Am I like a Samoan? Besides professional wrestling, I had never met or seen a Samoan person until I was in sixth grade. Seeing men like the Rock and Rikishi wrestler), or various other members of the Anoa’i Family, caused me to believe that all Samoans had larger than life personalities…



When I first tried to compare myself to a Samoan, the first thought that popped in my head was rugby and how much I loved to eat. Obviously, I can’t just write about the love of food I share with all Islanders. I feel the next major similarity is family. While growing up, I always knew the importance of respect, and my older siblings ensured I knew my place. Much like the Samoan concept of “faaaloalo” (fah-ah-ah-low-ah-low), the Samoan word for respect, which is basically the order of respect and leadership in a family and society, I was given my place and was taught that’s where I needed to stay. My mother, a single mom, was frequently out of the home and my three brothers and I were left in the care of my older sister.


These three Samoan brothers are my neighbors here in Laie.

My sister was as stern as any drill instructor in the military and rarely asked us to do anything; we were told what to do. Although I stopped living with my sister over ten years ago, she still tells me what to do instead of asking. My wife once asked me why I obey my sister so willingly, and I could only respond that it just felt natural. In the Samoan culture, much like the micro-society of my family, you listen to those who are older than you, if not you probably get the back of their hand.

Going along with faaaloalo, is the spirit of family. The second thing I learned about Samoans is how important family is to them, because they have a culture where an older woman becomes “Auntie”, an older man becomes “Uncle”, and any friend becomes a “Cousin”. The familial naming system can be quite confusing to those on the outside. In fact, for a short time I believed that all of the Samoans at my high school were related. Though I came from a “broken home”, as some would call it, I can’t possibly think of a principle other than family I hold in higher esteem. I loved the idea of friends being family members so much that I genuinely started to believe it.


Our friends, a Samoan family in Laie.

I hope that when I do have kids, they will legitimately not have a clue as to whom their blood relatives are, beyond their parents and siblings.

Although I’m sure there are more ways in which I am like the “Happy People”, I feel that respect and family are the most prevalent in my life.

Trevor Smith

Guest blogger, Trevor Smith. The path from Perris, California to Laie, Hawaii has taken Trevor from high school to the Marines, where he served as a rifleman for 4 years, marriage to the lovely Melinda Smith and finally to Brigham Young University-Hawaii. Trevor’s major is Business Management-Finance plus a Minor in Accounting with a legal studies emphasis. He currently works as a tutor in the Reading Writing Center on campus and hopes to attend law school on the east coast after graduation. Working as a corporate lawyer in New York would be Trevor’s dream job although he can always write about his adventures in Hawaii for his back up plan.