Turning Pacific Islanders into scholars

By Jacqueline Robinson - Staff Reporter

The Pacific Islander Club aims to create a sense of family and welcome within the student population.

The culturally-focused club was initiated during last Spring Quarter and has been a pillar for a group of students that needs an academically supportive atmosphere, the club president said.

"A lot of PI [Pacific Islander] students come to school and just drop out," said Fuifui Ah Kuoi, the president of the Pacific Islander Club.

Club members try to reach out and connect with its students who are not coming to school, she said.

"Some students have to take a break from school because of work or family responsibilities. They get caught up in other obligations and don't come back," Ah Kuoi said. "We want to stay connected to them and make sure they come back when they can."

There are some common negative stereotypes about Pacific Islander students and the club is proving them wrong, she said.

"Some stereotypes about PI students are that they are drop outs, slackers or only good at sports. Some PI students listen to that and it brings them down," Ah Kuoi said. "But our club is about balance. It's not just about focusing on socializing; we also help each other on academics."

The premise of this club is to learn and share, she said.

"We learn about our culture together and share our passion for our culture with the campus and the community," Ah Kuoi said.

One of the ways the club is sharing it's culture is through dance, she said.

"We perform island dances on campus. Next quarter we are performing at the Club Involvement Fair on Jan. 12," Ah Kuoi said.

During their weekly, meetings the club is focused on a variety of things.

"We have opening prayer, announcements for student resources, ice breakers, games, [and] study hall," she said. "Every week we have a presentation about a different island. The last 30 minutes of the meeting we dance to practice for our performances. Sometimes we have potlucks, karaoke and birthday celebrations."

The club has big plans for the next few quarters, Ah Kuoi said.

"We are planning on having t-shirts for our club, having guest speakers come and speak to our students, crafts from our culture, fundraisers, bake sales and a talent show," she said.

The group is also planning volunteer projects, she said.

"We want to volunteer as a group with nursing homes, food banks and possibly do performances at different places," Ah Kuoi said.

The adviser for the club, Nestor Enguerra, who works as the Retention Specialist for the AANAPISI program, always supports the club members, Ah Kuoi said.

"He helps us connect with resources, updates us on scholarship information, gives us ideas on how to expand the club, and advises us on how to transfer to a four-year college" she said. "And he always hooks us up with food."

The club currently has about 20 members and a number of students who come, but are not consistent members.

Ah Kuoi encourages everybody to join, not just Pacific Islander students.

"Everyone is welcome no matter what color skin you are. The club meetings are over for the quarter, but the Pacific Islander Club will start back up next quarter," she said.

The club is in the process of booking its future club location, Ah Kuoi said.

The club will meet next quarter on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., she said.

"The building and room may change so go to CLS [Center for Leadership and Service] for updates," Ah Kuoi said.

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