100 to 0: Spotlight on the Samoan Community Development Center Community Hub
By Olive Pelesauma
My name is Olive Pelesauma, but most people call me Tive. My current role at SCDC is a program lead for Ala Mai (Arise), an academic support program for Pacific Islander youth. However, since COVID and the opening of SCDC Community Hubs, I am currently one of the two Pod instructors for our Middle School hub. On a regular pod day, my role is to support our youth with their academic and technical challenges that many of our kids face with distance learning and making sure they are participating in class and completing assignments In addition, I also create fun activities and games for our youth to have, contacting teachers and counselors to support our students, and communicating with parents to make sure they know what’s going on with their youth.
Prior to joining our pod, a lot of our youth were feeling overwhelmed from responsibilities they had at home while being a student at school and were feeling really disconnected to youth their own age. Most of our youth were falling behind in their school work from the lack of understanding, technical difficulties, and just getting the support they needed. In addition, there were challenges their families were facing that were definitely impacting their own school and mental health, i.e. — homelessness, unemployment, families moving in together to stay in the city while some had to move out the way just to have a roof over their head. By coming to the pod, our youth’s grades improved as well as participation in their classes, and our youth were able to just be kids, interacting and fellowshipping with each other. Coming to our hubs, some of our youth had over 100 assignments, which was definitely a struggle, but they never gave up and with the help of everyone — SCDC, their school and their families, youth were able to complete it. They are VERY RESILIENT!
The youth in our pods get along amazingly well, especially with everyone’s different background, personalities, and grade level. We have students for different middle schools in our pods, so this is the first time they’ve been around each other, and with the addition to masks and social distancing, you would think it would have been challenging for them to have a bond. This was definitely not the case and I would say it’s because our activities and set outside of their school time is very intentional — providing a space where they can talk, interact, and bond! One thing we have set up is our Emotional Chart and our Daily Mental Health Check in Board — two things we implemented to make sure our youth are being checked on and they have a space to share their feelings because in some cases, there is someone else in the room that is feeling the same way. We also make sure to do all our activities (outside volleyball, kick ball, etc) as a community, meaning we wait for everyone to go on break or lunch to play together, so no one feels rushed. For those that are done, we have a quiet break out area, where youth can read, relax, etc.
I still believe San Francisco is a great place to grow up because I grew up here in San Francisco all my life. My parents gave me everything I wanted. I appreciate and forever owe them my life. There’s many things to do in the city and yet I have to explore them. What I like about San Francisco is the diverse communities and cultural aspects. I like how we have a center for Pacific Islanders. I never knew how much work was being done here at SCDC until I started working here. THE CITY will always be my home! Thank you Aunty Patsy, Aunty John, Aunty Lynn & Tino for letting me come here at work under y’all! I appreciate all the talks and everything. I would not be half the person I am if it wasn’t for you guys and my parents. Thank you for teaching me most of the things I know and growing as a person and a woman.
I know it’s been a struggle to go to school virtually and have to sit through classes for 6–7 hours a day. I’m proud of all the kids that stuck through it and kept it pushing! You are the real MVP’s! Thank you for not giving up on your school, teachers and hub instructors! Thank you teachers that manage to also stick through it because I know it’s hard when we all were used to in-person classes and trying to show students how to do their school work through zoom. I feel like the pandemic definitely had a big impact in a good and bad way because it brought out our abilities that weren’t there or were there but weren’t explored. We can give this pandemic a round of applause for making us tougher, more resilient and the best version of ourselves. We had a lot of time to ourselves to really reflect at home and really think about how we can help our students and our community through this tough time. I wish everyone the best and continue to stride!
Tive, as we struggle and grind through the pandemic, what song motivates you to continue to serve our communities?
“Where is the love?” by the Black Eyed Peas and “Family & Friends” by the Isley Brothers.