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Tongan Americans: First High School Conference Will Encourage Youth to Go to College, Stay Out of Gangs

 

 

Graphic courtesy of www.sunsite.tus.ac.jp

Tongan Americans: First High School Conference Will Encourage Youth to Go to College, Stay Out of Gangs

A college education will change the lives and opportunities of these young people
- Mitch Maki, dean, College of Health and Human Services
 

The first annual Tongan High School Conference will be held on the Cal State Dominguez Hills campus on March 8, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sponsored by the Tongan American Youth Foundation (TAYF) and the CSUDH College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), the event will feature successful representatives of the Tongan community, the California Academy of Mathematics and Sciences, and CSUDH University Outreach in talks and programs designed to encourage the youth to aspire to college and careers while avoiding gang involvement.

“When we learned of the Tongan American community’s interest in holding such a forum, our response was immediate: We need to be a part of this!,” says Mitch Maki, dean, CHHS. “The Tongan American community lives in the the geographical areas surrounding CSUDH, and is an often neglected community. While small in number, the Tongan and Tongan American community is an important piece of the Los Angeles mosaic of cultures. If CSUDH is to embrace diversity and seek to meet the needs of the surrounding ethnic, racial, and cultural communities, we need to embrace the Tongan American community. It is simply the right thing to do.” 

The program will begin at 7:30 a.m. with registration and breakfast. Chris Ma’umalanga, former NFL player with the New York Giants and founder, TAYF, will open the event, followed by an invocation by Tuita Tuiasoa, bishop of the Church of Latter Day Saints in Inglewood. Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Allen Mori will welcome the students, their parents, and the community to CSUDH.

The program includes speakers from the areas of education, roots and culture, sports and extracurricular activities, and vocations and careers, including Dr. ‘Anapesi Kaili, University of Utah; Lisa Tu’itahi, attorney; Rev. Motu’ahala, and Reno Mahe, former player for the Philadelphia Eagles. Musical group Kontiki will perform following the presentations.

Maki hopes that the event will inspire Tongan American youth with a vision of what their lives could be.

“It can do so by welcoming the young people and making them feel comfortable on a college campus, demonstrating the ways in which college can be meaningful and fun, and, most important, instilling the idea of “Yes, I can go to college!” he says.  “A college education will change the lives and opportunities of these young people.  In doing so, it changes the life opportunities of their families and, in turn, their community.  If these young people leave the conference with the idea that they can and should go on to college, we will have been successful.”

For free registration and more information, contact Chris Ma’umalanga at
(310) 678-6507 or Vaka Faletau at (626) 938-1695.

-Joanie Harmon

 

 
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Last updated Monday, March 6, 12:28 p.m., by Joanie Harmon