Stepping foot on Samoan soil always invokes a sense of familiarity, nostalgia, and excitement for all that awaits. Ambassador Tom Udall and Ms. Jill Cooper had the privilege of visiting Samoa for the third time, “I can confidently say that each visit only deepens my love and appreciation for this breathtaking island nation. From engaging with government officials to witnessing historic milestones and immersing myself in Samoan culture, this visit was truly one for the books,” said Ambassador Udall.
Meeting with Government Officials and New Partnerships:
One highpoint when travelling to Samoa for Ambassador Udall is the opportunity to meet again with esteemed government officials. These meetings were essential in fostering ongoing dialogue and strengthening bilateral relations. “I expressed my invaluable participation in the U.S.-Pacific Island Countries Summit in 2022 and the U.S. Pacific Island Forum Dialogue in Papua New Guinea. Our commitment to Samoa and the Indo-Pacific region stands strong as we look to a future with increased collaboration and mutual respect,” said Ambassador Udall.
A courtesy call was also made to the Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Laauli Leuatea Fosi. “A great meeting on the positive collaboration between the Embassy and the Ministry, particularly in the area of Fisheries and Maritime with future opportunities of collaboration,” said Ambassador Udall.
Signing a New Partnership between Samoa and the Nevada National Guard:
One of the key highlights of Ambassador Udall’s trip was witnessing the signing of an impactful partnership between Samoa and the Nevada National Guard by Major General Ondra Berry and Minister of Police, Prisons and Corrections, Honorable Faualo Harry Schuster. This collaboration aims to enhance the defense capabilities, disaster response mechanisms, and overall security of both nations. Through mutual training opportunities, sharing of expertise, and joint exercises, this partnership promises to foster harmony and resilience within our communities. Samoa becomes the 100th nation to join the State Partnership Program.
First U.S. Navy Enlistment in Samoa:
A moment of immense pride and honor was observing the enlistment of a U.S. Navy servicemember Ms. Dvora Oswald in Samoa. This significant event symbolized the commitment by Ms. Dvora to uphold the values and responsibilities entrusted to her as a member of the military. Her enlistment was supported by her family and close relatives and was held on July 6 at the U.S. Embassy residence. Ambassador Udall congratulated Ms. Oswald and commended the unwavering support of her family and close relatives. “Today, as you take this significant step in your life, we recognize the immense importance it holds. By joining the ranks of the Army, Marines Corps, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard, you are pledging yourself to the service of our great nation.”
Independence Celebrations and Announcing a U.S. Ambassador:
This trip marked the first July 4 celebration for Ambassador Udall in Samoa. “I had the privilege of partaking in the celebrations, engaging with partners, friends and the community. Additionally, I was overjoyed to announce that Samoa will receive a permanent resident U.S. Ambassador in the future. This marks a pivotal moment in our united commitment to fostering diplomatic ties and strengthening our partnership.” This announcement was welcomed with cheers and excitement by guests.
Growth in Healthcare Infrastructure: Handing Over of Faleolo Hospital Expansion Wing:
A significant milestone for Samoa’s healthcare system was achieved during Ambassador Udall’s visit, with the unveiling of the expansion wing at the Faleolo Hospital. Witnessing the fruits of collaborative efforts and the enhanced facilities showcased Samoa’s commitment to providing quality healthcare for its people. It was an inspiring moment, affirming the positive impact of investments in critical infrastructure.
Engaging with Schools and Empowering Youth:
During his visit, Ambassador Udall had the pleasure of visiting local schools and engaging with enthusiastic students. One such memorable encounter was meeting Peace Corps Volunteer Maggie who dedicated her time and efforts to improving education in Samoa. The students were excited to meet Ambassador Udall and Ms. Jill Cooper, and were filled with song and cheers when they were donated books and activity guides for everyday learning. Principal Fuimaono expressed her gratitude and welcomed Ambassador Udall and the Embassy for a future visit.
Oscar Williams and the Band of Life: Arts Envoy Program:
One aspect that left an enduring impression for Ambassador Udall and Ms. Jill Cooper was the participation of Oscar Williams and the Band of Life in the Arts Envoy program from July 6 – 8. Witnessing their passion and the deep emotions conveyed through their music was awe-inspiring. Their performance at the July 4th celebration and also at the Speak Life Concert not only captivated audiences but also served as a testament to the power of art in bridging cultures and promoting peace. The Envoy concluded their program by sharing their expertise in American gospel music through a Masterclass held at the National University of Samoa, which was attended by local musicians, vocalist and gospel bands.
Pioneering J4 in Savaii:
Savaii, Samoa’s largest island, played host to the first-ever July 4 celebration, bringing the vibrant festivities to a new location. This exciting development highlighted Samoa’s efforts to ensure inclusivity and foster cultural pride across the nation. The joyful atmosphere and overwhelming community support further emphasized Samoa’s rich heritage and unwavering spirit. It was a event to be remember by students, teachers and public servants that attended the July 4 celebration, as the day included discussions about U.S. and Samoa relations, EducationUSA programs and sharing opportunities for the community.
“My third visit to Samoa surpassed all expectations, unveiling new milestones and reinforcing the enduring bond between our nations. From forging new partnerships and significant enlistments to celebrating cultural expressions and empowering youth, each experience deepened my appreciation for the Samoan spirit. As I bid farewell to this enchanting country, I remain grateful for the memories, the lessons learned, and the unwavering friendships nurtured through this unforgettable journey. Until we meet again, Samoa – fa’afetai tele!” said Ambassador Udall.