School for me as a youngster was my second home. I loved it! I had great friends (who I'm still friends with to this day, regardless of where they are running off to, living their adult lives). School was not only my playground, it was where my thoughts were nurtured and where ideas came to life. It was my childhood haven..I looked forward to school everyday (mostly) from primary school right up to high school.
My eagerness for school started to wane when I was in University. The decline of interest did not occur due to studies, no it had nothing to do with that. I still enjoyed my studies. Being one of five females at flight school for that intake, we had to work twice as hard as the boys. We had to study hard and had minimum time for socialising. When you fly planes and take seven to eight papers a semester (the normal students take 4 papers) with two weeks of flying every month depending on the weather, there is little room for socializing. That Avgas owns you once you take a sniff!
Massey University provided great support for Pacific Island students. There was a Pasifika space for students and Learning Advisers to ensure that students had the support to realise their academic aspirations.This was one of the spaces where I met great people, who inspired me to do well but also there were students who were just the opposite, including one Learning Consultant. They did not like people who were different from them, who did not go with the flow, who did not want to 'hang out' and socialise with them. They enjoyed gossip, backstabbing, making up false stories about other students, recruiting other people to side with them in their ways. If you were not part of their 'in group', you were crucified socially. I remember one bright girl who I met for the first time on my way to the library, she said to me
' So, you are Enid, the half caste. I've heard a lot of things about you, they say you don't want to be in the same group as us because you are half caste, your family is well off and will not socialise with full blooded Samoans, you are famous'.
At first, I smiled but inside I was seething. It is true that I have a Swedish last name but I've never seen myself as half caste. I have many full-blooded Samoan friends among other nationalities. In Samoa, I was never bullied or the subject of such mindless gossip. I also knew the group of girls who were spreading these rumors. Sadly, some of the girls who did this were some of the same girls from Samoa who went over to New Zealand on scholarships. I thought 'What did I ever do to these girls to make them so nasty? They must have a lot of time on their hands to enjoy passing false stories around about other people? Just because I'm half caste, doesn't mean I will overlook my own people. I don't have time to socialise, I have too much to do".
This was not the only encounter which surprised me. I met many more Pacific students who told me the same thing and after I became friends with them, they confirmed that I'm not this snobbish half-caste these people made me out to be. I tried my best to ignore the gossip and stuck to my studies as well as making many friends along the way. During my second year at univeristy, I became the Pasifika fellowship president, I also was a member of the Student Council. I held many leadership roles and took part in many projects. I hardly saw the gossip group around. Last I heard, one of them became pregnant and did not finish school while the other moved back home. While I do not enjoy hearing the demise or downfall of others, it does remind us to better ourselves. My first year might have been unpleasant especially since I did not have family nearby but I was never alone. Thankfully, I had a group of great Godly women who helped me. I have one lady in particular who helped me see the better side of life and reinstated my eagerness in school again. Janeen Mills was my biggest supporter, she helped me overcome many obstacles that I faced with similar people throughout my university days.
I graduated and have gone on to do many great things in my life. I've held many leadership roles and still enjoy studying. I have a friend who's motto is 'The sweetest revenge is success'. When I think about it, this is very true. Being successful and reaching your goals regardless of what people say or do to you is indeed the sweetest revenge.
Today, I look back and I'm glad for that experience. It taught me that no matter where I am in the world, there will always be people who will personally attack you without reason. In addition, there are far more people who are willing to help you if you let them. As a Samoan growing up in Samoa, I know that we are our biggest enemy. Some Samoans (if not most) do not like other people to better them, sadly some people who have nothing better to do will spend their time tearing others down. The same goes for all other ethnic groups, this is common in this day and age.
I do hope you read this and have more courage to succeed rather than giving up or giving in to people who do not care for the well-being of others. You are never alone.