'Teine Samoa' shines light on diaspora life

By Tina Mata'afa-Tufele 23 September 2020, 4:00PM

‘Teine Samoa,’ a young adult story igniting new conversations about what it means to be a Samoan girl navigating life between two cultures while living in the diaspora is launching next month. 

Author Dahlia Malaeulu told the Samoa Observer she is very excited about the 10 October launch of ‘Teine Samoa,’ a book she wrote while in lockdown in New Zealand.

“I am so excited to share our book with the world and to encourage others to share their stories in order for us collectively as Pasifika to be seen, heard and valued,” Malaeulu said.

“I see this book in the hands of our parents and aiga (family) to help ignite some much needed conversations about the challenges of being part of the Samoan diaspora and the support [that is] needed.

The story follows the journey of discovery of four junior high school students, their families, their teachers and, most importantly, anyone who has ever faced the challenges of being a Samoan girl.

‘Teine Samoa’ has been well received by schools, educators and a whole range of people from around the globe, Malaeulu said.

One mother in Los Angeles, California, United States, wrote to Malaeulu and said the book sparked new conversations, laughter and tears between her and her daughter.

"I bought the e-book for my daughter and since both reading it we've had some awesome conversations about our Samoan culture and identity as well as the challenges we have both faced – a real mix of laughter and tears," the Los Angeles mother wrote.

Malaeulu said the best feedback has been from educators who said that they wished that there were books like ‘Teine Samoa’ when they were growing up. 

"[The] reasons they gave were to help themselves, as Pasifika, to better understand themselves and challenges they face," she said. 

“We’ve had such positive feedback from the e-book and from a whole range of people, students, parents and educators from around the world who are Samoan, Pasifika and non-Pasifika,” Malaeulu said. 

:They have all shared their connections with elements of the story. I’ve found that although the details may be different, for many of our Samoan readers I’ve found it really is our story.”

In the paperback’s final section, there are 14 stories from real life ‘Teine Samoa’ writers of all ages – from an intermediate school student to educators.

Malaeulu approached the women to be included in ‘Teine Samoa’ between July and August of 2020.

“Seven students and seven educators contributed to the Teine Samoa Project which is the final section of the book,” she said.  

“I had previously heard all fourteen contributing authors’ stories as ex-students or colleagues or educational leaders within our Pasifika educator community so I already knew how powerful their stories were and that they reflected many of our people’s experiences.”

“All contributing authors are based in the Wellington region except one who is currently residing and teaching in Samoa.”

Belonging, acceptance and cultural understanding underpin all their stories, Malaeulu notes. 

Schools are contacting her from around New Zealand asking for the book.

“I’ve had high schools contact me from around New Zealand asking if there will be more coming and when the paperback will be launched,” she said.

“A non-Pasifika teacher even emailed me explaining how a student shared the e-book with her and it gave her an insight to the cultural world of her Samoan students and the dual realities so many of us [...] live in.”

By Tina Mata'afa-Tufele 23 September 2020, 4:00PM

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