Cheyenne Yap, Staff Writer
For many students, freshman year is a time when one attempts to find where they belong. For students, entering college is a whole new world. For some, the transition is quite difficult, especially when coming from thousands of miles away.
Many Pacific Islanders who are traveling from far away, associate themselves with the Pacific Islanders Club (Pac-I) on campus.
The mission of the club is to provide a home or sense of community for Pac-I students, and to educate the Saint Martin’s community about their cultures. For the past three years, Pac-I has been a welcoming and family-oriented presence on campus. The club has always made a huge effort to welcome students of all backgrounds, and makes sure that everyone’s culture is represented equally.
“We try to focus on being a family, we don’t really consider ourselves a club, but whenever we address our members at any event we say, ‘hi family!’” shared Jan Trinity Francisco.
Francisco, Vaoleleiamanuialoualaga Tuvalu, and Dehara Luther, have all been actively involved with Pac-I this year, and have high hopes for the club’s future. They are all currently officers in the Pac-I club; Francisco as president, Tuvalu as Secretary and Luther as public relations officer.
Francisco, Tuvalu and Luther shared their favorite part of their position in Pac-I. Francisco explained how happy it makes her when she sees members connect with each other and open up over the course of the year. Tuvalu finds motivation in her leadership position through the freshman.
“My favorite part of my leadership position is being the person that underclassmen can look up to, once the freshman class came in – I didn’t expect a lot of students from the Pacific Islands…we were able to form bonds with the freshman. They give me the motivation to stick with the stress and just keep going and make everything possible for them,” said Tuvalu.
Francisco, Tuvalu and Luther first heard about Pac-I club during their freshman year. Luther mentioned that she heard of Pac-I at the involvement fair during her freshman year, and is so glad that she did. It was this club that inspired Tuvalu to get involved on campus. Tuvalu’s family lives in Yelm, so it is nice to have Pacific Islander family here at Saint Martin’s.
She further explained that because of the club, she feels at home. They were all in agreement that Pac-I has helped them with their transition from their home to Saint Martin’s University.
They proceeded to mention their favorite memories from the club. Luther, the Public Relations officer of Pac-I, quickly answered that being an “honorary Samoan” was one of her favorite memories.
“I’m always surrounded by people from American Samoa…they influence their culture into mine, and I influence my culture into theirs… It fuses together. We learn something new about each other,” said Luther.
Tuvalu and Francisco explained how they enjoyed the aspect of seeing everyone learn the cultural dances, as well as the dance practices.
Francisco, Tuvalu and Luther want the Saint Martin’s community to know that the Pac-I club is open to everyone. They are always open to new members.
The Pacific Islander Club has a few upcoming events for the rest of the year. One event in March will promote the club and educate the public about the different cultures that are represented in the club. There is also an off-campus event on Apr. 17, at Faith Lutheran Church. It will be their second annual Legacy Event called “Pacifica Night,” and there will be transportation provided. You can find their club page on Instagram @smu_pacificislandersclub.