The Pasefika Club hosted its first meeting of the semester last week and had a turnout of at least 50 students. (Photo courtesy of Flomi Esah)
By Cameron Enomoto | Staff Writer
The Pasefika Club, which was formed on Oct. 3 last year, is now under new leadership and has plans to host more events on campus as well as increase club member involvement. Pasefika aims to broaden the horizons of Pacific Islander students, create a place of belonging for everyone, and form a community where students can receive the support they need.
When the club hosted its first event in Fall 2022, no students attended. Since then, Pasefika has come a long way and currently has approximately 60 members with more students expected to join throughout the semester, according to Flomi Esah, the vice president and treasurer of the club.
“Right now, the majority of the members are Micronesian,” Esah said. “We have some Polynesians and few Melanesians [people from Guam, Fiji, Palau, and other parts of the southwest Pacific] too.”
Despite advertising the club as being for students of Pacific Islander ancestry, President Jama Walter wants all students to feel comfortable joining regardless of their ethnic background.
“Any students who are interested in signing up are more than welcome to come,” said Walter. “We want everyone. If you want to learn about our culture and our values we will teach you.”
Outside of working with KCC students, the Pasefika Club has connections to We Are Oceania, a nonprofit organization with a mission to empower the Micronesian community. The Micronesian Wayfinders Club at Honolulu Community College is another group that Pasefika is affiliated with. After no students attended the first event hosted by Pasefika, President Davis Martin of the Micronesian Wayfinders Club encouraged both Walter and Esah to continue to be passionate about their vision.
“We felt better after receiving that kind of mentoring and we want to give that back to the students,” said Esah. “We want to break the pattern of coming to school, going to class, and going home. If we create a space where students feel comfortable it will give them a reason to stay on campus and actually connect with people here.”
Walter and Esah are hopeful that the club will be able to have two meetings per month with all club members. These meetings will serve as planning time for future events and possible fundraising opportunities, and serve as a means for students to get to know each other.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s totally worth it,” said Walter, who lives in Kalihi. “For me, on a personal side, I live in a troubled area, and seeing the violence is so unnecessary. I want students to prove that they are more than just the stereotype that they are labeled with. Many of the Pacific Islander students we’ve seen at the Micronesia Youth Summit are really smart and have potential.”
The Micronesia Youth Summit is an annual event in March for middle and high schoolers where they can attend various panels and engage with college students and working adults who have real-world experiences and stories from which they can gain insight. For future events, Walter and Esah are looking to invite guest speakers to attend and share what they have learned with students in the club.
“We’re making it happen,” said Walter. “We got a lot going on right now but I am excited to see what we can do this semester and moving forward.”
For students who are interested in joining the Pasefika Club, please email email@example.com.