatui Fuimaono from Apia for his American soldier friends when they departed for the states is a song we used to sing during our aiavas, Samoan gifting customs to bid farewell to our University of Hawaii, Manoa faculty for the shared knowledge they instilled in our teachers. We sang it with appreciation and gratitude for the experiences our teachers gained and readied to pass on to their own students in their classrooms. A song about lasting friendships that positively affected their educational endeavors.

As the door closes on my last days as an employee of the University of Hawaii Territorial Teacher Training Assistance Program, I thought of this song as I reflected back to my experiences with this program.

My professional development experience with UH began in 1997 as a cohort pupil and later a faculty in 2004. I became a knowledgeable, effective, and caring teacher. I met professors and administrators who were passionate about developing better teachers for American Samoa. During the College of Education orientations I attended, American Samoa was always highlighted as one of UH Manoa’s successful entity for teacher training. That was something I was always proud of when attending these meetings.

I am proud of my education from this program because it raised my teaching career to levels beyond my expectations. I was the 2004 Territorial Teacher of the Year, attended educational conferences in places like Las Vegas, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C to name a few, presented at a disability conference in Hawai’i and Pohnpei, became a grant writer for Alofau Elementary School for a parental involvement, science curriculum, and art in education grants, worked on UH campus and spoke to future teachers, observed Hawaii classrooms and collaborated with teachers on teaching strategies, and coordinator for an elementary, first ECE, and the first Manu’a cohorts. These advancements became possible due to the work of caring people.

I wish for this program to continue because of the many advances it can produce for our teachers. Many moved on to higher positions in the department while others as Territorial Teachers of the Year. American Samoa Department of Education benefits from this program because teachers who attended the program show dispositions in learner development, learning differences, learning environments, application of content, instructional strategies, professional learning and ethical practice, and leadership and collaboration.

The decision by Dr. Ruth Matagi to have teachers take remaining courses with ASCC brought devastating news to current students of UHTTTAP.  It weighed heavily mostly on Manu’a teachers because they were two courses away from receiving their bachelor in elementary education degree from UH. Attempts to reach out to government leaders and the director to make this wish come true were unsuccessful.

One of the best decisions our leaders made was to educate its teachers. The UHTTTAP provided that opportunity to carry out that dream. My work with cohort students in this program demonstrated growth in effective teaching and learning. This made me comfortable that our education system is in good hands.      

It is time to bid UH farewell, but I would like to encourage students of UHTTTAP to continue making differences in the lives of American Samoa students.  

Your education from this program will never go unrecognized. Know that there are people who are working hard to make your dreams come true. Let us keep “HOPE” alive. Like Michelle Obama stated, “Hope is the belief that something better is always possible if you are willing to work for it and fight for it.”

Tofa mai feleni, o le a ou tea,

Ae folau i le vasa, le alii e pule i meleke

Nei galo mai Apia, si o ta eleele

Ae manatua mai pea, le au pasese

 

Oh I never will forget you,

Samoa e nei galo atu

Oh I never will forget you,

Samoa e nei galo atu.

 

Goodbye my friends, I am going to leave,

And sail the ocean, the one to America,

But never forget Apia, our home

And always remember those who stay behind.

 

Oh I never will forget you,

Samoa will always be remembered,

Oh I never will forget you,

Samoa will always be remembered.

(“Tofa mai Feleni” by Faatui Fuimaono)

 

Tofa Soifua,

Mene Tauaa

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