History of the Peace Corps in Samoa

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History of the Peace Corps
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Since 1960, when then Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries, more than 182,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 138 countries all over the globe.

See also:



In 1967, after experiencing a difficult year and a devastating cyclone, Samoa invited the Peace Corps. The first Volunteers worked in rural villages, leading health and hygiene projects for Samoa's Department of Health. These early Volunteers remain well-known for the introduction of water seal toilets, now affectionately called fale Pisikoa (Peace Corps houses).

The next groups to follow were civil engineers, architects, accountants, statisticians, and economic planners who served in various central government departments. One early Volunteer was the architect and construction supervisor for the present Parliament building at Mulinu’u and the supporting offices of the Legislative Assembly.

Volunteers also had a significant impact on infrastructure development, such as the Faleolo International Airport terminal and school buildings. Some took up prominent, executive positions in various government departments, such as acting directors of Public Works.

In health care, Volunteers have served as researchers in filariasis control (filariasis is a parasitic disease caused by a blood nematode), and they have worked at the National Hospital as nutrition educators and dietitians. Other Volunteers have worked as small business advisors and as youth development workers.

While Volunteers have served in most sectors and departments during the 40-year history of the Peace Corps in Samoa, the largest numbers have served in the Department of Education as classroom teachers and advisors. Peace Corps Volunteers have taught and been involved in educating tens of thousands of Samoan children. They have helped build the capacity of local teachers by serving in classrooms for two years, allowing Samoan teachers to attend the National University of Samoa full-time, enhancing their education and teaching skills. Volunteers have taught in a variety of subject areas, including science, business, mathematics, and computer studies. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and other Samoans are happy to share stories about their favorite Pisikoa who taught them in school or lived with their family. To date, more than 1,760 Volunteers have served in Samoa.


Future of Peace Corps Programming in Samoa

Having worked for several decades on building the capacity of educators in Samoa and wanting to focus on other project areas, the education project was graduated in December 2003.

In June 2001, in cooperation and partnership with the Government of Samoa, Peace Corps/Samoa began two new projects: village-based development (VBD) and capacity building (CB). The VBD project includes the Future Farmers of Samoa (FFS) program and an integrated coastal management (ICM) initiative, while the CB project includes information and communication technology (ICT), special needs education (SNE), and mentoring in technical and professional areas (MTPA). These projects remain the core of the Peace Corps’ development assistance to Samoa.

In the VBD project, Volunteers work with rural communities to help them articulate their common vision for the future and to assist them in identifying their assets, mobilizing local resources, and accessing additional services to help them achieve their vision. As part of these efforts, Volunteers often facilitate, with their village counterparts, the design and management of small-scale projects in numerous sectors, including health, agriculture, youth, and income generation. Volunteers with the Future Farmers of Samoa project are helping make agriculture a profession of first choice in Samoa. ICM Volunteers work with various local organizations and communities to incorporate marine education and awareness into science classes, develop environmental projects, and assist with the monitoring and protecting marine resources.

ICT Volunteers work primarily in schools and sometimes in offices as teachers, teacher trainers, curriculum developers, network programmers, systems administrators, and systems analysts. SNE Volunteers build understanding and skills in the schools and communities of Samoa for students with special needs and in early childhood and inclusive education. MTPA Volunteers work with local development agencies and government ministries on strategic planning, capacity building, program design and management, and systemizing day-to-day operations.

In 2006, Peace Corps/Samoa updated its vision to the following:

A dynamic community service-focused post, working in partnership with Samoa to achieve its vision by identifying and initiating new, enhancing current, and graduating sustainable programs, through the support of well-trained, safety-oriented, adaptable Volunteers in meaningful assignments committed to building understanding and capacity.


Assignment History

Sector Assignment Beg. Yr End. Yr
Agriculture Ag Economics 1982 2007
Ag Education 1982 1994
Ag Extension 1981 2007
Animal Husband 1976 1996
Animal Husband Lg 1980 1981
Apiculture 1984 1984
Crop Extension 1967 2005
Fisheries Marine 1981 1985
Soil Science 1982 1986
Business Accounting 1979 2001
Business Advising 1986 2007
Business Development 1999 1999
Computer Science 1996 2007
Cooperatives 1971 1999
NGO Advising 2000 2007
Urban and Regional Planning 2000 2000
Crisis Corps Crisis Corps 1992 1992
Education Art Education 1983 1998
Bus. Ed/Sectl Skl 1978 1986
English Teacher 1979 2006
English Teacher Trainer 1988 1996
Fisheries Fresh 1985 1985
Gen. Construction 2004 2007
Home Economics 1983 1997
Industrial Arts 1976 1997
Library Science 1978 1978
Phys. Ed/Youth Wk 1984 1984
Prim-Ed/Teach Trn 1981 2006
Science Ed/Gen. 1980 1987
Secondary-Ed Math 1981 2005
Secondary-Ed Sci. 1978 2005
Special Ed/Gen. 1982 2007
Voc. Trainer 1981 1992
Environment Comm Forestry Ext 1988 1988
Environmental Ed. 1979 2002
Forestry 1982 1998
Protected Areas Management 1999 2007
Health Disease Control 1981 1981
Envir. and Water Resource 1975 2006
Health Degreed 1980 2003
Health Extension 1983 2007
Home Econ/Ext. 1983 1986
Hygiene Ed/Sanitation 1981 2007
Med. Technician 1980 1981
Physical Therapy 1985 1985
Other Flexible App 1975 1983
Unique Skill 1978 2007
UNV United Nations Volunteer 1976 2001
Youth and Community Development Appropriate Tech. 1981 1986
Commun. Serv/Deg. 1978 2004
Mechanics 1985 1993
Youth Development 1997 2005