by Emma Apatu
ETSU College of Public Health
Developing Strategies to Promote Healthy Diets to American Samoan Youth
Summer school is currently in full swing throughout American Samoa. In the morning time you will often see several school children walking or taking the bus to school with their backpacks on chatting with their friends and local street vendors selling fresh banana, taro, and bok choy to passersby. By 9:00 many classes are in session with bright eyed students soaking in morning lessons. By mid-day students are offered a generous snack/lunch. During break periods and afterschool, it is common to see students hanging out by the fales (a hut like structure).
Over the past two weeks, I have been actively working on a Healthy Food Assessment for school aged children in American Samoa. The purpose of this assessment is to gather ideas from students, teachers, parents, and school administrators on how to promote healthy diets to American Samoa’s school aged children and information on school aged children’s access to healthy foods. With the assistance of two community liaisons, Sharon and Marie, from the American Samoa Land Grant office and the staff at the two local high schools, I have been able to conduct eight interviews. All of the interviews were conducted at one of two high schools, Fa’asao Marist private school which has approximately 200 students and Leone High school, a public school with an estimated 1,000 students.
Currently, I am transcribing and analyzing the transcripts and will be summarizing the findings that will go into a final report that will be submitted to Dr. Dan Aga who is the Chair of the American Samoan Food Policy Council. In addition, to the interview information, I am also working on a school-based policy analysis to complement the interview findings.
I am definitely learning a lot by being able to apply knowledge that I have learned in my doctoral program to a real world setting and by immersing myself in another culture.
I am so proud to be here serving as a Frist Global Health Leader !