Why do I write? A common question that has surfaced in the last few months about my stories.
I write because I was born and raised in American Samoa, surrounded and immersed in a rich culture. I write because my children were born and raised in Utah, listening to sporadic stories from their parents and grandparents about growing up in the islands. I write because my children, along with many Pasifika children, hold ancestry in one or more of our Pacific Islander groups, but rarely, if ever, set foot on ancestral lands. I write because these children may not hear or learn of their stories. They may be more familiar with Harry Potter, or anime, or Disney, but they may not know the story of Sina and the eel, Pele and Kamapua'a, Tu'i Tonga's bloodline leading to the gods, or the meaning behind the well-known Maori haka, Ka Mate. I write so our Pasifika children can see themselves in stories, so they, along with others, can have a better understanding of Pacific Islanders, and above all, inspire them to start learning their own stories. Hopefully, they will pick up where I leave off, and continue telling our stories, bridging the gap between their heritage and the new space in which they live.
I was asked to speak about myself at the KUED pre-launch event for PBS's The Great American Read program that officially begins next Tuesday, September 11, 2018. Since I don't do well with impromptu, I wrote this as my introduction. I was then asked how I learned the stories. It's been an ongoing process. I learned some when I was growing up, but I feel like I've learned even more recently, as I research for my books, and because I want to know more.
Lesson of the day: Never stop learning or telling your stories.