Dear Parents and Caregivers I hope you and your family have remained safe and dry…
On Wednesday, 13 July, I and six other Year 12 Pasifika students (Josh Burte, Fern Fuimaono, Shantel Leota, , Sam Price, India Smith and Akira Vakawaletabua) headed out to The University of Auckland, Epsom Campus and attended PILOT (Pacific Island Leaders Of Tomorrow). A day which was dedicated to furthering our leadership skills. We were joined by many other Pasifika students from schools around Auckland.
Polynesian Architect, John (Chonny) Belford-Lelaulu, was a guest speaker. John talked about how he found his passion and purpose: serving people and architecture. This inspired him to become a humanitarian architect. He travelled to places like New York, and the Philippines, where he helped build homeless shelters and villages. He talked about how he was the only Pasifika person in his class whilst he was studying architecture and he felt as though he didn’t fit in. It wasn’t until his last year where he embraced who he was and incorporated his culture into his work when he ended up graduating first in his class. He now encourages and helps other Pasifika students study architecture.
After John’s inspiring speech we split into groups, where we were mixed in with other schools. We went to different workshops. Some of the workshops were about entering tertiary schools, scholarships, managing stress and identity. My favourite workshop was when all of the girls got together and were given a prompt; “what is your brand?”. What do we represent? Who are we? What do we stand for? This sparked a beautiful conversation where we all shared things about ourselves and what we stand for as Young Pasifika Women. Family, friends, self-love, culture, diversity and equality were just some of the things we discussed. It saddened me to hear some of the girls express how they felt underrepresented and ‘pushed to the side’, someone had even been silenced at their school. This made me realise how lucky I was to go to such an inclusive school like Rutherford, where we have many cultural groups and appreciation for culture and diversity. We ended the day by singing a song together. The day motivated me to try my best to become a role model for my Pasifika Brothers and Sisters not only at our school but outside of school.
Aleesha Fa’atea 12HC
A Future Strong Female PILOT