Torrey Pines High School senior visits American Samoa through youth leadership program

Mimi Najmabadi with her Samoan hosts, the Sila family. L-R: Sila (dad), Mimi, Vitale (brother), Bridget (sister) and Mele (mom).
Mimi Najmabadi with the sign of the village where she lived for three weeks.

Michelle (Mimi) Najmabadi, a senior at Torrey Pines High School, was one of 21 participants from the U.S. who participated in the American Youth Leadership Program—Samoa.

The AYLP is fully sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, and the Samoa trip was administered through the University of Wyoming Extension 4H. The trip focused on cultural exchanges and food security. While in Samoa, participants visited plantations and learned about food accessibility in Samoa.

Invited speakers also discussed nutrition in the Samoan lifestyle with the U.S. delegates. The students had an orientation in August in Colorado for team building exercises and to prepare for Samoa, and the actual three-week trip took place in December over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

For the first four days, the group was in the capital, Apia, to learn the language, culture and traditions of Samoa, and also to do community service, including visiting a children’s hospital and an elderly home. Then, the students split off into four villages. Each American student was paired with a Samoan host sibling. Mimi lived with her family for the rest of the trip, and learned in depth about the Samoan lifestyle.

Mimi returned to the U.S. with an appreciation of not only her homeland but love and understanding of the Samoan people, their land, culture and traditions.

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