President Obama chooses young Samoan woman

13 January 2019, 12:00AM

A Sociology Lecturer at the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.), Tahere Siisiialafia, has been chosen as a global leader by the former President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Ms. Siisiialafia, was one of six Pacific Islanders selected as the first cohort of Obama Leaders by the Obama Foundation for the Asia-Pacific Leaders programme in 2019. 

She met the former American President during a workshop the Foundation hosted in Hawaiʻi January 4-7, featuring 21 leaders from 16 countries and territories across the Asia Pacific. 

Ms. Siisiialafia and the young leaders engaged in leadership development sessions and hands-on design workshops to help guide the Foundation’s future programming.

The former President addressed the group.

“[The Asia Pacific] is a place of tremendous diversity and natural resources and rising economic and political power, and it’s also a very young region,” said President Obama, speaking in Hawai’i.

 “So today, I’m pleased to announce that this year we’re going to bring our next regional leaders program here in the Asia Pacific just as we did in South Africa.”

President Obama also participated in a session during the workshop with the leaders, hearing directly from them about the hard and soft skills they need to strengthen and develop, the support they need to amplify and accelerate their impact, and key issues such as climate change, human rights, and good governance that should be addressed in the Asia-Pacific Leaders program.

 “You talk to [these leaders] and you will be reminded about how much talent and energy these young people have, this generation has, and how ready they are to get moving building even bigger, more impactful organizational efforts than they’re already doing,” President Obama added. 

“And I’ve also heard more than once from them about the value of connecting to one another, how they’re sharing ideas, making relationships, and building the type of movements that can move the world forward.”

 “Part of what we’re going to be trying to do with the Obama Foundation is…to promote a values-based approach to leadership development, because we believe that real leadership involves dialogue and inclusion and tolerance and a commitment to human dignity, that if you don’t get that right, whatever technical solutions you come up with are going to end up failing,” President Obama said.

Ms. Siisiialafia has been involved in community development since her early adolescent years, a passion that was fostered by her Bahai Faith. 

She is currently the Chairperson for the Pacific Youth Council and often uses a variety of regional and global platforms to advocate for youth development in the Pacific region.

 “Intergenerational connection is powerful, and for me seeing beliefs and traditions passed down from mother to daughter, generation to generation is a great example of the approach I value so much about my work,” she said.

13 January 2019, 12:00AM

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