Samoa: Pacific Communities and Social Change

Educational Excursions

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

"While in Samoa, I learned important skills about living abroad, communicating with diverse populations, and conducting field research. Studying abroad in Samoa was one of the most influential, memorable, and positive decisions I have ever made."

—Dani Karnoff, University of Pittsburgh

Alofaaga blowholes in Savai'i

Excursions are an essential part of the SIT Samoa program and directly complement thematic coursework and language instruction. On excursion, students observe and examine the impacts of westernization and development on different Pacific Island communities. Themes and issues addressed during excursions include the economics of development, social change, environmental issues, and the impact of tourism. Excursions also allow students to experience the Pacific's exceptional diversity and beauty.

The weeklong excursion to Savai'i introduces students to the natural history and beauty of Samoa's largest island. During the excursion, students learn more about plate tectonics and the formation of volcanic islands and visit the most recent (1906–1911) lava flows and blow holes. Students also observe the making of siapo, traditional bark cloth. Discussions with tourists from countries around the world often reveal the limited engagement tourists have with the contemporary issues facing small island developing states.

The excursion to Savai'i includes a weekend at beach fales (traditional thatched huts), a hike across the 1906 lava flow, a visit to a volcanic crater to watch for flying foxes, a swim at Olemoe Falls, and a coastal tour that includes blow holes and sea arches.

Marketplace in Apia

American Samoa
The four-day excursion to American Samoa gives insights to contemporary economic, social, and political issues in the island territory. Issues include obesity and health-related problems resulting from the prevalence of fast food restaurants and the availability of American products as well as suicide, teenage pregnancy, drinking, and drugs. Participation in the US military is seen as an opportunity for many American Samoans.

SIT students are hosted in the homes of American Samoa Community College students with whom they also have both educational and cultural exchanges. Lectures help students understand the challenges and issues American Samoa faces and examine social and political issues, architecture and social change, and environmental challenges.

A popular component of the excursion is an indigenous art workshop in which students work with Samoan peers and use traditional art forms in new ways. The American Samoa excursion includes the breathtaking scenery of a small island whose claim to fame has been Pago Pago, one of the most beautiful and strategic harbors in the Pacific. The tuna canneries, which have played a key role in the country’s economy, have recently come under pressure in a more globalized world.

As part of the excursion, students may also visit sites in America's newest national park, a marine reserve, or a variety of archaeological sites.

Students utilize the cross-cultural skills and competencies acquired in Samoa to compare and contrast Pacific Islands. Students visit the main campus of the University of the South Pacific and hear Pacific Islanders talk about the political, ethnic, environmental, and developmental issues presently facing Fiji. A visit to the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies reveals how creative artists use traditional movements and sounds as building blocks for new forms of music and dance. The visit to Suva, one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the Pacific, pushes students to think critically about the impact of westernization and development on Pacific Island nations.

The excursion to Fiji also takes students to remote settings, including the mountain village of Abaca. A drive from Nadi to Suva takes students through Fiji's sugarcane fields and pine forests and includes stops in the bustling local town of Sigatoka. The Indo-Fijian settlement where the students are hosted by Indo-Fijian families is a short walk from the spectacular Sigatoka Sand Dunes, a well-studied Lapita pottery site whose reconstructed artifacts and numerous full skeletons are housed in the Fiji Museum, one of the best local museums in the Pacific.

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Apia

Language Study: Samoan

Prerequisites: None

View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

Connect With Us

Connect icons

888.272.7881 (toll-free in US)



Mailing Address:
PO Box 676, 1 Kipling Road
Brattleboro, VT 05302 USA

Contact us by email.