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Students from American Samoa celebrated “Lotu Tamaiti”

American Samoa tradition of Lotu Tamaiti celebrated at SOU

It’s not unusual to meet students at SOU who are here – far away from home, hundreds and thousands of miles away from their parents and siblings, and life that they’ve known for 17 years or more. But to meet over 30 students who are all here from American Samoa, a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, is one of the ways that SOU stands out.

American Samoa students at SOU

photos courtesy of Cherstin Lyon

On Sunday, Oct. 17, a group of our students from American Samoa got together to celebrate an annual cultural tradition that most of them grew up with: “Lotu Tamaiti” (low-too tah-my-tee), also known as “White Sunday” or “Children’s Sunday.” People of Samoan background all over the world dress up in white on a specific Sunday of each year and celebrate their children by giving them a platform to dance, sing and recite memory verses, and then shower them with candy leis and gifts.

There’s a saying from an unknown source, “You can take the boy from the island, but not the island from the boy,” and our students from American Samoa demonstrated just that. They brought this very special cultural tradition with them to SOU, and it was unforgettable.

gifts for the celebrationThe music of the Lotu Tamaiti celebration was energetic and kept all of those who were watching engaged from the beginning of the event to the very end. SOU participated in the tradition of gift-giving by offering a mesh-styled SOU bag with an SOU sweater to each of the students who attended the event.

Those who were able to join the students included Soteria Galo from Admissions; Cherstin Lyon, Ph.D., from the SOU Honors College; Carrie Vath, Ph.D., the university’s dean of students; Maj. Mark Timmons from SOU’s ROTC program; and Neil Woolf, Ph.D., the vice president for enrollment management and student affairs. The guests were grateful to have been part of the heart-felt event.

The students were not able to share this event campus-wide to give others a chance to attend and participate in-person, but they did share their celebration live on Facebook with their friends and family, both in American Samoa and all over the world.

(Story by Soteria Galo, admissions counselor, SOU Office of Admissions)