BULA VINAKA & TALOFA LAVA!
My father Dr. Vaiula Tuato'o, a Samoan who attended the Fiji School of Medicine in the mid- 1950's and met my mother Elaine Giblin a Fijian, born in Savusavu. They got married and had 8 children. Three of them were born in Fiji in the late 1950's. In fact my father has Tongan roots as well. Talk about the Pacific Triangle connection. Sounds like that rugby tournament they hold each year!
What privileges have you received as someone of mixed heritage?
More than words can explain, I take as much pride as being a Samoan just as I am Fijian. It's a powerful combination. Can you imagine if one of my brothers or myself would have pursued a rugby career? I hang my head high because Fiji has the best sevens in the worlds no matter what they say. Until my mother died in December 2002, she was a die-hard Fijian Rugby fan, always blasting her radio for all our neighbors to hear, especially when they played Manu Samoa. I am blessed because not too many Samoans can say that they are half Fijian. I take my roots very seriously.
What is like growing up as someone of mixed ancestry of Fijian, Samoan and European heritage?
It's a blessing and honor like I mentioned. It shows that we live in harmony despite our geographical, political and social differences. I am never ashamed to tell people my mother is Fijian, because without her love and guidance all my brothers and sisters would not live successful lives like they do today. My parents divorced in the early 1980's, but my mother never left us, she continued to work hard so my brothers and sisters would have a bright future. She never remarried. She could have left us and returned to Fiji, but she left Fiji in the late 1960's and never returned. That's the commitment, dedication and love she shared for so many years with our family. She is a very intelligent and wise woman. She held the position of medical records director at the LBJ hospital in American Samoa for over 30 years. That's the Fijian side that I'm very proud of. She was so bright and would stress nothing else but the best. She taught us to serve with humility and encouraged us " Never to let any Samoan beat you in your studies". She held high expectations for us all.
What are some achievements in life you would like to share?
Because of my Father's education in Fiji, we all moved to Dunedin New Zealand for 5 years while he was receiving his preliminary training. So I have been around the Maori All Blacks crowd as well. I'm blessed. My greatest personal achievement occurred in November 1993, when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I believe it is not a religion but a relationship. God has been faithful to my family and me. I am happily married to Masae Tuato'o a Samoan. I have three lovely children, all born in American Samoa. My oldest Elaine is named after my mother. She is married and lives with us. Go Fiji! Bula! My second oldest daughter is Knisha, she is a current senior in high school here in Colorado Springs, Colorado. My son Tobias is going to be 5 on March 16th, 2007. He's a blessing because when my mother passed away in December of 2001, I had a big void in my heart. I felt really empty. However, my wife's sister allowed us to adopt Tobias in March of 2002 when he was born. My life has never been the same. My mother had always wanted my wife and I to have son, I believe my mother sent him to us. What a story! I also hold a Doctorate's Degree in Public Administration. I have taught in both at the high school and college level. I have been an educator for exactly 20 years. My family relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2003. I am also an assistant pastor with the Samoan Assembly of God church in Colorado Springs. God is Good- All the time.
What is your vision for future generation of mixed Fijian, Samoan and European youngsters to appreciate their ancestry?
Nothing better than the word of mouth!!!! Just as my mother taught me the importance of sharing our life story, I will do the same to my children. In fact, they all would like to visit Fiji one day. We have to keep the story and tales alive. Continue to tell them the same good things my mother relayed to us. It would only succeed as we parents make it important and successful. Keep the vision alive! You can take a Fijian out of Fiji but you can never take Fiji out of Fijian! Keep in mind; Blood is always thicker than water. We have to continue to dig our roots deeper. Educate them, show them pictures, magazines, sporting events, etc…. do whatever it takes. We all can make a difference.
Any other comments or advice to those of similar ancestry as yourself reading your story online?
Never, ever be ashamed of being of mixed descent. In fact, almost every human beings are of mixed descent or nationality. You are who you are today because of your ethnic background. You are special and very unique. I wouldn't trade it for anything in this world. Fijian and Samoan ancestry-it just doesn't get any better…It is my goal to find out more about my Fijian side of the family because I owe my life to it……and it would have been my mothers request and dream as well. Keep the fire burning!!!!!. God Bless.
VINAKA VAKALEVU & FA'AFETAI LAVA