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GLIDE Voices: Meilani Meleisea on Asian American & Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander Month

During May, GLIDE Voices is highlighting Asian American and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator Meilani Meleisea, “what GLIDE values resonate with you this month and why?

Meilani Meleisea, Annual Giving Manager

My name is Meilani Taumaia Marie Meleisea. I was raised by parents who hail from both Apia in the West of Samoa and the village of Taputimu on the Island of Tutuila in the East of Samoa. To be of Samoan Heritage and to have been raised by both my family and larger community has shaped the values I currently hold, many of which GLIDE upholds as well. Of GLIDE’s central values, I resonate most with being “For the People,” and continuously being “Loving and Hopeful”. As a child, I was taught by my parents to be giving and to be kind. I was also taught to always strive to leave someone better than I met them.

To be Pacific Islander is largely to know that all that who you are, is not all of your own doing. I recognize that I have villages and family everywhere, by way of the vastness of our oceans and the fortitude of my people, who have served me and poured immeasurable value into my life. It is in recognizing this, that I have learned and continue to learn how to best serve my community with humility, compassion, and strength. GLIDE similarly exhibits genuine and humble service for their communities in everything they do, whether it is serving meals at 7 am in the morning or staying after hours to ensure a community member has all they need for the evening ahead. GLIDE stands for all people. To be loving and hopeful is a value I have come to cherish in my work with Pasifika communities near and far.

Being a Pacific Islander in the United States can feel both strenuous and isolating. Throughout all of my schooling, I was the only Pacific Islander in any of my graduating classes. Throughout my life I have felt like the only Pacific Islander in everything I have done, which can be extremely lonely sometimes. Nevertheless, I have found friends and colleagues along the way who share my love of our Pasifika communities and my passion for equitable representation of NHPI peoples. It is in these experiences that I learned to root my cultural advocacy work in love rather than resentment and hope rather than fear.

To be at GLIDE is to emanate love and to do so unconditionally. GLIDE receives folks who come from all walks of life and meets each one with the same love which works to inspire the hope that there are people who love other people, and that all people are deserving of love.

Manuia le Masina AANHPI. 

Alofa Tele! 

­­­— Meilani Taumaia Marie Meleisea