Pasefika Presence

By Gabrielle T. Langkilde

On Writing Pasefika Presence: The Pressures of Representation

Initially, this column was just supposed to be a way for me to express myself — a way for me to coherently organize my thoughts about Pasefika and my experiences as a Pasefika student at Harvard, an elite, predominantly white institution. And in a way, it’s been very therapeutic, empowering even, to use this platform as a space not only to exist but also to actively assert my presence as a Pasefika student. But, at the same time, writing this column over the past school year has been a mentally, emotionally, and physically draining experience for me because of the pressures of representation.

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Pasefika Graduates, We See and Celebrate You

Graduation is something close to sacred for many Pacific Islander communities.

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Using Social Media To Uplift, Not Tear Down

To distract myself from the unprecedented fear, anxiety, and uncertainty that have been brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic, I finally caved and downloaded TikTok.

Yes, I know. There are so many other things that I could be doing with my time like reading a book, learning to cook, or even journaling again. But all of those require me to actually put in the effort to think, concentrate, and engage — something I barely have any motivation for. So, I’ve taken to mindlessly scrolling through TikTok videos, memorizing TikTok dances after watching fifty #SavageChallenge videos, and laughing uncontrollably at other relatable comedic content.

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Holding Each Other from a Distance

Two weeks ago, my biggest worries concerned managing my classes, having three dance practices a week, organizing events for the Harvard College Women’s Center, and writing this column. But two weeks ago, I didn’t know that I would be packing up my things and leaving Harvard for the rest of the semester. I didn’t know that I would be getting stuck in Hawaii for a week with my older brother, scrambling to move my cousin out of her apartment with the threat of her being out of a job soon and unable to cover rent. And I didn’t know that all three of us would be flying to American Samoa together with the fear that we could be carrying a deadly virus back home, threatening the lives of, not only our families, but our entire community. To say that the things I was worried about two weeks ago now seem small and insignificant is quite the understatement.

In fact, as I sit quarantined in an apartment building, separated from my little brother, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties, and cousins, I can barely summon enough concentration to carry on with classes over Zoom or even write clear sentences for this piece.

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Football Island: The Hunting Ground for Our Samoan Brothers

Last month, as I sat in my common room surrounded by pizza boxes and blockmates impatiently waiting to watch Shakira and Jennifer Lopez perform at the Super Bowl LIV halftime show, I could not help but think of home.

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