This is my culture. This is my childhood, adulthood, and death all rolled into one word. I live my life every day the way my culture would have it. Although I am not as traditional as my father would like, I still keep to most of the ways of our family and the ancestors before us. When I was growing up, it was expected to carry my name with pride and a sense of respect. I was told that the name you have is not yours, but the name of those whose blood runs the same way as you. For the longest time I thought he meant those whose blood was the same as you, but that is not correct. The name you carry does not necessarily mean the name you were born into but the name that you build for yourself throughout the life you live and the actions you make. This is Fa’a Samoa, “The Samoan Way.”
If I were to grow up in Samoa I would have developed very tight-knit familial traditions. Family housing supports 10-20 residents within the immediate relations. Even though I spent my adolescence in America, we held many of the same customs. Dinners at home would be a mandatory event with a customary prayer said before anyone was to eat. Elders were served first and then you were permitted to eat. In my culture, elders made all decisions and no alternate options were provided. If there was an older age group, the generation that followed was to trail behind the example that their predecessors set. If an older sibling made a mistake the younger was to learn by their punishment. Many ancient civilizations rely on their older populace to guide them to success.
I had hoped that there would be an easier way to explain the meaning, but there really is not. I learn from the mistakes of my past or the mistakes my elders have made. I am expected to conduct myself as though I am representing my people in everything that I do. Even though my parents are divorced, my sister has moved away, and we are not as close as I would like, it does not matter because we each have been set on a path that will lead us together in the end. This may sound religious, but it is not. When I die I know I will be put in the same earth as my people before me, and I take extreme pride in that. I live my life the way my family would be proud, and I truly believe that I carry out the traditions of the Samoan culture in every aspect of my life.