Our Stories vs “Their Stories”

10429400_895130937242623_7467875969734567208_nBy Sina Uipi

Last week, we continued another great session of POTOPOTO ‘A NIU MUI. The theme was still the same, which was to explore our aka (roots), but this time we had a different proverb, which was fifi ika vale. It means to not waste energy and time on something that is not of any importance or contribution to your life. We had the majority of folks come back from the first session, and had some new ones join us as well.

In the photo above, there are maps of Tonga and Samoa behind us on the wall. It was a mapping exercise that was apart of telling our migration stories, our REAL stories. The stories that don’t get told enough, the ones that have been neglected and replaced by “THEIR” stories, or stereotypes that have defined us since we left our homelands. It was time to bring these narratives back to life again, and realize there is power in it to begin conversations about how we are countering or perpetuating “their” stories. It was time to envision the type of community we want for ourselves, a much better one than the one we have now.

FAB members Jane Hafoka and Kelepi Ahoia wanted to share their thoughts about this session. Check it out!

12239700_895130630575987_8701729543324584505_nBy Jane Hafoka

My very first thought walking into last week’s session was, “I wonder which new members I’ll meet today”. Meeting new people has always been something I enjoyed, especially when we share common goals and think about things along the same lines. I saw a few familiar faces as I walked in and a smile crept onto my face. These interactions are one of my favorite things to do at our sessions. I’m naturally very quiet at first, but attending these meetings have definitely helped me open up more. In other words, the icebreakers really help to break the ice before the session begins, and all the other activities just flow well together from there. I thoroughly enjoy learning more about my Tongan culture. There is so much that I didn’t know and probably would have never learned if it weren’t for these FAB sessions.  I liked  introducing myself in Tongan and telling my migration story. We’ve only just begun, but I look forward to the future of building community in this space and what it has to offer.

12227186_895130783909305_3219036782457500893_nBy Kelepi Ahoia

This session was really moving for me and we had a great turnout. We had the opportunity to introduce ourselves in Tongan, which included introducing our siblings, our parents, and the villages they’re from. We are never just identified as ourselves, we are always representing our families and histories when we meet new people. It is the proper way to introduce oneself because there is always a chance of an elder or someone of nobility or royalty that may be present in the room. So this is good practice to be prepared for something like that.


Afterwards, we told our migration stories,  and I realized how important it is for us to accept  each other with open arms from the struggles that many of us fought through and are still getting through.


We were able to find out what our leadership styles are based on our personality traits. There were four different types; the Get It Done (North), the Visionary (East), the Nurturer (South), and the Analyst (West). I learned that I am a Nurturer; someone who is friendly, likeable, a team player, allows others to feel important, etc. Our task was to envision the type of a community we want that breaks down stereotypical ideologies as well as the discrimination we face in our own community. Regardless of church, religion, or ethnic background, we are all Pacific Islanders with the dream to become successful and further influence our community to grow. This space allows us to recognize what is worth nourishing our time. We ended this session knowing that labels are nothing but a sticker we can peel off to focus on retelling our history to build a better future for the next generation.