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Stanford University’s Samoan language program is flourishing


Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The two Stanford University students — Brandy Atuatasi and Ari Patu —  who played a huge role in assuring the Samoan language is being taught at the Palo Alto, California University — are now seeing the fruit of their labors. 

(Read story about the beginning of their project in the January 23, 2023 issue of Samoa News.)

After months of dedication and collaboration with Stanford's Language Center and Professor Chris Young, their efforts bore fruit. In January 2023, the Samoan Language class was officially launched, thanks to their pursuit of cultural preservation.

Under the guidance of Professor Chris Young and his mother, Tali'ilagi Young, the introductory Samoan Language class attracted 18 students from diverse backgrounds, including both Polynesian and Non-Polynesian students. The first year of the program featured inspiring guest speakers, including Troy Polamalu, Tennelle, Jane Schwalger-Wyatt, Galumalemana Afeleti Hunkin, and more, enriching the students' understanding of Samoan language and culture.

Currently, the students are in the initial stages of establishing a mainland program aimed at providing younger generations with access to Samoan Language education. Brandy believes that accessibility and exposure are key to preserving and celebrating the beauty of Samoan culture.

According to the school’s website, Samoan language courses focus on speaking, writing, reading, and listening abilities in Samoan.

 “An interactive approach enables students to express concepts and develop communicative competence at the basic level. Cultural context is an essential part of the course. This is the last sequence that fulfills the language requirement.”

When Governor Lemanu P.S. Mauga had the opportunity to meet with Ms Atuatasi last week Thursday, he expressed his admiration for her dedication to preserving the Samoan language and culture. He presented her with gifts of appreciation, symbolizing her contributions and also encouraged her to meet with the Samoan Language Commissioner Peseta Tia Seloti, who will soon return from attending the Samoan Language Week in Samoa.

Atuatasi was born and raised in San Diego, California. Her mother is of Caucasian descent, and her father hails from the villages of Fagasa and Fagamalo in American Samoa.

As a student-athlete on Stanford University's Women's Track and Field team, Brandy participates in shot-put and discus.

Patu is the son of Saul and Alana Patu and grew up in Folsom, CA.  He is a junior quarterback for the Stanford Cardinals and is on the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award Watch List.