Samoan Cultural Celebration

Samoan Cultural Celebration
The traditional money dance raises money for youth. Spectators award dancers with dollar bills. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — The weeklong Samoan Cultural Celebration concludes July 11 with a finale to recognize Junior Seau’s introduction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Wayne Godinet, Samoan Cultural Committee and Save Our Streets volunteer, said the cultural committee sees the Hall of Fame honor, set to take place in August, as a source of inspiration for the community.

Seau’s family, football teammates, and local youth from the beach workout group that Seau established, will be part of the closing event, which will be fittingly held at the Junior Seau Pier Amphitheater.

The finale will also feature food, live music, faith-based outreach, youth group performances and Polynesian dance.

The week celebrates Samoan culture and strives to inspire high personal and academic goals in children and teens.

This year MiraCosta College partnered with the Samoan Cultural Committee and city of Oceanside to sponsor the weeklong celebration.

The Samoan Church Choir performed at the college concert hall to open the celebration July 8.

A kickoff at the college clock tower followed, with food, live music and information booths. Student ambassadors were on hand to give guided campus tours to the 400 attendees.

Later in the week a student panel talked about the ins and outs of attending college, and a rugby clinic led by Coach Keli Ross Ma’u, of Alta Vista High School Wave Rugby, was held on the campus athletic field.

Cheryl Broom, MiraCosta College director of communications, said a couple of dozen students and parents attended the panel discussion. Topics included job/career/work benefits of attending college, barriers that prevent students from getting into higher education and programs and services that helped panelists succeed in college.

Broom said the college is working to increase its current 2 percent enrollment of Pacific Island students, to reflect the area’s population.

She added the cultural celebration helps build community.

“People had a chance to take a look around the college and get to know staff and faculty,” Broom said. “It’s a good way to get to know the community and for the community to get to know us better as well.”

Broom and Godinet both said they look forward to the college/cultural committee partnership continuing all year.

Events also took place at Melba Bishop Recreation Center.

Middle school and high school students took part in baseball, volleyball and basketball tournaments.

The tournaments bring teens together for camaraderie and friendly competition.

“Fellowship with other Samoans gives identity, a sense of belonging, a purpose,” said volleyball player Grant Muagututia, at a previous year’s event. “Culture is an advantage.”

An important part of the celebration is an annual meeting between community leaders, services organizations, churches and law enforcement representatives to discuss neighborhood issues and concerns and strategize solutions.

Godinet said work with youth continues all year.

“Even after the week ends we’re right back to address issues, and not have them run amok,” Godinet said. “We’re trying to reach all ages, all cultures.”

The Samoan Cultural Celebration finale will be held July 11, from 11 a.m. to sunset, at the Junior Seau Pier Amphitheater.  Admission is free.

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