A group of students from the United States of America are in Samoa for two
weeks, here to construct two new classrooms for Vaimea Primary School.
Group leader Aubree Matheson, 23, from Clearfield, Utah told Newsline Samoa the purpose of their trip is to learn about Samoan culture and to serve. Also, they seek to strengthen their testimonies of Jesus Christ.
"We are here to gain a better understanding of the culture and to also serve the people and gain stronger testimonies of our Savior Jesus Christ. We love Samoa," she said.
"It's been so exciting to just drive around and we feel the love from the Samoan people already. Just being here. It's very unique from our country. We love our country but it's so warm and welcoming here. Everywhere we drive, people wave at us and they're just so friendly. It's a simple way of life and we love being here. Immediately, we fell in love with the Samoan culture. We love it."
Matheson is one of two group leaders who are in charge of the 19 high school students. Twenty-two-year-old Mark Orlandi is the second leader.
"Everyday, we'll be constructing two classrooms for Vaimea Primary School. We're constructing two extra classrooms for the students there. All the kids who are here they are ages 16 to 19 and they're all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," she said.
"They have all worked really hard to be here. They made a lot of sacrifices. They put school on hold, put their sports teams on hold and a lot of them have earned their own money to come here and serve the people of Samoa because they genuinely want to help and serve people around the world."
Two parents have accompanied the group to Samoa. Mom Dana Ena, from Utah, said she is married to a Samoan who has roots in Lotofaga. Her son is one of the 19 student volunteers.
Dad and actor Barton Robert Johnson, from Los Angeles, California, best known for his role as Coach Jack Bolton on the High School Musical film series, has also accompanied his child on the Samoa trip.
"They're here to help us as well," Matheson told Newsline.
Samoa-based Coordinator for the Humanitarian Experience for Youth (HEFY) project, which has built homes for Samoan families in past projects, is John Joseph of Alamagoto Ward.
Matheson, Orlandi and their team of young builders spent their first Sunday in Samoa at Alamagoto Ward.
The group arrived Thursday, 31 May and depart in two weeks.
Work on the Vaimea classrooms begins on Monday, 2 June, 2019, a national holiday in Samoa that commemorates the country's 57th year of independence.