In Love with my Island Home
“There are no foreign lands, it is the traveller only who is foreign.” Robert Louis Stevenson
They say “East or West, Home is the best.” Home is where everything begins for all of us.
It is where we find love, warmth and happiness. I am Taulote Jinhee Tupato Toto, 9 years old from the beautiful villages of Saipipi and Sataua on the big island of Savaii, the place I call “home”.
I am the eldest child out of my parents’ two children. I am named after my father’s older sister, Taulote, who was named after my great-great-grandmother, from the village of Saipipi. My father is half-Korean so that means I have some Asian blood in me.
Despite being born in American Samoa, my parents and I moved back to Saipipi where we currently reside, when I was just two years old. I don’t remember much about my life in American Samoa and what it was like. I don’t consider that as my home.
I inherited my father’s genes and therefore I look more Asian than Samoan. Growing up, people would call me all sorts of names which made me feel like an outsider, like I did not belong here in Samoa. They would call me. “Keige Kolea”, “Kama’i Saina” and all other names.
I have straight hair, unlike many of my cousins with thick, black and curly Samoan hair. And even though I don’t speak Korean, my physical appearance gave people the impression that I am a foreigner. I recently learned about the meaning of the word, “foreigner” and I find that it is fitting to describe what I had been feeling growing up on my own land, village and family. I felt like an outsider.
However, with the strong support of my parents and relatives, I have come to realise that I let what people say get to my head. I have learned to remember who I am and what I am. I am not the only person in Samoa or in Savaii with mixed blood running through our veins. I love my island home of Savaii. I am not a foreigner in my own home of Savaii. My chinky eyes and straight hair will not and never will make me feel like I am an outsider.
There is no place I would rather be than here in Savaii with my parents, my naughty little brother and many cousins. I may not look like the rest of my cousins but I am a proud product of this land and I will always be proud to call this island my home. I love the simple life we have here in Savaii. My father works hard on his plantations and cattle farm to provide for us. My mother works at our primary school and they both work so hard to make sure we get everything we need in life and push us to do well in school. I hope to embrace my Asian side when I grow up, as for now, I am in love with my island home and who I am as a Samoan. As the famous writer, Robert Louis Stevenson once said, "There are no foreign lands, it is the traveller only who is foreign."
Taulote Jinhee Tofa, Year 4, Saipipi Primary School
• Editor's Note: The Samoa Observer ran the wrong photo with this literary piece by Taulote Jinhee Tofa. The correct photo has now been used with the story. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.
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