Promoting Inclusion and Rights for Disabled Athletes Through Sports
Young Pacific Island Athletes and Their Coaches Pose for a Photo Outside the U.S. Capitol

Did you know that contrary to popular belief, sign language is not universal? Although the exact number of sign languages around the world is still unknown, 19 deaf track and field athletes communicated through a universal language that they all could understand last week: sports.

I was lucky enough to meet these energetic, young athletes and their six coaches from the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, and the Solomon Islands who were here in the United States participating in a Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Sports Visitors program.  

Empowering Future Leaders in the Pacific

Future Leaders of the Pacific Conference participants pose for a photograph at the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samao in Pago Pago, Eastern, American Samoa, February 7, 2013. [U.S. Department of State photo/Public Domain]

About the Author: David Huebner serves as the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and the Independent State of Samoa.

Yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to students at the University of Virginia, where he said that for the first time in human history, young people around the world act as a global cohort. He challenged his audience to help them, and us, to use this remarkable network in a positive way. I could not agree more with the urgency of his challenge, which is why Embassies Wellington and Apia have focused so much of our resources over the past few years on taking steps to engage, listen to, and empower the young people of the Pacific.

Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting the inaugural Future Leaders of the Pacific conference (#FPL13) in Pago Pago, American Samoa. We at the American Mission to New Zealand and Samoa planned the event, in partnership with the East-West Center…more »

Fifty Years of Independence in Samoa

A marching band practices on Parliament Grounds in Samoa on May 31, 2012.  On June 1, 2012, Samoa will celebrate its 50th anniversary of independence from New Zealand rule.  The Pacific Island nation has a week of festivities planned from May 31-June 5.  Highlights include a UB40 concert at Apia Park, Step Afrika performances throughout the country, and the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet Marching Band. [U.S. Embassy photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: David Huebner serves as U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and the Independent State of Samoa.

Tomorrow will be a great day. I am in Apia, and will be participating in celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the former Western Samoa’s independence from foreign rule. I feel a particular connection to the event because New Zealand was Samoa’s former administrator, and I am officially accredited to both nations.

Also, as an American, I have an affinity for independence days. Americans, like Samoans, instinctively understand the importance of empowering citizens to direct their own destiny, to speak freely, to assemble as they wish, and to pray to their Creator as they see fit, without government interference. Independence is not about nationalist rhetoric, it is about personal liberty.

The first of the island territories to regain independence after World War II, Western Samoa — officially renamed in 1997 as the Independent State of Samoa — has been… more »

High-Level Delegation Visits Samoa
Asst. Secretary Campbell, Amb. Huebner, Various Afficials Meet with Samoan Officials [State Dept.]

About the Author: Adrian Pratt serves as Assistant Public Affairs Officer at U.S. Embassy Wellington in New Zealand.

The traveling 3-D (Diplomacy, Defense and Development) party had a full, three-pronged day in Samoa. The delegation headed by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell included Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet; U.S. Agency for International Development Assistant Administrator Nisha Biswal; and Brigadier General Richard Simcock, Principal Director for South and Southeast Asia in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Upon arrival on Sunday evening (after crossing the dateline from Kiribati on Monday), Ambassador David Huebner hosted a dinner reception in honor of the delegation. Distinguished guests included the Deputy Prime Minister Honorable Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo Meredith and Minister of Environment Honorable Faamoetauloa Faale Tumaalii, members of civil society and government, and representatives of… more »