Pacific NW News
The Pacific Island Women’s Association (PIWA) formally released their report Voices of Pacific Island Women Residing in the Pacific Northwest: Reflections on Health, Economics, Education and More in a recent celebration in Seattle, Washington. The report reflects three years of collaboration and research “to identify and address critical issues facing the Pacific Islander community in the Northwest.” It also addresses the need for Pacific Islanders in the United States to be disaggregated from the Asian-Pacific Islander (API) category in order to be heard and counted. The 2000 U.S. Census identified 874,414 Pacific Islanders in the U.S. and even though Native Hawaiians are separated out, many states still lump other Pacific Islanders with Asians. Washington State, with 42,761 Pacific Island residents, has made attempts to collect data separately, but it has not always been consistent.
So far, PIWA has identified the following island homelands in the Northwest: American Samoa, Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Federated State of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawai`i, New Zealand, Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and Tonga. To add your Pacific Island voice and to find out more, go to www.pacificislandwomen.org. or write c/o 10237 16th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98148.
By Melissa Ponder
Long-time community advocate Sili Savusa is running for the District 1 seat on the Highline School Board.
It’s been almost 15 years since I first heard of Sili and her work in and on behalf of Samoan, Pacific Islander, and other communities. When a mutual friend asked if I was interested in helping out with the campaign, I gladly joined the Sili Savusa Fan Club aka the Sili Savusa for Highline School Board campaign committee. Other fans include: Dow Constantine, Ruth Dickey, Theresa Fujiwara, Larry Gossett, Lua Pritchard, Tom Slattery, Mengstab Tzegai, Dave Upthegrove, and Rob Watt (all co-hosts for Sili’s Kick Off Party on June 14).
Sili works from her heart, from her gut, and uses her mind. Sili is concerned not only for her own children: Puao, Pulemau & Vaeagi (who attend White Center Heights Elementary and Denny Middle School ). She is concerned not only for Samoan or other Pacific Islander children, but for ALL children. She fully understands the struggles and barriers that many of our children face. Sili is familiar firsthand with the educational system and available resources. She understands that schools, families, and communities must collaborate so that our children can genuinely be proud of who they are at home in school and succeed as students.
Sili comes “… from a culture that is relational, based on respect for a people. I believe that we need to build relationships that help to strengthen the school system and affirm our children… we need to acknowledge how our children bring a cultural perspective based on historical norms where our communities have already developed their own “best practices” which have helped to maintain thriving communities for centuries.”
Sili was born and raised in Seattle to Lea & Fagalupe Mana`o who moved to Seattle from American Samoa in 1956. Her own sense of obligation stems from her parents’ dedication to community service. Sili’s parents assisted other Samoans who relocated to Seattle by taking them into their home, connecting them to basic family resources, jobs, and more. Sili’s father Lea initiated the development of the National Samoan Chiefs Council and she often helped facilitate much of the Council’s work by connecting the Pacific Islander community to available resources. Sili’s skills, knowledge, and passion led to the Council’s decision to make her a Chief when she was 25.
Sili & her husband Taliga of 14 years moved to White Center in 1996 when she almost immediately became involved with the Highline School District . She currently serves as chairperson for Community Schools Partners for Highline, which she helped found. Sili is also a member of the Highline Superintendent’s Advisory Council, South Seattle Community College Asian and Pacific Islander Advisory Council, People’s Institute Northwest, and has actively contributed to the Asian-Pacific Islander Childcare Task Force and Pacific Islander Women’s Association.
To support Sili or for more information, please visit her blog at http://siliforschoolboard.blogspot.com or call 206-419-0717. Sili’s Campaign Kickoff Party is on June 14th, 2007 from 5:30-7pm at the Taqueria Del Rio in White Center, $25 suggested donation.
Melissa Ponder of Des Moines is parent to Highline SD students Truman and Kim Ponder-Bader and Bellevue SD students Serena and Vanessa, and partner to Vance Bader of Hilo.
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