The Governor General of Australia, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce visited the Samoa Campus during her recent visit to the Samoa. She visited a few locations within the campus which included the Fabrication and Welding workshop followed by the Plumbing workshop. She then visited the Visions restaurant to meet up with the Hospitality students and followed into the kitchen to meet the Cookery students.
All the students gathered up at the Visions restaurant to meet Her Excellency. In her comments she complimented APTC on its work in the Pacific and especially in Samoa. She also complimented about the students' hard work and professionalism, and she encouraged them to continue to make the most of the employment opportunities this training would provide.
Her Excellency, during this gathering took a moment to present the Group Bravery award to Michael Moller, Mark Rowheder, a Samoan rescuer and a Tokelauan rescuer, for their selfless bravery in rescuing a New Zealand woman who had been swept out past the reef in 2009 at Lolomanu beach.
For this special gathering, APTC Samoa invited a few other respected guest which included the:
- Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific and Foreign Affairs - The Honourable Richard Marles
- Australian High Commissioner for Samoa - Dr Stephen Henningham
- Minister for Education- The Honourable Magele Magele
- Vice Chancellor of National Univesity of Samoa - Professor Asofou So'o
- Deputy Vice Chancellor of National Univesity of Samoa - Dr Emma Kruse Va'ai
- Samoan APTC Advisory Group representative - Seiuli Paul Wallwork
Her Excellency had also spoken to the Samoan Parliament earlier in the day, being the first foreigner to do so in 30 years, whereby she mentioned about the importance of education.
"Education lies at the very heart of our links with Samoa. A strong education system is vital for every country. The roots of the world's best-performing economies, and richest cultures, are found in education", she said.
"Every year, dozens of talented Samoans study in Australia under the Australia Awards scheme, or as private students. Prominent Samoans who have completed their tertiary education in Australia includeyour Deputy Prime Minister, Governor of the Central Bank of Samoa and Vice Chancellor of the National University of Samoa."
"The bonds that Samoan students make in our country, and the qualifications they gain, will benefit both nations for decades to come - a very wise investment in the future."
Her Excellency further said, "Education is also about lifelong learning. It is about equipping students with skills needed to face the future. Australia's support of the Australian Pacific Technical College, since it started in 2008, has enabled 440 Samoan students to graduate with the skills needed to work in tourism and light industry. This has brought real benefits to Samoa's economy and will benefit Samoa for many years to come.
It was a wonderful experience led by Her Excellency's warmth between the invited guests, students and staff.
To conclude, Ms Francis Howes, the Country Manager for APTC Samoa, received comments from the students. Some of them had never met a Head of State of their own country and were delighted with Her Excellency's presence.
They said they privileged by Her Excellency's visit as it was a witness to APTC's achievements and the Australian government's initiative. It made them realise that what we are learning at APTC is serious and important and it brings in to show that that APTC is bringing the Pacific together.