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One Ocean – Home and Away


It was two hours before my flight and already I was an emotional wreck. My reality was that I was leaving home, leaving my family and friends and the life I had known for the past 17 years, to live and study in New Zealand. Eventually, it was time for me to say goodbye to my family. Reminiscing now, I wonder if they heard the panic in my voice. With my back turned to them, it took all I had not to burst into tears. Staring into the pitch black of the night sky, I had never felt more alone.

25 years ago, my mom lived the exact same experience: Like me, she flew away from our tiny island in Samoa. I imagine her staring out into the infinite blues of the ocean and sky in fear and excitement of the unknown. Unlike me, she was the first of her brothers and sisters to go to university. That meant that, with the hope and pride of her family placed on her shoulders, there was the weight of expectations and the pressure to succeed.

40 years ago, my grandmother traversed oceans from our corner of the world to study in London. In her field of study, she was in pursuit of the highest honour one could attain, becoming a Pasifika pioneer in the medical profession. She remembers this privilege as one of the hardest times of her life as a mother. I imagine her lying awake at night, thinking of my grandfather and her four children, thousands of miles away.

In the loneliness I faced leaving my home, I found an unexpected connection to the experiences and sacrifices of my mom and mama before me. I realise that we lived different versions of the same life, experiencing the same feelings and facing similar hardships. Now when I think about what I’m going through, I smile, because I know that I could never face it alone.

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Uncomfortable places: skin.

:   Where are you from?  My list was always ready: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, puppy dogs’ tails, a little Spanish, maybe German, and—almost as an afterthought—half Samoan. An unwanted fraction.   But you don’t seem like a Samoan. I thought you were [inser

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