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PISA looks to expand and educate

Antoinette+Sharpe%2C+Anuhea+Tao+Tufaga%2C+Nash+Salas%2C+Tiffany+Pascua+and+Myrna+Gungon+pose+after+performing+a+dance+at+last+year%27s+scholarship+luau.+
Antoinette Sharpe, Anuhea Tao Tufaga, Nash Salas, Tiffany Pascua and Myrna Gungon pose after performing a dance at last year's scholarship luau.

Antoinette Sharpe, Anuhea Tao Tufaga, Nash Salas, Tiffany Pascua and Myrna Gungon pose after performing a dance at last year's scholarship luau.

Courtesy of Anuhea Tao Tufaga

Courtesy of Anuhea Tao Tufaga

Antoinette Sharpe, Anuhea Tao Tufaga, Nash Salas, Tiffany Pascua and Myrna Gungon pose after performing a dance at last year's scholarship luau.

by Nicole Badgley, Senior Staff Writer

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San Diego State’s Pacific Islander Student Association is a cultural student organization that strives to educate members and the community about the various cultures from the Pacific Islands.

Kinesiology junior Anuhea Tao Tufaga is the current PISA President for the 2017-2018 school year. She has been a member of PISA for three years.

Tufaga’s father, Louie Tufaga, founded the SDSU chapter of PISA in 1996. She said she’s been a part of the organization since she was born.

Tufaga said she is Hawaiian and Samoan. She said her parents both participated in dancing growing up and her mother used to be a hula teacher.

“On my Pacific Islander side, I’ve danced for different groups so that really taught me a lot about my culture,” Tufaga said. “Through this club I’m learning more and more about my culture as well.”

Tufaga said her initiative this year as the organization’s newest president is to promote that PISA is not just for Pacific Islanders. The club is for anyone who is interested in joining and learning about the culture.

“My favorite part is spreading the culture because it’s not only just for Pacific Islander people,” Tufaga said. “It’s for learning new things.”

Tufaga said another PISA initiative is to raise awareness for education of Pacific Islander youth.

One of PISA’s major events promoting education is its annual High School Conference, where a large effort to inform Pacific Islander students about the importance of higher education is made.

With just 0.3 percent of students at SDSU being from Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander descent, according to SDSU’s Office of Analytic Studies and Institutional Research, there is a demonstrated need for organizations like PISA and its outreach regarding higher education for Pacific Islander youth. This year’s conference is set to take place Saturday, Nov. 4.

Another large part of PISA’s education emphasis involves dance.

“We teach (students) the basics,” Tufaga said. “We’ll teach them a song, but we teach them the meaning of the song first and then teach them the dance.”

She said the organization tries to involve itself in the Pacific Islander community by doing regular volunteer events. This includes crafting and making pareos, the traditional wraparound skirt that Pacific Islander dancers wear, and making new plans to get involved with the larger San Diego Pacific Islander community.

Electrical engineering junior Romanique Borja joined PISA this year. He believes it is important to have a social organization like PISA where students who share the same experiences can rely on each other and learn from one another. Borja said being a part of the Pacific Islander community is largely based off community.

“A big thing in the Pacific Islander culture is to be around other Islanders and experience your culture,” Borja said. “It’s all about family.”

Growing up in Oceanside, Borja said there are many Pacific Islanders, especially of Samoan origin. Growing up in that community, as well as being around his own family, has taught him a lot about his own culture.

“Even though I wasn’t raised in the islands I am from, whenever my family is together we always instill that culture,” Borja said. “I’ve always tried to go back to my roots and figure out who I am and where I come from.”

By joining PISA, Borja said he hopes to gain lifelong friendships and be apart of a SDSU family that understands his experiences and culture.

The first PISA meeting for the semester is from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 13, in the Park Blvd. room of the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union.

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