“If I have courage, it is because I have faith in the teachings of my ancestors. With that courage you can travel anywhere in the world and never be lost.” – Mau Piailug
This journey has been one of the biggest turning points in my life. I’ve obviously learned so much about sailing and life at sea, but I’ve also learned a lot about myself while I’ve been away from home. Being able to voyage from island to island similarly to the way my ancestors did before me has been an extremely emotional personal experience for me. I think about them all the time; I find myself talking to them when I’m at lookout, sometimes I see them in my dreams, and whenever I look up at the stars I’m reminded of how they were able to navigate without any help from modern technology.
Then I begin to think of how I’ve been navigating my own life. Stepping away from most technology, social media, etc. has given me a plethora of time for self-reflection. I’ve thought constantly about my identity as a Pacific Islander, my name, my personal voyage through life, and what mark I want to leave on this world. I know I still have a lot of growing and learning to do but I’m excited for the knowledge I will continue to gain and ready for any challenges that come my way.
As this adventure is coming to a rapid end, I have learned that I was never meant to stay in one place for a long time. I struggle to find the words to accurately express the emotions I’ve experienced and the excitement I have to go forward with my life after this trip (it would take so much more than a couple of paragraphs), but I hope this short update on my life will do for now. While I’m still not sure where I’ll be when I finish school in a few years, I know for a fact that my future lies in Oceania. My ancestors consistently voyaged from one place to another and I want to carry on their legacy and follow in their footsteps. I may be away from home (Washington), but I’m still home.
To end this blog post, I leave you all with an excerpt from my favorite poem by Sia Figiel:
“No shoe fits the foot of the fat brown woman
No high heel
No low heel
Confine the foot of the fat brown woman
Because the feet of the fat brown woman
Are grounded nicely to the bellies of
The fat blue Pacific
The fat brown Earth.”
Alofa tele atu to all of my aiga, ua o misia oe! To my siblings specifically; FESILI!!!! Kakou o e aumai le falaoa (lol)!
- Letauaeletise Hunkin, University of Washington – Seattle, C Watch