Sharing Worlds, Changing Lives

The Samoan Youth Empowerment Initiative was founded in June of 2012 as a way to allow Samoan students a chance to develop cross-cultural awareness by traveling to the United States. The program seeks to engage the Samoan students in hands on activities and interaction with Americans with the understanding that Americans will gain just as much in terms of the sharing of cultures.

Our mission is to inspire the youth of Samoa to dream, but more importantly, to act. With a focus on sustainability, we are challenging the students to return to Samoa as bold leaders, active individuals and inspirational partners. They will reach out to share their experiences and then move to act on important issues facing their local communities, churches and families. They are the future of Samoa and we can EMPOWER them!

Monday, February 8, 2016

2016! The Tradition Continues!

It has been over three years since Milo, Neueli, and Saulo traveled to the United States for the Samoan Youth Empowerment Initiative. My dream then was that the program would continue in the years ahead and provide other students a chance to broaden their horizons and come to understand the world in a new and exciting way.

It is with great excitement to announce that the Samoan Youth Empowerment Initiative will once again bring students from the shores of Samoa to the United States of America. Matthew Redman, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from the same village as me, has been planning and organizing a very exciting program for two of his former students in Samoa. I remember the students well from my own time in Samoa, and I know that this will be an exciting and rewarding opportunity for them, their families, and the entire village.

Below I have included Matt's project proposal which explains his program in greater detail. Matt has created a page where individuals can make a donation. I invite you to take a few moments to read over the material and consider making a donation here at

On a more personal note, I can clearly remember the day when I felt God inviting me to begin the endeavor to form the initial program, and then trusting in Him that He would lead it as He wished. Through the generosity of family, friends, businesses, churches, NGO's, and yes, even strangers, the program developed into something much larger than I had ever dreamed of. And so my prayer is that this program continue to be blessed by God and change many lives.

Samoan Youth
Empowerment Initiative

Program History:
Founded in June 2012 by Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Kyle Kincaid, the Samoan Youth Empowerment Initiative was created as a way to allow Samoan students to travel to and experience the United States. Kyle selected three boys to accompany him to his home state of Michigan for one month. While in the U.S. the boys toured hospitals, met with doctors and nurses, toured potatoes sorting facilities and a farm, visited a local dentist for a teeth cleaning, toured a courthouse and met with a lawyer and judge, traveled to Chicago and toured museums and the John Hancock Building. They met with local elementary school students and gave a presentation on Samoan culture as well as met with Samoan families living in the U.S.

Kyle created a Language Proficiency Assessment of 20 questions that was given to the boys before they left. Upon their return to Samoa the boys were given a similar test based on their experiences in the U.S. Two boys improved from 40% proficiency to 70% and one boy going from 92% to 100%. With the aid of another Peace Corps Volunteer, the boys shared their experiences with the village (and even taught kids the game of baseball which they had learned from their excursion). I have had the pleasure of knowing these three boys during my Peace Corps service in Sauano and Saletele and following up on their ambitions. One boy is currently at a local college studying to become a mechanic, another is working for a local church doing video production with ambitions to become a police officer, and one boy placed first in his year 12 class at the highly reputable Pesega College in Apia. He is working towards becoming a teacher.

Mission Statement:
To provide Samoan students opportunity to not only dream, but act. By developing cross-cultural awareness with an emphasis on sustainability, the program seeks to engage Samoan students in hands on activities and interaction with Americans with the understanding that Americans will gain just as much in terms of the sharing of cultures. We challenge the students to return to Samoa as active leaders and inspirational partners in their communities, churches, and families.

2016 Project Proposal:
My name is Matthew Redman and I had the honor to follow in Kyle’s footsteps by teaching at the Sauano and Saletele Primary School as part of United States Peace Corps Samoan Rural Primary Literacy Project. I am currently employed at Tacoma Community College’s Early Learning Center. I have selected two former students of mine of to complete a one month study abroad in my hometown of Tacoma, Washington during the month of May 2016.

Filipo Tauamo and Lafoga Kirisimasi.
Samoan Youth Empowerment Initiative 2016 Participants

While in Tacoma the students will be integrate into the community with the support of the TCC Pacific Islanders Club and the Asia Pacific Cultural Center. Students will receive daily English lessons as well as accompany me to the Early Learning Center twice a week to practice their English in a real classroom setting.

Intended activities and goals include:
• Meeting local Samoans
Connects students to northwest locals who have also made the Malaga.
• Attending Samoan churches in Pierce County
View religion from an American perspective & compare to Samoa
• Volunteer in local church philanthropy
Create new ideas to take back to a small community
• Receive a dental examination
Encourage oral hygiene in rural villages
• Attend a local sporting event (i.e. Rainiers game or TCC event)
Have fun, experience American culture, study statistics.
• Tour the Tacoma Art Museum
Students keep a journal of illustrations & writing
• Museum of Glass
Inspiration for wood carving workshop
• Washington State History Museum
Reading scavenger-hunts
• Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
How can our side of the Pacific Ocean aide the environmental-health of the other?
• RDC Stables- Orting, WA
Ride, groom, and experience recreational boarding
• Fort Lewis and McChord Airforce Base
Tutuila & the American military

• Visit Mt. Rainier and the Nisqually Watershed.
Expand awareness of global-warming & practices for sustainable living.
• Tour Vashon
A very different kind of island
• Visit the Space Needle and tour Seattle
Make memories
• Attend The Cat in the Hat at Seattle Children’s Theatre
Create a short play based off a book
• Visit Pacific Science Center
Challenge the boys to think of ways Samoa could better use their resources.
• Tour the University of Washington campus
Instill the drive to seek guidance, counsel, & mutual understanding

Curricular Objective:
For the culmination of the project I’d like the students to complete a 1-2 day job shadow in the final week of study. This will provide the students real world experience to take back to Samoa and apply to their village, impending studies, and future career prospects.

• Shadow a veterinarian at Fair Isle Animal Clinic on Vashon Island.
Study ways to improve the lives of dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, and fish.

Projected Budget:
• Samoan Passports.
~100 WST x 2 people = ~200 WST = ~ $100.00 (based on flux. exchange rate)
• U.S. Student Visas.
$190x 2 people = $380.00
• Airfare.
Apia, Samoa – Sea-Tac, WA: ~$1,200 x 2 people = ~$2,400.00
• Health Insurance
$54.00 x 2 people = $108.00
• Liability Insurance
$150 x 2 people = $300
• Travel Insurance
$35 x 2 = $70
• Food
$400.00 x 2 people = $800.00
• Lodging (the students will be staying with me for one month)
Extending my lease by one month. Final rate tbd.
• Activities (anticipating donations)
• Local Transportation Costs
• Unexpected Expenditures

Total Budget Proposal: $5,458.00
March 21: Visa registration opens
April 4-8, 2016: Visa Interviews
Friday April 22, 2016: Matt returns to Samoa
Friday April 29, 2016: Filipo and Lafoga depart Samoa accompanied by Matt
Program Dates:
Saturday April 30th – Thursday June 2nd, 2016
Friday June 3rd, 2016: Lafoga, Filipo, and Matt fly to Hawai’i. Matt puts them on their flight to Faleolo, Upolu.

How to Donate:

Donations can be made online at

Fa’afetai Tele Lava! Thank you very much!