By U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, Mark Gilbert.
On my arrival to Samoa, I’d like to offer warm Pacific greetings and to share a few words about the strong relationship between our two countries. I am honored to have been chosen by President Barack Obama – our nation’s first Pacific Island president – to serve as the United States Ambassador to Samoa and to develop our people-to-people ties during my tenure. I look forward to working with the Government and People of Samoa on such important issues as climate change, trade and business development and education. Connected by the Pacific, the United States and Samoa enjoy a longstanding relationship defined by enduring values of democracy, religious freedom, economic prosperity, and our mutual focus on cherished family ties. Our relationship is built on a bedrock of mutual trust and our shared strategic interests.
I humbly assume this mantle of responsibility very well aware of the important role that Samoa plays in the Pacific community of nations and in the world more broadly. I was impressed by Samoa’s great success hosting the United Nations Small Island Developing States conference last September – and by your willingness and ability to assist other island states with their economic, environmental and social challenges.
As the first independent country formed out of island territories in the Pacific, Samoa is a leader in democratic governance, security and economic stability in the Pacific region. We work together, protecting the environment and fisheries and engaging on security and international law enforcement. Our Coast Guard and Navy team with your Maritime and Fishery officials to preserve and protect your fishery and ocean resources.
USAID funds significant climate adaption programs that are already providing dividends to local communities throughout Samoa. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme, headquartered in Apia, cooperates with our scientists and researchers on critical projects like climate change and the protection of vital marine habitats and resources.
We are very proud of the new hospital we recently completed – and of our Peace Corps volunteers, who have made significant contributions to Samoan society for close to 50 years. Our team-work, including building friendships through our professional sports connections, is also well-known.
I plan to strengthen our joint collaboration around these shared interests through our team at the United States Embassy in Apia, under the leadership of our Deputy Chief of Mission, Peter Ganser.
On this first trip I am joined by my wife Nancy and our daughter Liz. We look forward to experiencing your renowned Pacific Island hospitality, to learning about your unique and vibrant culture, and to exploring beautiful Samoa. We want to get to know you and your families as well as share more about our backgrounds with you.
Back in the United States, we share our time between the great states of Florida and Utah. Our home of Utah boasts the largest per capita Pacific Island population in the Continental United States and our country also has one of the largest Samoan diaspora populations in the world.
Samoans are an integral part of the fabric of American society. In addition to Utah, there are also vibrant Samoan communities in Southern California, Las Vegas, Hawaii, the East Coast, and elsewhere. Samoan Americans and American Samoans are making an impact in the United States not only in sports but in finance, entertainment, academia, politics, religion, and engineering.
Here in Samoa, American citizens as well as churches and organizations of American origin continue to be a strong, positive, and meaningful presence.
Clearly, the ties between our two countries are steadfast and rooted in our shared history, culture, faith, and economic links. My diverse professional background – from baseball to banking, from community leadership to the political arena, will be the attribute I bring to this honored post and to the people of Samoa. I am humbled to represent the United States and I look forward to meeting many of you during the next few days. My family wishes yours many warm blessings and much prosperity.