This week, I had the privilege of being invited to speak with a group of national Pasifika librarians during their lunchtime session at their biannual LIANZA or NZ Library/Librarians Association conference.

Thanks to Richie, one of the library managers and conference coordinators, it was neat to have the opportunity to share my story about the background to my writing with the chance to share some of my poetry and I also gave away a couple of books (my koha or gift to communities).

When considering what to speak about for the session, I thought about how in each of us, I believe, have been given a dream, a God-thing, I call it and with innate talents and skills that go with it. For some, it’s being great at sports or public speaking or the ability to design or bake, etc. So at midnight before my lunchtime session, I began to work on my powerpoint presentation (as I couldn’t find my usual one) and called it ‘The power of a dream’.

For me, growing up, I enjoyed reading, writing, and art to the extent that it stood out in the different schools and classes that I attended. The support that I had with my parents, although often challenging, was immense in that we were all trailblazing as none had walked in the shoes that we were all pioneering as children of immigrants and first-generation Samoans living in NZ.

The power of the dream for me was about my first love of creating art and enjoying reading and writing. My parents were the influencers that supported my dream even with the strict upbringing as  Presbyterians (my dad’s interpretation) of no TV on Sundays when all the other kids would talk about watching Disneyland. I had to either read the bible, do my homework or relax and just read – something that I got pretty good at.

Education was very important in our family as my parents saw it as a ‘way out’ of succeeding in the new society and there were no excuses given to us for not achieving. They just believed that we could! And so I got quite competitive at school and even into University with a Masters degree at the age of 24 and dashing towards a Ph.D. degree (which I’m still working on 🙂

But that wasn’t the dream, even though I landed pretty good jobs along the way as a secondary school English teacher, Teacher librarian, Produced and Directed school plays, Coached the Dragonboat team, Dean, Education contracts etc. and started climbing up the ranks of an education career, I knew it wasn’t the dream having left my dream on the back burner.

That was until, in 2015, I had that neat life-changing conversation with the amazing Maria Fastnedge (earlier blogs) on the 23rd of January 2015. That conversation changed my life and I was back on track to the dream of creating books (reading and writing) and drawing, designing and/or painting the illustrations for our them. Since then there’s been no looking back.

I hope I was able to inspire some librarians not to give up their jobs (haha – as it pays the bills) but to check if they felt a ‘niggle’ about a dream that they each might have had growing up. I shared the story of counting 12 young men and 1 young woman that I had come across as a teacher/dean as I ended up seeing them in Mt Eden prison when I accompanied my then-fiance (now beloved) on our monthly visits. I know that it wasn’t their dream to be there but that they had somehow lost their way and hopefully they’ve each been able to found themselves in a better place now.

I suppose for me it was also about never giving up and having the tenacity to ‘roll with the punches’ or to learn from the different spaces that I found myself in. An example was that sometimes as an English teacher I often reflected on how it wasn’t what I really wanted to do but later realized that the background that I was afforded as an English teacher helped me to learn how to craft poems and plays, to be able to write novels, essays, prose, etc.

If left me feeling very grateful and thankful to God for my parents, the life lessons that I had learned along the way and hopefully as I give back in my community/ies, through the books or speaking engagements, I’ll also be paying it forward for someone else who has a dream…