FARMINGTON — As part of a Four Corners tour, government officials from the Independent State of Samoa visited Mesa View Middle School Wednesday to thank two students for their interest in the country.

The Samoan Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia, along with Ministry of Education members and two Samoan high chiefs spoke to students in Kierra Smith's language arts class before taking a tour of the school.

Two students, Wuaneisha Bedah and Raeann Knight, had an opportunity to meet Elisaia last year when he visited the area. Bedah's father, Willard Light, set up the meeting and had asked the students to reach out to classmates for questions.

"He wanted us to get questions from our social studies class to interview (Elisaia) and we would report back to our classes," Bedah said.

Bedah and Knight asked 10 questions each, covering topics their classmates were interested in like what the beaches were like, how the school system worked and how their houses looked.

Knight was surprised that the officials visited the school providing an opportunity for sharing information.

"Amazed, I think that's one of the words I would say," Knight said. "We got to learn about how other countries and cultures work."

Assistant principal Dave Gardner said Elisaia wanted to thank the girls publicly for their interest in Samoa and wanted to acknowledge them.

"It was a great educational opportunity to meet someone from another country like that," Gardner said.

Elisaia spoke to the Smith's class in the library along with the Minister of Education Magele Mauiliu Magele and CEO of the Ministry of Education Matafeo Falana'pupu Tanielu Aiafi.

During his time, Elisaia spoke about his work as Ambassador to the United States and the U.N., talking about his time working from his office in New York City.
Representatives from the Independent State of Samoa visit Mesa View Middle School students on Wednesday, April 18, 2013, and teach them a clapping exercise
Representatives from the Independent State of Samoa visit Mesa View Middle School students on Wednesday, April 18, 2013, and teach them a clapping exercise used in Samoan schools. (Jenny Kane/The Daily Times)

Magele and Aiafi talked about the history of Samoa, sharing how the independent state separated from New Zealand in 1962, and described their education system.

Gardner gave a tour of the school to the visitors, answering questions along the way about curriculum and student demographics.

High Chief Seupule Seupule said he was surprised by the differences between the American and Samoan schools, especially building size.

"(It's) way different from our country, you have big and nice facilities over here," Seupule said. "(In) Samoa, it's small buildings and small classrooms. It's way different."

Learning about technology use in the classroom was an critical part of the tour, Aiafi said.

"We are very grateful to have this opportunity to be exposed to the learning and teaching from this school," Aiafi said. "We can take back (the) best practices to our own country to improve our teaching and learning of our students."

During a tour of a school in Cortez, Colo., on Wednesday, Aiafi said he was impressed by the use of high-tech equipment like laptops and computerized dry-erase boards.

"We see the role of technology as a very effective way to improve student's learning," Aiafi said.

Joshua Kellogg can be reached at; 505-564-4627. Follow him on Twitter @jkelloggdt.