Samoan Studies Institute rep attends Hawai'i workshop

Photo Credit: 
J. Kneubuhl
ASCC Samoan Studies Institute department chairperson Mr. Evile Feleti (front, center) with students of SSI.

(PAGO PAGO--THURSDAY, MARCH 10, 2016)--Mr. Evile Feleti, an instructor with the Samoan Studies Institute (SSI) at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC), recently returned from Hawaii, where he participated in a workshop that focused on Pacific educators.

“It’s been an ongoing struggle to establish the Pacific as a realm study in and of itself, and one big challenge with Pacific Studies today is finding the ‘corrective voices’ to literature and histories of the Pacific that only reflect the Eurocentric perspective,” said SSI Director Mrs. Okenaisa Fauolo-Manila.

“Teaching Oceania: An International Workshop to Address Gaps in Undergraduate Resources for Instructors of Pacific Island Studies,” co-sponsored by the UH Manoa Center for Pacific Island Studies (CPIS), Kapiolani Community College (KCC) and Brigham Young University-Hawaii (BYU).

During the workshop, Mr. Feleti collaborated with peers from across the Pacific region to produce interdisciplinary curriculum units for undergraduate courses in Pacific Studies focused on five areas where appropriate-level resources are sometimes hard to identify.

As an academic discipline relatively new to many American colleges and universities, Pacific Studies instructors can have difficulty finding appropriate teaching materials.

Often a mix of scholarly sources and popular media, course literature and visual resources rarely come with teaching guides or intended learning outcomes.

In response to this challenge, the Teaching Oceania participants worked to develop teaching modules on five themes: Islands and Islanders; Colonialism and Decolonization; Nuclear Testing/Militarism; Gender; and Arts and Literature of Oceania. The resulting modules will comprise a forthcoming “epub” or “iBook,” in other words a digital publication that instructors or anyone can easily access online.

CPIS Director Dr. Terence Wesley-Smith welcomed the workshop participants on the first day at KCC, followed by a cultural welcoming provided by KCC Pacific Studies employees.

Over the course of two days, the collaborators began assembling their individual topic summaries prepared prior to the Hawaii meeting to formulate the contents of the iBook.

“We spent many hours working in groups to discuss, negotiate and carefully analyze each member’s perspectives on the selected topics,” recalled Mr. Feleti. “We also worked on solidifying Student Learning Outcomes for our chapters, as well as drafting introduction and conclusion sections.

Pacific Studies authorities working alongside Mr. Feleti included Dr. Delihna Ehmes M. (Chair of the Social Science Division at the College of Micronesia); Dr. Tevita Ka’ili (Chair of International Cultural Studies and World Languages at BYU Hawaii); Dr. James Viernes (Assistant Professor of Chamorro and History at Guam University); Dr. Greg Dvorag (Associate Professor of Pacific and Asian cultural studies and History in Tokyo at Hitotsubashi University); and Dr. Teresia Teaiwa (Senior Lecturer and Postgraduate Coordinator in the Pacific Studies Program in Va’aomanū Pasifika at Victoria University at Wellington).

Mr. Feleti, who in addition to serving as SSI department chairman, also teaches Pacific History (HIS 162) as an adjunct faculty for the Social Science Department, said his developing the latter course from the best possible resources stimulated his interest in the Teaching Oceania project.