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Hope House Donations
Sister Faustina Stowers of Hope House/Fatuoaiga receives a gift of food donations from the ASCC International Students Organization and their adviser Tala Ropeti-Leo. (Photo: K. Garcia)

ISO Hope House Donations
Sister Faustina Stowers of Hope House/Fatuoaiga receives a gift of food donations from the ASCC International Students Organization and their adviser Tala Ropeti-Leo. (Photo: K. Garcia)

New ASCC Organization Brings Together International Students

March 25, 2014

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

A new campus organization at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) will enable international students to offer one another academic support while also offering opportunities for civic and social engagement. The International Student Organization (ISO) has been established under the leadership of Dean of Student Services Dr. Emilia Le’i, with Tala Ropeti-Leo of the Student Learning Assistance Center serving as the organization’s advisor.

“The mission of the ASCC International Organization is to provide a strong support system for our international students,” said Ropeti-Leo. “The ISO will provide opportunities for all students, regardless of ethnicity, to be involved in school activities while raising awareness on the importance of social diversity. Our goals are to promote unity, to encourage international students to share their cultures and values, to recognize and appreciate all diversities within ASCC, to encourage international students’ involvement in school activities, and to create an inclusive environment where students of different cultures can feel like they belong.”

Ropeti-Leo emphasized that foremost among the organization’s priorities is helping international students succeed academically. “Language becomes a barrier for learning for many international students,” she said. “This sometimes makes it difficult for them to understand class lectures and materials. Feeling shy or awkward, international students are sometimes more comfortable asking their peers, rather than a faculty member, for help. Their peers in the ISO can answer questions, clarify what was said in class, or help with homework and assignments. We’ll also provide reference services to the different offices on campus where the appropriate information and assistance can be found.”

The ISO currently consists of 23 members from different cultures such as Korea, the Philippines, China, Tokelau, Germany, Tonga and Samoa, and any students of different ethnic or cultural backgrounds are welcome to join. They have elected Jennifer Tuiletuguga as President, Emily Johnson as Vice President, Jae Yang Chae as Treasurer, and Dezmond Applin as Secretary. The Organization meets a minimum of twice a month and has plans underway to become actively involved in community service as well as the campus activities hosted by the Student Government Association.

As part of their initial community service project, the ISO recently held a Food Drive to assist the residents of Hope House/Fatuoaiga, to whom they presented all of the gathered food and monetary donations on Tuesday, March 25th. “Since our first meeting, our members have been very eager not only to help each other with their classes, but also to show how much they want to be good citizens by participating in community service projects,” said Ropeti-Leo. “Hope House is the first place the ISO members wanted to fundraise for.” Putting their plan into action, the ISO first held a Pickathon on Friday, March 14th at Su’igaula Utulei Beach Park. All proceeds from the Pickathon and donations from the Food Drive have gone to Hope House.

During the current semester, the ISO will also be holding an Art Poster Competition beginning on March 31st with the theme of “Unity Among Diversity at ASCC,” as well as a Poetry Competition beginning April 14th under the similar theme of “Appreciation of Diversity”. “Our long term goal is to continue to recruit more members, and to make sure that all students regardless of race, cultural background or gender feel welcomed at ASCC,” said Ropeti-Leo. The ISO also hopes to soon host an International Night event where students can enjoy a variety of food, music, and cultural presentations. These ambitions reflect the level of enthusiasm the ISO members have not only for supporting each other academically, but also for enlivening the cultural and social milieu of their campus. “The members we have so far are very active,” said Ropeti-Leo, “and I believe that together we can achieve great things.”

Ropeti-Leo said that anyone who would like more information on the ISO is welcome to call 699-911 ext 461, 733-2690 or email