Ngalu e Tolu | Class of 2001
'Anapesi Ka'ili is a transnational Tongan American raised both in Tonga and Utah. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Utah State University, a Master of Arts in Education with an emphasis on Bilingual and Multicultural Education from Northern Arizona University and is completing her PhD in the Department of Education, Culture and Society at the University of Utah, where she teaches in the Ethnic Studies Department. 'Anapesi has conducted research in Utah, Arizona, & California in the areas of Pacific Island Pedagogy, History and Epistemology, Native Languages and Cultural Identities, and Pacific Island Diaspora, Migration, and Transnationalism. Her current Doctoral research explores the experiences of Pacific Islander students in higher education and the ways in which they navigate academic success in predominantly white educational institutions. She continues to serve in many educational and political boards and committees (locally and nationally) representing her Pacific Island community. ‘Anapesi organizes and leads one of the largest global grassroots Pacific Island youth liberation movements called the H.Y.P.E. Movement (Helping Youth Pursue Emancipation).
How has NAPALI Leadership contributed in your profession?
When I attend NAPALI, I was just finishing up my undergraduate degree and was still undecided about what I wanted to do at that point in my life. NAPALI helped to shape my consciousness and choices in regards to how I wanted to contribute to our Pacific Island community. Through NAPALI I was able to connect with incredible colleagues and mentors, who played a significant role in my academic journey. I am extremely grateful for my aunty ‘Ivoni Malohifo’ou Nash of the National Tongan American Society, who believed in my potential and nominated me for NAPALI. My relationship with the organizers of NAPALI, offered me the opportunity to nominate over 25 community leaders from Utah alone to participate in this incredible experience.
Thinking back to your NAPALI experience, what was the most prolific thing you learned?
I will never forget the words of one of our NAPALI elders, Emil Wolfgramm, who said: “Salvation is not in the hardware but in the traditional software. Our systems can be refined, our practices can be modified, but our cultural values are what will sustain us.” This was one of the most important lessons I learned in NAPALI. It acknowledged the wisdom of our elders and the sacrifices of our ancestors. It was a reminder of our cultural responsibilities to one another, the larger community and to the rest of the world.
One of the most inspiring experiences I had during NAPALI was a conversation I had with the late Clint Helenihi, who saw that as one of the youngest members of the group, I seemed a bit overwhelmed with everything I had learned that week. He pulled me aside and asked if I was okay and how I was feeling about everything. I didn’t know how to respond, I just cried, because I had learned so much and I wanted to do so much but wasn’t sure where to start. He simply smiled at me and said “Anapesi, I promise you that you are going to be successful in anything you do; open your heart and mind to the call, and when that call comes, and I promise you it will come, embrace it and give it all you got!” I have followed his advice in everything that I have been involved in and have been blessed tremendously.
How can NAPALI help those who are interested in serving their respective Pacific American communities?
NAPALI equips you with the tools, the resources, and the networking needed in order for you to continue serving and building your respective communities.
If you were recruiting a potential NAPALI fellow, what would you tell them about NAPALI?
I have attended many leadership conferences here in the United States and outside of the United States and no leadership conference has impacted and inspired me more than NAPALI. It is a must attend for anyone who is serious about leadership, service, and empowerment.
Date: July 10-18, 2014
If you are an individual who has demonstrated leadership abilities, who has a proven record in community work to improve the lives of Pacific Americans and other indigenous people, and is well-versed in public policies and contemporary issues affecting Pacific Americans, the NAPALI leadership course can take your leadership skills to the next level.
Click here for more information on the next NAPALI course
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