Pacific Islander Awareness Month
A celebration of the Polynesian people.
The word Polynesia comes from the Greek word meaning many islands. This definition is appropriate, as Polynesia is made of thousands of small islands that are interconnected by similar traditions and beliefs. The importance of family is one connection that all Polynesians share. Passing on meaningful values to children, respecting the elderly and honoring one’s ancestors are traditions that are still practiced today. To the Polyneisan people, the idea of “family” is not restricted to those with blood ties. It extends to all that embrace these same connections and ideals.
The Utah Polynesian Community
Bringing families together
BYU Athletic Director, Tom Holmoe, was recently asked about his experience with the Polynesian community and their impact in our state. He said, “While at BYU I have been blessed to work with many Polynesian athletes and to meet many of their families. I love the close-knit nature of the Polynesian culture that brings so many families together in raising their children. The strength children receive from their families is always noticeable to me and our community.”
The Importance of Family
“Everyone is Family”
With so many different islands and languages to match, the word “family” can be translated into ohana, whanau, kainga, vuvale, feti’I, or ‘aiga. No matter what language you use, in Polynesia everyone is family. It doesn’t matter if you were born into it, an extended member or adopted…family is family. This is the beauty of the Polynesian people in that they embrace others and make you feel like you are loved and belong.
When children are placed in foster care, they can lose a connection to their family and village of origin. Many times, these children feel like they’re all alone. It becomes difficult for them to build relationships with others, because they feel that nobody understands them. Children in care need families who will treat them like a son, daughter, brother or sister. Sean Reyes, Utah State Attorney General, talked about his own experience growing up in a Polynesian home. “Families are the foundation of what built this state and our country. In Utah, strong families continue to be the bulwark of strength and success in our communities.”
Children in foster care deserve to have the opportunity to be part of somebody’s ohana or ‘aiga.