Highland Rambler

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Highland Rambler

Highland Rambler

Pride in the Pacific

Lien Hoa Torres
Madeleine Hosea (left), Lose Tenifa (middle), and Curly Taulanga (right) perform with the People of the Pacific in Highland’s Multicultural Assembly.

In the recent Multicultural Assembly, the People of the Pacific performed three different routines. Each dance had different cultural aspects because the club members are from different countries in Polynesia. But while the differences were noticeable, one similarity was made abundantly clear —  they all shared a great pride in their heritage.    

The group known as the People of the Pacific recently performed a Tongan dance, a Samoan dance, and a Tahitian dance in the Multicultural Assembly; and every number vibrantly displayed their Polynesian pride.   

The assembly on May 3 was a way for many students to showcase their traditional clothing, music, and dances. Highland students showed up and showed out with routines from the Latinx community, Somalians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and African Americans. This included a traditional Mexican dance style known as folklorico, Native American hoop dancing, and more. These students representing their roots with pride blew the crowd away that day. 

Liuma Mila, Highland Senior, was in all three of the routines in the assembly. She danced alongside some of her best friends; a few of them being Silesitiale Wolfgramm, Lose Tenifa, and Laviana Nonu.  Mila was one of the group’s leaders, taking charge of preparing them for their performances. It was a big responsibility, but she would do it again in a heartbeat because her culture and heritage mean the world to her.  

“Growing up with the ideals and traditions of my culture really helped me find myself in a world of uncertainty,” Mila said. “I love my beautiful culture and our traditions; they make me who I am and I’m so proud to be a Tongan American!” 

The traditional Tongan dance the girls performed is called a ta’ulunga. It is often performed at special events such as parties, weddings, and birthdays. It is done to celebrate and show love to the person or people the event is centered around.  

“We’ve all been dancing pretty much since we were little, it’s something that you learn as you grow up,” Mila said. “Our dances tell a story from the way you move your feet to the way your hands move!”  

Mila has been dancing since she was five years old like most Pacific Islander children. However, this specific group only began dancing together in March. The dances are specific, and the girls dedicated a lot of time to making sure they accurately represented their culture.  

“Tongans and people of the pacific in general are amazing people. We have so much to offer not only through dance but through our beautiful languages, athleticism, and academic talent,” Mila said. “As minorities we need to be vigilant on representation because our people are amazing, and we deserve the recognition!” 

Pacific Islanders know how to represent their culture and love doing so. Their dancing isn’t just the movement of the body, it’s the telling of stories. They can represent their ancestral pride in their language, clothing, and history. They hold their values close to their hearts and this group of girls – Mila, Wolfgramm, Tenifa, and Nonu – all hope to leave a positive legacy at Highland when they graduate this month. 


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