Protecting Pacific communities
"Growing up in American Samoa and identifying as a Samoan woman set a clear path for me from the day I stepped foot on Stanford’s campus,” said Cher Nomura, BS ‘22. “Despite the fact that our sustainable cultural practices and ways of living in American Samoa emit less than 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gasses, we experience severely disproportionate impacts of climate change.”
At Stanford, Nomura has dedicated her studies to public service and environmental education in order to one day serve her community and others in the Pacific Islands. She is currently focused on understanding how cultural learning intersects with environmental education and community engagement.
“I study things like Indigenous impact assessment – how these groups measure the impacts of development projects on tribal lands,” Nomura said. “Indigenous peoples need to have agency in environmental decision-making.”
During her time in the Bay Area, Nomura has helped support the North Fair Oaks (NFO) community, a low-income, unincorporated area between Redwood City and Menlo Park. Nomura has worked closely with residents, helping them become more resilient to climate change impacts by improving community engagement and representation, emergency preparedness, and safety and well-being.
Back home, she hopes to one day create environmental education programs that bridge traditional cultural practices with science by “utilizing the teachings of Samoan elders and practitioners,” she said.
“Someday I’ll return to American Samoa – to the land and oceans that raised me,” Nomura said. “When I do, I want to encourage Samoan youth to recognize the significance of learning and applying our cultural practices in all aspects of life, in hopes that they return to serve their people in the face of climate change and all that it threatens.”