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Future collaborations in research for medical and other scientific areas of expertise were the focus of the symposium and discussions held on the 3rd of October, 2018 between the School of Medicine, NUS Research Experts and leading Research Professors from the University of Auckland and University of Otago. Professor Peter Shepherd from the University of Auckland and Professor Tony Merriman from the University of Otago paid a courtesy call to the National University of Samoa and the School of Medicine to initiate discussions on possible partnerships in research development tackling medical conditions which are common in Samoa. Professors Shepherd and Merriman are leading researchers and investigators at the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiversity. Maurice Wilkins Centre is one of New Zealand’s national research Centers and ranked as Centre for Excellence for Molecular Biotechnology. The institution has contributed immensely initiating and conducting various research projects on health conditions that are common in the Pacific Island Countries.

Professor Peter Shepherd (fifth from left) and Professor Tony Merriman (second from left) with the NUS Vice Chancellor

Professor Fui Le’apai Asofou So’o (centre) and staff of NUS and SoM.

The discussions between the two institutions identified several challenges which includes amongst others cancer, diabetes, rheumatic fever, genetic, TB drugs, microbial drug resistance, gout and metabolic diseases as the priority areas for research development. Samoa is amongst the top ten countries in the world with an alarming rate of diabetic conditions. This is a major challenge to national developments of a small island nation such as Samoa posing a threat to the future population.  The proposed collaboration envisions scientists from the School of Medicine, leading researchers of NUS and other cohort institutions e.g. SROS to initiate a caucus that will work with Maurice Wilkins Center on research projects to help address the identified areas of health concerns within Samoa. In his presentation, Professor Shepherd shared his study on “Genetics and metabolic health of Maori and Pacific people” where statistics found that it is not directly environmental factors relating a certain individual with diabetic and obesity, gene is one other contributing element. He added that several new drugs are being developed and currently in clinical trials for the treatment of cancer, diabetics, TB and rheumatic diseases. Samoa will benefit greatly from this collaboration where local researchers at the School of Medicine and other Faculties can be part of the ongoing investigations of health conditions of our own people and more importantly identifying possible solutions.  

Additional discussions noted the need for the School of Medicine staff to explore opportunities that will enhance their skills and knowledge especially continuous professional development which will go a long way in redefining and rekindling the passion and love for scientific explorations.

 

 

 

The Confucius Institute at the National University of Samoa was officially opened in an opening ceremony on September 10, 2018 at 10am at the NUS main campus at Le-Papaigalagala.

The Confucius Institute was established in collaboration between the National University of Samoa and Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban, China), with Liaocheng University as the partner university in China. Confucius Institutes are non-profit public institutions that started since 2004, with the aim to promote Chinese language and culture in foreign countries. They have become a platform for cultural exchanges between China and the world, as well as a bridge to reinforce friendship and cooperation between China and the rest of the world. The Confucius Institute at the National University of Samoa is the first and only Confucius Institute established in Samoa.

The opening ceremony was attended by H.E. Wang Xuefeng, Chinese Ambassador to Samoa; Hon. Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell, Minister for Public Enterprises; Hon. Faaolesa Katopau Ainuu, Minister of Justice and Courts Administration; Hon. Papaliitele Niko Lee Hang, Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure; Professor Fui Asofou So'o, NUS Vice Chancellor & Chair of CI-NUS Board; Dr. Desmond Lee Hang, NUS Deputy Vice-Chancellor & CI-NUS Local Director; Dr. Guojie Liang, CI-NUS Chinese Director; Members of Parliament; Members of the Diplomatic Corps from New Zealand, Australia, and the US; UNESCO Representative;Delegates from Liaocheng University; Members of the Samoan Chinese Association; Members of the Local Chinese Business Community; Chinese Volunteers in Samoa; along with about 100 other guests from all walks of life including students and Principals from Vaivase Primary, Robert Louis Stevenson Primary School, Maagiagi Primary School, Leififi College and Vaimauga College. The ceremony was hosted by Professor Fui Asofou So'o, NUS Vice Chancellor & Chair of CI-NUS Board.

In the keynote speech, the Hon. Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell, Minister for Public Enterprises, reiterated the Government of Samoa's gratitude to the Government of the People's Republic of China for its support of Samoa's National Development initiatives. He acknowledged the joint efforts made by NUS and Liaocheng University in the setting up of the Confucius Institute, and pointed out that the opening of the Confucius Institute symbolized the close and strong Sino-Samoan relationship. He emphasized the shared history between Chinese and Samoan people, and encouraged young people to learn Chinese and study the Chinese culture to promote cultural understandings, enhance diplomacy and facilitate trade and commerce in the future. Finally, he thanked Hanban, the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing for granting permission to establish the Confucius Institute, and officially declared the opening of the Confucius Institute at the National University of Samoa.

On behalf of the Chinese Embassy, H.E. Wang Xuefeng, Chinese Ambassador to Samoa gave his warmest congratulations on the opening of the Confucius Institute at NUS. As the date of the opening ceremony coincided with Teachers’ Day in China, he also delivered a Teachers’ Day wish to all the teachers present. China-Samoa ties have always been strong and solid since the two countries established diplomatic ties 43 years ago in 1975. The opening of the Confucius Institute at NUS is the best example of this growing link. Due to the rapid economic and social development of China, the interest and demand to study Chinese language have been soaring up quickly in the past decades. Confucius Institutes have acted as a bridge for communicating different languages and civilization, facilitating understanding and friendship between the people of China and other countries. For Samoa, the Confucius Institute Headquarters started sending Chinese teachers to Samoan schools since 2013, and thousands of Samoan students have benefited from the Chinese classes. Finally, H.E. Wang Xuefeng acknowledged the efforts and hard work of Liaocheng University and NUS for the establishment of the Confucius Institute, and looked forward to the Institute growing to be a symbol of China-Samoa friendship and cooperation in the heart of both the Chinese and Samoan people.

During the ceremony, Ms. Yanting Song, Director of International Programs Office at Liaocheng University, read out the letter of congratulations from Mr. Ma Jianfei, Deputy Chief Executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters and Executive Deputy Director-General of Hanban, China and the letter of congratulations from Mr. Cai Xianjin, President of Liaocheng University.

In his congratulatory message, Mr. Ma Jianfei conveyed his congratulations on behalf of Confucius Institute Headquarters and expressed gratitude to all those who have made contributions to the establishment of the Confucius Institute at NUS. He emphasized the strategic partnership and practical cooperation between China and Samoa, acknowledged the position and work of National University of Samoa and Liaocheng University, and hoped that the two universities, would work together to lay a solid foundation for Chinese language learning and carry out a rich mixture of cultural activities, making the Confucius Institute a bridge between China and Samoa in educational and cultural exchanges and cooperation, and contributing to the enhancement of mutual understanding and friendship between Chinese and Samoan peoples. Finally, he wished the Confucius Institute every success.

In his congratulatory letter, Mr. Cai Xianjin, on behalf of Liaocheng University, expressed congratulations to the National University of Samoa and gave thanks to all those who contributed to the establishment and construction of the Confucius Institute. He believed that the opening of the Confucius Institute would become a milestone in the history of Sino-Samoan relations. It will provide a wonderful opportunity for local people to study Chinese language and culture, while also furthering educational and cultural exchanges between the two countries. Finally, he wished the Confucius Institute at the National University of Samoa a flourishing and fruitful future.

Hon. Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell cut the ribbon to the Confucius Institute building. H.E. Wang Xuefeng unveiled the name plate of the Confucius Institute. Professor Fui Asofou So'o invited guests to have a brief visit of the CI-NUS building. Ms. Yanting Song present gifts from Liaocheng University to the guests. Dr. Desmond Lee Hang and Dr. Guojie Liang gave thanks to the guests present.

The Confucius Institute at the National University of Samoa commits itself to 1) offering Chinese language programs to university students and community residents; 2) hosting a variety of Chinese cultural activities; 3) offering opportunities for Samoan students to go to China for academic or cultural purposes; 4) organizing all kinds of Chinese proficiency tests and Chinese teachers qualification authentication; 5) offering local Chinese teachers training programs; 6) developing study programs about modern China; and 7) providing information and consultation services about Chinese education, culture and economy.

 

 
 
 
 
 

Faculty of business and Entrepreneurship lecturer, Fesolaí Aleni Sofara says that men have an important part to play in advocating for the rights of the Nofotane.

This was during his presentation entitled, "THE LAW OF BEING AN IN-LAW.”

Mr. Sofara's presentation coincides with the commemoration of International Women's day, on the 8th of March 2018. He said that to date, there is no English word that could define the word "nofotane" which is the term given to women married in to other families.

Fesola’i challenged many of the stigmas and stereotypes attached to being a nofotane. "Nofotane are Women who are new in a family or a village and their role is to serve the men's families. She belongs in the kitchen,” he said.

“The Samoan saying is ia mu mata ile afi, or that the nofotane’s main responsibility is the kitchen facing the open fire,” he said.

Fesola’i said, that while Nofotane is an individual choice, it is a choice that is looked down upon by many.

“Once you made this choice to get married and move to the man’s family there is only one word to describe you. The Nofotane," he said.

He strongly disagrees that the nofotane is being valued less than women of the families of their husbands, and that they have no voice in decision making, as suggested by the United Nations.

Fesola’i says that many families are wealthy because of the work of the nofotane. He says in his own experience, after interviewing five nofotane women in his family, he found them to be more trustworthy than his own family members.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Lafaitele Fualuga Taupi agreed with Fesolaí saying that Nofotane are not slaves, and that behind a great man is a greater woman.

Head of Department for the Samoan Language and Culture Seiuli Vaifou Temese commented that the word "tamaítaí," is translated as the daughter which all the fine things in her family is presented to.

The problem lies when she is relocated to her husband's family, where she cannot expect to take those fine things, and enjoy the same privileges as that of her husband's sisters.

Yet she believes that the Nofotane understands the family better, and patience is the key to her being blessed with something more special.

Fesola’i Toleafoa ‘Ape Aleni Sofara is a lecturer in Commercial law at the Faculty of Business and Entrepreneurship at the National University of Samoa.

His article, Tui’umi: The assassin has recently been published in the Journal of Samoan Studies, Vol 7, (3), 87-93.


 

The status of the feagaiga, or the sacred covenant, the sister as the apple of the brother's eye is not enough to protect "all "women from the prevalence of domestic violence in Samoa.

This is according to Professor Tagaloatele Peggy Dunlop, Professor of Pacific Studies at Auckland University of Technology, in delivering the keynote address, at the second day of the 4th Samoa Conference currently underway at the National University of Samoa. The professor presented a research titled "revisiting sisters and wives", asking the key question can value of women translates to ending violence against women.

The professor based some of her research on the recent first commission on Women's rights where a steep increase of family violence was presented. Among the most vulnerable to violence according to her research were young girls, and particular the nofotane, or women who are married into other families. According to the professor, women were prevented from sharing their stories by the mentality of families to hide and silence what has been happening to protect the family status, undermining the emotional impacts on them and their children. This highlights the urgency of seeking answers.

Professor acknowledges the legal processes set up by the state to address this problem. However the professor said that rearranging a few tasks and changing a few roles, will not provide a solution. She said we should go back to our family structures, and reevaluate how we value relationships with others in the past.

One of the practices in the faásamoa which should theoretically prevent violence against women in Samoa is the women's sacred status as the covenant or the feagaiga the apple of the brother's eye. However the professor claim the feagaiga is no longer enough to safeguard women from violence. This feagaiga can never stop the domestic violence that women are facing today.

The professor was unable to determine exactly when the status of the ‘feagaiga’ stops being a force to prevent domestic violence. She claim however that the feagaiga only protect somebody's sister, and not the wives.

In the question and answer session, some says feagaiga stops when the sister gets married however some says it only stops when the sister is no longer living. According to the Vice chancellor of the National University of Samoa professor Fui Leapai Tuua ilaoa Asofou So'o, the feagaiga is now relegated to the periphery because the realities and contexts that it was related to are not there 100%.

He said it was relevant in the old times, times of wars, conflict, strategies, deciding who to hold the matai titles. "Now we have customary laws now to take care of conflicts. So the feagaiga relegated to the periphery. It is up to us Samoans to decide what to hold on to and what to let go," commented the Vice Chancellor. Tuiloma Dr. Susana Taua'a, one of the participants also suggested that perhaps the ideology of the feagaiga has shifted to a stranger, in this case the church minister which perhaps is the reason for the feagaiga status being relegated to the, periphery“ The wives and the sisters have the right to be safe. Women should be free from violence and harm”, says Prof. Dunlop.

“In New Zealand the family system isn’t working because there are so many options. Others turn to law for help”, says Prof. Dunlop.

In Samoa, there are many communities that they are divided into. For instance, there are the Matai Village Administration, Faletua & Tausi (In marrying wives), Aualuma (Daughters of the village), Aumaga (Untitled males) and Children.

Prof. Dunlop said we need to find a system that prevents family against "all women" not some women.

She insisted that we should go back to the traditional family structures and evaluating our relationships and how we use to view others, therein lays the solution to family violence against women.

The Samoa conference continues.

*Vaelei is a first year Media and Journalism student at the National University of Samoa.

 

The 4th Samoa Conference hosted by the National University of Samoa was officially opened Yesterday 4th September 2018.

Hon. Keneti Loau Sio gave the keynote address and reiterated the hope to achieve sharp minds after the Samoa Conference. Samoa has been facing a lot of challenges however they were able to find the right solution for them. Challenges like domestic violence, climate change, and so forth. He also highlighted the importance of having partnerships with other countries. He believes that if there are many lights then there will be many shellfish.

At the end of the Samoa Conference, Samoa will be able to tackle any trials that may arise. Good governance is one of the issues that need to be addressed and he is expecting for it to be overcome. Domestic violence and climate change are the biggest ones that we have to deal with head on.

The conference delegates were welcomed with a traditional Ava ceremony held on the 3rd September at the NUS Fale Samoa. The Conference is for three days and covers a wide range of topics and discussions.

 

 

Latest News

Thumbnail Future collaborations in research for medical and other scientific areas of expertise were the focus of the symposium and discussions held on the 3rd of October, 2018 between the School of Medicine, NUS Research Experts and leading Research Professors from the University of Auckland and University of Otago....
Thumbnail The Confucius Institute at the National University of Samoa was officially opened in an opening ceremony on September 10, 2018 at 10am at the NUS main campus at Le-Papaigalagala. The Confucius Institute was established in collaboration between the National University of Samoa and Confucius...
Thumbnail Faculty of business and Entrepreneurship lecturer, Fesolaí Aleni Sofara says that men have an important part to play in advocating for the rights of the Nofotane. This was during his presentation entitled, "THE LAW OF BEING AN IN-LAW.” Mr. Sofara's presentation coincides with the commemoration of...
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