"I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be"
Yes they are the lyrics to the Whitney Houston song 'The greatest love of all". So why am I including them in today's blog? I am including them because yesterday we saw a video of Pacific Island girls beating up on another girl at a train station blasted across the media. I am including it because our Pacific youth of today are being brought up in a country where they are a minority. A country where they can't always watch TV and see a brown skinned person selling them a product. A country where they don't have a connection to the language or culture of their forefathers.
Growing up in Australia I didn't see the value of learning the Samoan language. I gave my mum a hard time if she tried to teach me. There were no schools available to teach me Samoan in Melbourne. I felt disengaged from my Samoan heritage as well as from my Australian friends. I was in a land of limbo you could say, confused and angry. I skipped school, I stole, I disrespected my mother, I drank alcohol while underage, I got into fights at school and I even ran away from home. However, I was lucky to have family and friends to guide me in a direction where I was able to get an education and realise my potential. I went to university, I even lived in Samoa for nine years! This is where I gained a greater understanding of Samoa and where I was able to find my own identity. Not the identity of the gangs in the movies. Not the identity of the Kardashians, but a Samoan woman who grew up in Australia, me.
A large part of this knowledge came from learning the Samoan culture. I am so happy to see today there is an accredited school in Melbourne that teaches not only Samoan, but also Tongan language and dance. The Polynesian Kids Community Language School are the first Polynesian language school to be accredited in Australia, not just Melbourne but in all of Australia! There are tens of thousands of Samoans living in Australia, yet we only have one accredited language school? That makes no sense to me. As Samoans we should be showing our pride and supporting initiatives such as this school who are making the effort to teach our children not only language and dance, but a sense of pride for who they are.
The Samoan language, gagana Samoa, is part of the Samoan culture, it is measina a Samoa, a treasure of Samoa. As we endeavour to share the treasures of Samoa with the world, we are proud to support the Polynesian Kids Community Language School by selling their t-shirts and aprons here in our store. There are lovely t-shirts for babies, kids and adults as well as a range of aprons with Tongan and Samoan sayings.
As Whitney sang, "the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way". Help keep our Samoan and Tongan cultures alive in our future generations by supporting the Polynesian Kids Community Language School today!
For more information on the Polynesian Kids Community Language School please visit http://polynesiankids.org.au or call 0410 152 835