The end of the year — as well as throughout — is a time for contemplative reflection on the impact of our choices and deliberate actions. We do this to see whether we have made a difference or not in the work that we do, either in the classroom, as leaders of others, as a parent or as a member of a community. Years can and do roll by, but experience doesn’t necessarily correlate to improved effectiveness if we do not stop and critically reflect on where we have put our time and energy.
For me, this year was about trialling something different — that didn’t require me ‘to wait for someone to ask me’. It was not about the impact that I can make, but about the impact we can make. It all came about from a cup of coffee (not tea) with a friend who just happens to be a revolutionist (Michelle Johansson). The concept ignited the passion of our lovely Fuatino Leaupepe-Taula, who joined us, and thus formed the committee!
Without a doubt there are pockets of excellence within every school and community, and there are people putting endless amounts of energy into supporting groups of students for whom our system does not adequately provide. For us, that group is our Pasifika students and community. They are our aunties, uncles, cousins, grandparents, our children, our āiga. However, it is not about exclusion but about inclusion. A community that values diversity is one that thrives.
Light the Fire is about people meeting to CELEBRATE successes of our Pasifika people. It is about rejecting deficit theorising — failure is not an option, and valuing Pacific values of service, humility, alofa, humour, respect, academic excellence, and leadership.
This inaugural year of Light the Fire has been highly successful with schools opening their doors to host.*
To give an idea of what we have don, we had four guest speakers this year:
Term 1– Emilie Sila’ila’i, DP at Konini school, inspired us to set not challenging goals but outrageous goals; linked to research from Eric Jensen (Teaching with Poverty in Mind) and John Hattie. A blog of Emilie’s work is on the University of Auckland’s website: Carlos and his outrageous goals.
Term 2 – I provided the five key findings from ERO’S 2013 report: Making Connections for Pasifika success, to align with a case study that I was involved with.
Term 3 – Alfriston College’s new Fijian principal, Robert Solomone introduced his students; from different Pacific nations reflecting on their successes, barriers and aspirations. The values that were epitomised with each story were also complemented by each individual’s culture and identity. A real tear jerker!
Term 4 – The Principal of Rowandale school, Karl Vasau shared his leadership journey with humility and humour.
Each meeting started at 4pm: 30 minutes guest speaker, 30 minutes networking.
Pacific people don’t want to be a problem to be solved, we want to share with you our values and build a collective agency around valuing an individual’s culture, language, and identity. We want this reflected in your curriculum and your pedagogy because what works for Pasifika will work for all, but what works for all doesn’t necessarily work for Pasifika.
So Community, let us hear from you! If you came to a Light the Fire meeting, can you share with us your reflections? Did it ignite a passion for something different in your school? I know another Light the Fire meeting is starting down in Wellington — anywhere else? It would be really great if you could spare a minute and reflect with our community — it might just be the bit of inspiration someone else needs today.
* We would like to thank De La Salle College for Boys, Manurewa High School, Alfriston College and Rowandale Primary School for providing food and a venue, and hosting us with such grace and generosity.