Being raised in the Polynesian Culture

I was born into a Polynesian family. In my culture which is the Tongan culture, family is the most important aspect of life along with your faith in God. With this in account the oldest in the family has the most responsibly on their shoulders to be the best example they can be. I am the oldest child of 4 in my family. I also have a very large extended family. Growing up I was always around my cousins. We became so close that we are all brothers and sisters to each other. From my cousins that are in the mid twenties with families of their own to my little cousins that are little babies we are all like one big family. So with all my cousins older and younger I wanted to be the best example I could be. I strive to do my best at whatever I do because of my family. Without my family I would not be where I am today. They are my motivation to compete, my biggest fans, and they give me comfort and support when I need it. At my football games I would have a huge section cheering me, my brother and cousins playing. Any time I am going through a trial in my life I can turn to any member in my family for help and I can rely on them to get me out of a bad situation. Being close to my family has helped me out a tremendous amount in getting me to where I am now. When I selected UCLA for football my whole family was so proud of me. I had set the bar for the younger generations below me and I pushed my cousins around me to be like me staying positive and helping them believe. I am my parents pride and joy. They tell everyone and anyone about me because they are so happy to call me their son. I do the things I do for the name I wear on my back, because for me I don’t only represent myself I represent everyone from my ancestors to the new born cousins in my family and that is why I do what I do.

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Comment by Jonathan Thomson on February 3, 2011 at 8:49pm
Thank you, Sam. I wonder, is there a downside to the family pride? Do you feel pressure because of it?

My situation is in some ways the same, in some very different. My family is fairly small and its "identity" is less clear. I grew up in a rural town on a farm, surrounded by mostly white people. No one in my family was involved in music and my sister and I were the first to go to college. I find it hard to relate to them now, but at the same time I feel uncomfortably lucky that they did not limit me.

My wife grew up in a tight-knit Korean family here in LA. The process of getting married exposed each of our family's complexities, as well as the cultural differences.

I admire your family and hope your bond grows even deeper!

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