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Defining what is practical for Samoa based on lessons learned from an overseas experience should be clearly applied.

These include opportunities for research and transferring that knowledge into an institution based curriculum.

This was the experience of a Tourism lecturer from the National University of Samoa (NUS) who attended a five-week Pacific Islands Fellows Program (PIF) in Hawaii recently.

Mrs Lenara Tuipoloa-Utuva, who is also a researcher in the Tourism discipline has been able to capture the amazing tourism initiatives at this program and already looking forward to transferring that knowledge to the current Tourism curriculum.

Mrs Utuva’s selection at this fellowship had provided her with the knowledge, skills and attributes on farm-to-table initiatives that could become an ideal project for Samoa’s tourism development.

“Hawaii is beautiful and is one of the well-known tourist destinations. It has various fresh produce farms that makes the difference in the tastes of Hawaii,” said Mrs Utuva.  “This is something I wanted to understand more about so I can work on transferring that into our own Samoa tourism industry, because we have great potential for it.”

Following a competitive process of selecting applicants from the Pacific region, Mrs Utuva succeeded as the sole local representative.

“The organisers placed us in work placements as interns for the duration of five weeks, according to the interests that we identified in our applications. We are supposed to learn from these internships and further build professional networks.”

The group is the first of the Pacific Islands Tourism Fellows Program as part of the Pacific Islands Development Program which East-West Centre administrates.

“The main objective was really to create a space for tourism fellows to work on their ideas towards sustainable tourism in their own islands by looking at what is in Hawaii mainly through internships. Similar to our exchange programs at NUS. I think not only have I gained insight on farm-to-table and how practical it can be, but that insight also contributes to the development and support for our courses here at NUS - it is a research opportunity,” added Mrs Utuva.

Caption : Pacific Islands participants at the Pacific Islands Tourism Fellows Program

Caption: Mrs Utuva (left) at the Ma'o Farm, Hawaii

As the sole representative from Samoa at the program, Mrs Utuva is determined that by integrating new ideas into the current curriculum and sharing it with the young people would assist in Samoa’s cause for sustainable foods and produce initiatives.


The program brought two cohorts of tourism industry professionals from the Pacific Islands to Honolulu, Hawai‘i that builds significant new capacity and facilitate enduring professional bonds between industry leaders in the United States and the Pacific Islands.

Professional Fellows were chosen through an open competition with ideas for an applied project or business problem that bears directly on tourism growth in their home country. Rigorously curated placements, with a close pairing of each Fellow’s project objectives to the Designated Placement Host, will offer Professional Fellows fresh insights, new analytical perspectives, and practical approaches for building nascent island tourism sectors. Supplemental educational and cultural enrichment activities will ensure Fellows acquire substantive leadership skills as well as a deeper appreciation of American society.


From the very beginning, the East-West Centre has maintained special interest and expertise in the Pacific Islands. Many of the earliest students who received their education through East-West Centre fellowships were from the region, especially the then-Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and shortly after the founding of the world-renowned Polynesian Voyaging Society it was supported by a special Centre program. In 1980, under the visionary leadership of Fiji Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and Hawaii Governor George Ariyoshi a special Centre program was formed to specifically address the unique issues faced by island nations emerging from decades of colonization.

Today the Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP) conducts a broad range of activities to enhance the quality of life in the Pacific islands. The founding mission of PIDP is to assist Pacific Islands leaders in advancing their collective efforts to achieve and sustain equitable social and economic development. Since 1980 PIDP has served as a forum through which island leaders discuss critical issues of development with interested countries, donors, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector. On four occasions the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders has met with the President of the United States in Honolulu.

PIDP's role as a regional organization includes the following major activity areas:

As PIDP was formed at the specific request of the region’s island leaders, it is the only East-West Center program whose activities have a defined geographic focus informed by both the area studies and disciplinary expertise of its staff and participants.

PIDP is excited to be working in close cooperation with the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs on this program and welcomes the involvement of its partner institutions including the South Pacific Tourism Organisation and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa's Schidler College of Business and Pacific Business Center Program.




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