Updated: Oct 22
October 3, 2023
The weekend started early in American Samoa as the Rotary Club prepared to receive Rotary’s District 9920 Governor Vineeta Nand from Fiji.
“She’s going into the Departure Lounge now,” messaged Rotary Club of Apia President Titilia Bese. Our Rotary friend in neighboring Samoa had successfully shepherded the District Governor (DG) to the Fagali’i Airport that Wednesday afternoon.
It was already Thursday some 60 miles away across the International Dateline in American Samoa and a small group from the Rotary Club of Pago Pago (RCPP) waited at Pago Pago International Airport for Vineeta’s arrival.
“I’ve got the flower lei,” messaged RCPP Vice President Moeroa Hardman. The club's online group chat was abuzz as the members prepared for an incredible weekend packed with service work. It was Vineeta Nand’s first trip to American Samoa and everyone wanted it to be special.
That night, the Rotary Club of Pago Pago held a special nighttime meeting in honor of Vineeta’s visit. Members gathered at Sadie’s by the Sea to review club projects and to hear the District Governor’s presentation. She highlighted projects from throughout District 9920 which is comprised of portions of Auckland, New Zealand along with the Pacific areas of Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, American Samoa, Kiribati and French Polynesia. Afterward, RCPP President Cherith Soliai presented Vineeta with a club banner. The members capped off the evening with a jovial round of club fines and a group photo.
Friday marked a full day of Rotary activities starting with breakfast for the DG and the RCPP Board of Directors at A&E Café. Afterward, President Cherith and Secretary Jackie Hall took Vineeta for a tour of the island and club projects around Tutuila. This included stops at the Pala Lagoon Swimming Center, Angel Rings and the National Park of American Samoa.
The club's group chat was busy again that afternoon as the members prepared to induct over 120 students into Interact. DG Vineeta, President Cherith and Area Governor Frank Barron were the Guests of Honor at the Interact Induction program which was hosted at the Department of Youth & Women’s Affairs Tafuna Center.
Students from six schools were inducted. This year, there will be clubs at:
· Tafuna High School
· Samoana High School
· Leone High School
· Pacific Horizons School
· Manumalo Academy
· Fa’asao Marist High School (American Samoa’s newest Interact Club!)
In her remarks to the assembly, RCPP Youth Committee Chair Danielle King said, “We are so excited to witness the growing membership of Interact Clubs here in American Samoa! It is a testament to the spirit of service that thrives here. We look forward to learning and serving alongside you as you roll out your service projects this school year. When you have a moment and if you have not already done so, Google Interact Clubs and you will find so many clubs throughout the world and descriptions of their service projects. It is a rewarding experience; not only to serve but to be part of a service club that is global! So enjoy it all!”
After the ceremony, Rotarians ended the day with dinner and fellowship at Equator Restaurant.
There was yet another full day of activities on Saturday. It began with Rotarians volunteering at the annual Hope House Golf Tournament. DG Vineeta fit right in with the rest as they served golfers snacks; their work supporting Hope House which is American Samoa’s only home for the elderly, those needing hospice care and those with severe disabilities. Rotarians McCann Utu and Faafua Cummings represented the club out on the course.
Afterward, it was time to zip over to the Su’igaula Beach Park in Utulei for the Moso’oi Week Swap Meet where the Rotaract Club of Pago Pago hosted a booth. The day concluded with a night of fellowship in Lions Park where Rotary set up a tent and barbecue at the Department of Commerce’s CoastWeeks Fun Day and Drone Light Show.
RCPP Vice President Moeroa Hardman commented, “We had a very enjoyable evening Saturday night watching the drone show and hosting our District Governor Vineeta. Many Rotarians contributed by bringing food and beverages as we always do. I very much appreciate everybody’s cooperation and assistance on a quickly organized event. Special thanks to our amazing President Cherith for being a great hostess.”
On Sunday, Rotarians gathered once again for a farewell breakfast for DG Vineeta at Tradewinds Hotel. She gave praise to the club for their work. “It has been an absolutely tremendous trip. The family of Rotarians that I've met here (are) absolutely brilliant people. The work that is being done. The projects that are being done by Rotary, Rotaract, and of course the Interact have really been an eye-opener. Pago Pago will be a great example as I visit other clubs (and explain) what it means to be a dynamic club. Thank you very much for having me.”
When asked if she thinks RCPP is doing a good job of reflecting the values of Rotary International, she said, “I think it absolutely 100% reflects it. The work you do. The community knows about you and this is what it is all about; being known in the community so that people can reach out to Rotary whenever they need help. And I think you're there. So in terms of public image, yes, you're absolutely there.”
RCPP Cherith gave her thoughts, as well. “We are grateful for the opportunity to host DG Vineeta Nand. She is an amazing individual with such a dynamic personality. Vineeta got to visit most of our local projects such as the Pala Lagoon Swim Center, Angel rings and also took part in the serving up at the Hope House Golf tournament. She also got to see some sites around our beautiful American Samoa and she enjoyed taking photos of our vibrant island Aiga buses. Most grateful that Vineeta got to attend the Interact Induction to witness some of our future service leaders. She continues to encourage Rotary to do great things in our community.”
After breakfast and the presentation of some parting gifts, a small group shepherded Vineeta to Pago Pago International Airport to board her flight back across the International Dateline where she would again be greeted by Rotary Club of Apia President Titilia.
“DG is checked in and ready to fly back to you,” I messaged Titi. “She’s wonderful. I hope you enjoy taking her around as much as we did.”
Photo Credits: Thanks to DG Vineeta and local Rotarians for all of the wonderful photos! - Joey