American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States and consists of five main islands and two atolls in the South Pacific Ocean. European explorers discovered the Samoan archipelago, which include American Samoa and Independent Samoa, in the 18th century, but the islands have been inhabited for more than 3000 years and traditional Samoan culture is respected and observed today. Religion, especially Christianity, is also important to a large portion of the Samoan population, and visitors should be respectful of both religious and traditional practices when living and traveling throughout the country.
Historical Sites & Tourist Attractions
Add some local history to your cultural exchange experience by visiting a nearby historical site or tourist attraction when living and working in the U.S. and its territories.
Take a self-guided walking tour in the Naval Station Tutuila Historic District and former headquarters of the U.S. Naval Base.
Visit the Feleti Barstow Public Library in Pago Pago from Monday to Saturday to see the Pacific Collection Room, which includes information and research materials on Samoan history. The library also hosts events and classes.
Rose Atoll is a National Wildlife Refuge and the southernmost point in the United States and its territories. Read more information about similar activities on the Outdoor Activities page.
Opened in 2012, the Tauese P. F. Sunia Ocean Center near the Port Authority Warf in Utulei teaches visitors about natural and cultural resources with exhibits and interactive tools.
Arts & Culture
The United States offers a wide variety of cultural learning opportunities through the arts. Dance, music, theater, opera, art museums and festivals are just some of the options available to international visitors who wish to learn more about the U.S. and its culture.
The culture of Samoa is believed to be the oldest culture in Polynesia. The traits of Samoan culture are called Fa’a Samoa (fah-ah-SAH-mo-ah), and include an emphasis on family hierarchies, the extended family (aiga), Christianity and respecting elders.
It is also important to note that revealing clothing should not be worn in American Samoa. Bathing suits may be worn on the beach, but men and women should cover themselves and wear modest clothing at all times when they are away from the beach, especially in rural villages.
Learn about Samoan culture with the Homestay Program from the National Park of American Samoa. The Homestay Program allows visitors to experience Samoan culture by staying with a local host family and participating in traditional activities and cultural experiences. Visitors must arrange the homestay on their own, but the park does provide program contact information.
The Jean P. Haydon Museum in Pago Pago displays artifacts, books and official collections on Samoan history and culture. The museum also hosts local exhibitions throughout the year.
Sports & Recreation
Get a glimpse into a part of American culture by watching or participating in a favorite U.S. sport or recreational activity in your local area.
Kilikiti, a form of the sport cricket, originated in Samoa and has now spread throughout the Polynesian region. Samoa also has an international cricket team and national men’s and women’s teams.
American football is becoming a popular sport on the islands, and there are currently almost 30 professional American football players from American Samoa or of Samoan descent in the NFL and hundreds more playing in top colleges.
The American Samoa national rugby league team competes internationally in the Pacific Cup and other tournaments. The American Samoa national rugby union team is part of the International Rugby Board but haven’t yet participated in the Rugby World Cup.
Australian rules football and a version of the sport known as Samoa Rules are both played throughout Samoa. The national team competed in the Australian Football International Cup in 2005.
The United States is home to a variety of landscapes and climates to suit all types of outdoor activities. The courageous traveler can find extreme sports and outdoor adventure tours, while others may want to keep both feet on the ground in a national park or forest. Whatever your interests, take advantage of the many outdoor activities available during your time in the United States.
The National Park of American Samoa helps protect the national environment in Samoa and allows visitors to see beaches, rainforests, cliffs, coral reefs and mountains on its 10,000 acres of land. Outdoor activities at the park include snorkeling and scuba diving, swimming, and hiking.
The Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects marine life like coral, fish, turtles, whales, dolphins and seabirds. For information on accessing Fagatele Bay, please visit the National Marine Sanctuary website.
Many tours are available with activities like mountain biking, beach trips, fishing tours, snorkeling, and hiking on volcanoes!
One of the best ways to experience cultural exchange is through food and cooking. Visitors will enjoy exploring the regional specialties and local cuisine during their time in the United States.
A fia fia is a traditional celebration on American Samoa with music, dancing and often an umu feast with foods like taro, pisupo, and a suckling pig. Umu is a method of cooking using an earth oven. Many hotels and resorts on the island host fia fia nights for visitors.
For a unique and local perspective on American culture, be sure to check out festivals and events near your cultural exchange program location. These events are a fun and interesting way to interact with locals and to learn more about American culture by experiencing it firsthand.
American holidays are celebrated in American Samoa, but the country also has its own celebration known as Flag Day. The April 17th holiday celebrates the day American Samoa became a part of the United States and it often includes traditional dancing, music, parades, fautasi (long boat) races, and, often, a cricket tournament.
National Tourism Week is a time for American Samoa to show off its culture to tourists with parades, fireworks, barbecues and the Miss American Samoa contest. The tourism week takes place during the first week of May.
Employers may be able to assist with housing during your time in the United States, but this is not always possible for all participants. When looking for housing during your cultural exchange program, consider the cost of the accommodation, the distance to your work place and the amount of time you will be in the United States.
It’s also important to avoid fraudulent housing. It is highly recommended that you secure short-term housing upon arrival (e.g. in a hostel) and conduct your housing search once you are in the U.S. Never give your financial information to a stranger over the Internet. Browse the Housing Information guides for InterExchange participants below for more tips and advice.
General Housing Information
- Housing information for Work and Travel USA participants
- Housing information for Career Training USA interns and trainees
U.S. American Samoa Housing Resources
Some examples of housing and accommodation resources for American Samoa participants include:
Accommodation resources for any participants traveling in other areas of the United States:
Public transportation options can be hit or miss, depending on your location in the United States. Buses are a common transportation option for short and long-term travel in the U.S., while some areas will also have trains, subways and other options.
A ferry service is available between Aleiapata and Pago Pago from the Samoa Shipping Corporation.
Aiga buses are inexpensive, independently owned buses. According to the Visitors Bureau, “Bus stops are found throughout the main island of Tutuila, but you can stop and catch a bus from anywhere on the side of the road simply by waving down a bus. All buses have village names on them and travel from their respective villages to the bus depot at Fagatogo in town and then return. The buses operate throughout the day with services ending around 5:00 p.m. at night Monday to Friday. On Saturday services are reduced and on Sundays only a handful of buses operate.” Learn more on the Visitors Bureau website.
Health & Safety
Participants in American Samoa can use the following resources in case of an emergency or extreme weather event in their area:
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) www.fema.gov and www.ready.gov
- Guam FEMA updates on Twitter @femaregion9
Help Your Community
Interact with others and expand your skill set by volunteering in your local community. Volunteer organizations are often looking for short-term volunteers or for individuals to help with a single event, making it a great option for InterExchange participants who wish to add to their cultural exchange experience during their time in the United States.
Contact the National Park of American Samoa to see how you may be able to help and volunteer your time at the park.
NOAA’s national marine sanctuaries are often looking for volunteers to help with many types of activities that support the natural and cultural resources of the area. Contact the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa and see if the organization needs volunteers.
Look for local non-profit organizations that may need volunteers to help them with important tasks like office work, fundraising or donating your time at events.
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