2015 Tafesilafai Pacific Islander Festival
July 19 - 26, 2015
100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802
"Le Auala: You BelongTherefore I Am"
The 19th Annual Tafesilafa'i Festival celebrates the thoughts, art and culture
of California's Pacific Islander Communities
The promise of the 19th Tafesilafa'i is this: You Belong. This is a recurring theme during Jesus’ earthly ministry. When Jesus encountered people who feel out of place, such as the poor, orphans, widows, prostitutes, tax collectors, strangers and children, his response to them has consistently been: You Belong with me. To those who were concern about a place to belong when Jesus leaves, Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust God, and trust me. There are many places in my father’s house and if not, I would go and prepare a place for you. So where I am, there you will be also.” [John 14:1-3]
The weeklong celebration starts July 19th and ends July 26th, 2015. Admission to the Festival is FREE and your attendance will afford you discounted admission to the Aquarium of the Pacific. Participating youth groups receive tickets to the Aquarium and there are many other fun things to do in Long Beach. Many events will be in the evening so bring a light sweater or jacket, bring your friends and spend a few days with us around the water.
This will be our last year at the Aquarium of the Pacific, so we offer a big fa’amalo to John, Erica, Cecile, Jeff and the Aquarium staff/volunteers for being such a generous host for the last 8 years. No words in any language can express our heartfelt gratitude for what you have done for the Pacific Islander community and for who you are in the world. You have truly made us feel that we belong. God bless you.
"LeAuala" our theme this year, means “the way”. When leaders are selected in the Samoan community there is a certain way by which they come to lead. The way is three pronged – kinship, servitude and prospects. Though one has little control over kinship, one can develop a servant’s heart and equip oneself for future prospects through leadership opportunities. The wisdom in this vetting process can be inferred from the phrase “You Belong, Therefore I Am.” I lead with your permission. I exist because I allow you to be. It’s the expansion of the Cartesian notion “I think therefore I am” to include belonging and being mindful of others. This is the way to leadership.
Sunday, July 19th is Family Sunday. Each family dons their finest and attends worship at their local sanctuary. Families often wear matching patterns, signifying solidarity. When these toniga or matching patterns are in community, they represent unity in diversity. After worship, each family is encouraged to brunch together or to accept a brunch invitation from others.
Monday, July 20th is the beginning of the 24 Hour Prayer Marathon. Requests, petitions, gathered throughout the year, are sounded off and prayed for at each participating place of worship. Many prayers are for individual well-being, communal peace and the perpetuation of justice. Each prayer warrior commits to a 30-minute prayer session.
Tuesday July 21st finds us wrapping up the 24 Hour Prayer Marathon and candlelight vigil as youth groups put the finishing touches on their dances, songs, performances and cultural sharing.
Wednesday July 22nd is friend-raising day and set aside for leadership development. This year’s event promises to be different and life giving.
Thursday July 23rd is set-up day at the Aquarium. The tents are raised, the sprinklers are turned off, the PA system is brought in, the stage is put together, the booths and sinks are hooked up, the "umu" is put in place and the decorations set. This year we have invited aspiring young ambassadors to get involved in the planning, implementation and evaluation of the event.
Friday July 24th The drums start beating around the lunch hour. Visitors are treated to authentic island dance performances. Each group puts on performances in their unique vernacular. You can purchase island products, experience unique island performances, songs and dances, take part in preparing island cuisines in an above ground "umu" and experience island spirituality. When the sun sets, another set of performers take the stage to share their ideas of what it means to be authentic, cathartic and alive.
Sleep with the Fishes: Your children will also have the opportunity, to "sleep with the fish" at the Aquarium of the Pacific Friday night. This year, we have expanded the program to further educate the young ones about Pacific Islander life. All participants will be given a chance to participate in one of the following educational workshops: Gagana Samoa (Samoan Language), Samoan Siva (Dance), Umu Making (cooking food Samoan style) and Fire Knife Workshop.
All workshops start at 1pm and ends at 5:30pm then the Participants will enter the Aquarium for their overnight educational program until 5am the next morning. Participation is
limited to 150. Please download the application here.
On Saturday July 25th attendees will experience an "ava" ceremony early Saturday morning. Dances, songs, talent exhibitions and games follow, or a leisurely walk along the shore or take a bike around the bay. Spend the entire day near the water, retiring to your hotel room exhausted, tanned and relaxed. The Keepers of the Flame will be performing when the sun goes down.
Finally, Sunday July 26th opens with Community Worship at 11am followed by a community meal, spiritual dances, performances, songs and praise hymns from the faith community until late afternoon. The tempo is different and the sound is uniquely islander, beating to the rhythm of the world's largest ocean.
Background: Tafesilafa'i started in 1997 as a conversation about creating an environment where Samoan identity can belong. Tafesilafa'i has now grown into an educative
platform where issues in the Pacific Islander communities are surfaced and contributions by Pacific Islanders are made. The promise is to bring healing to families, community, and others. Participants in Tafesilafa'i deepen their faith, hone their talents, and heighten their cultural awareness as they share with others. It is an affirmation of respect for God, family and self in community.