October 6, 2013
Last Friday, I was waking at 3:30am to catch a 5:15am flight. I was dreading the morning. When I slid into the backseat of the cab to head to the airport, all I could think about was closing my eyes and sleeping just a little more. The driver was unfamiliar with the roads near my home so, as I was directing him towards the highway, I asked him where he was from. “Kent,” he replied. “Where you born there?” I asked. “No, I was born in American Samoa.” My curiosity was peaked, but the idea of sleep still overwhelmed my mind…I was going to avoid more conversation, but couldn’t help asking how long he had been in the States resulting in such a fun and interesting car ride that left me emerging from the cab super happy to have had the pre-dawn wake up connection with King Talamoni. What he shared with me in the twenty minutes left me wanting to learn more.
Since I really was not sure where American Samoa was on the map, I had to look to Wikipedia to find a map of his homeland:
I assumed, since he was from “American” Samoa, English was his native language. It was not. He did not learn any English until the age of 28, when he arrived in Hawaii. King was the 11th born in a family of 15 children, he had 8 sisters and 6 brothers. Their “house” consisted of a large open-air, covered area (straw roof on wood poles…possibly like the structure seen here) used for dining and congregating with smaller open-air, tarp covered spaces used for different purposes –kitchen, outhouse, girls sleeping area. The boys slept in the open space & if it rained they went under the straw roofed space. Every night sleeping out under the stars…hard to imagine.
I asked him about education on the island. He said they were taught by stories handed down from ancestors. Access to formal education did not happen until his father pleaded with the government to provide transportation to the rural areas. King entered school at the age of 12.
King agreed to participate in The WMB. I am looking forward to the day I can sit down and learn more about a part of the world that I have never heard about and a life journey that has brought him to Seattle.