Each semester, American Samoa Community College (ASCC) instructor Mrs. Tala Ropeti-Leo gives the students in her Introduction to Psychology (PSY 150) classes the assignment of formulating a group community service project. This gives the Psychology students a better understanding of the real challenges and need in their own community. What follows here is Mrs. Ropet-Leo’s firsthand account of the community service projects her students in the three sections of PSY 150 have completed during the current spring 2023 ASCC semester.
PSY 150 (01) This is a very small class consisting only of 12 students. They decided to fundraise funds for the American Samoa Alliance Against Domestic & Sexual Violence. When Mrs. Judy Matautia and her staff were invited to come and do a talk to the class, they were not aware that they would be given a donation. They did a beautiful presentation to the class about the services the Alliance provides and the kind of research that they do. Mrs. Matautia, on behalf of her staff, thanked the class and encouraged them to visit the Alliance for more information on how they help raise awareness for the community.
PSY 150 (02) is the biggest class I have this semester, and we did something different. We not only fundraised but we also painted and created artwork, an activity we called the Heart for Art Project, for the Christopher James Foeoletini Ledoux Foundation, whose mission is to raise awareness about drug and alcohol abuse in American Samoa. My talented art student Sialei Tuitasi took leadership in this project where she guided the students on how to paint, carve, and do other forms of art. Working on the project itself was therapeutic for my class and I. The students and I presented the artwork to Mrs. Trude Sunia, the founder of the Foeoletini Foundation, who expressed her gratitude and said she found the donation “beautiful and heartwarming”. The class and I would like to mention of the $500 contribution and other assistance we received from The Tool Shop to help us purchase canvases as well as painting and carving materials. The students fundraised on their own, but given the cost of the materials, the much appreciated assistance of The Tool Shop was essential in bring the project to fruition.
PSY 150 (03) is also a small class, and the students donated gift baskets to the Matafao Elementary School Special Education classroom. Since March is designated as the month to celebrate individuals with disabilities, the class felt that it would be fitting to provide assistance to the children receiving Special Education instruction at Matafao Elementary. The gift baskets were made up of school supplies as well as sensory toys such as puzzles. When we arrived with our donation, this caused so much excitement among the Special Education class that even before the gifts had been formally presented, the students were already trying to open them. The gifts were accepted by instructor Mr. Mu Apelu. The happiness of the Matafao students made the ASCC students happy in return.
My students and I would like to thank everyone who has helped us with this semester’s community service projects. These projects are not just essential parts of the Psychology course, they excite the students and enable them to acquire life skills and knowledge by providing a service to those who need it most. Having regularly facilitated such projects over the years, It makes me happy when some of my students end up being employed by the organizations that we donate to. These projects have become avenues for my students to explore areas of interest, as well as inform their decisions in making their career choices.
For more information on ASCC, visit www.amsamoa.edu.