Be That Person | Sabrina Suluai-Mahuka | TEDxPagoPago

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Sabrina shares how it is important to be that person to support the next generation. After graduating from the American Samoa Community College, she first began teaching at Fa’asao Marist High School and it is there that she began her journey as a professional in the education field. In 2015, she moved to Samoana High School where she has worked ever since. She graduated with her Bachelor’s of Education in Elementary Education in 2014 and her Master’s of Education in Curriculum Studies in 2016. She is currently a doctorate student pursuing her PhD in Learning Design and Technology. She also serves as an instructor and advisor for the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Pacific Master of Education degree in Curriculum Studies for educators based in American Samoa and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. She is an avid reader and after a stressful day of teaching, reading soothes her soul and recharges her batteries so that she can perform (teach) at an optimal level for the next day. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx <br> <h3>Auto Generated Captions</h3>

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growing up I was a perfect kid the best
student in the class ranked number one
and guess what I did that all on my own
no parent supervision no one to help me
or guide me along the way there was no
need for a stern talking-to or a firm
pat on the butt because I was amazing at
everything and didn’t need anyone or any
help and I even graduated high school as
a class valedictorian who here can
relate to that raise of hands I knew it
well that was not me I was not that
child I was this child where my parents
had to bribe me with lemonade in order
for me to do my homework I’ve been
teaching for eight going on nine years
now and I’ve seen students on both ends
of the spectrum from where they excel
and soak into learning really well to
where they struggle and can barely grasp
the concept but in all cases they needed
help maybe some more than others
but the point is that they needed help
well I am a teacher because that is what
I’m all about
my goal as an educator is to be the
person that I needed when I was younger
during the school year I’m surrounded by
students throughout the day
five days a week what I realized is that
these students need us and they need our
guidance they may not realize it or they
may not want it but in reality they do
lead us let me clarify it’s not so much
that they can’t do it on their own or
that they don’t have the ability to
succeed without us but it’s about giving
them the guidance support and better yet
inspiration
our youths are already dealing with a
gargantuan amount of pressure in their
lives and they’re juggling a myriad of
responsibilities and sometimes we adults
can downplay that and said well I did it
when I was your age so why can’t you but
we forget that we had someone to help
and to guide us – for me I had my
parents and my older sister were more
than enough to be the mentors in my life
and of course I had a few teachers to
help me out as well
so now it’s our turn and we’re here as
mentors it’s a guide to help and support
because we can help alleviate those
burdens and because we want our students
our youth our children to go further
than we ever did and in order for them
to do that they need us the dictionary
definition of a mentor is an experienced
and trusted adviser or someone who has
the ability to advise or train when
we’re talking about mentoring our youth
or being in charge of another human
being
the idea of it is a bit daunting for
some of us if we’re completely honest
we’re still trying to find ourselves and
ferry things out as adults so the
thought of guiding another person can
seem like it wouldn’t be a good idea but
here’s the thing you don’t need to be a
teacher or to be around students all day
to be a mentor you don’t need a high
paying job or a college degree to be a
mentor what you need is the willingness
to help and the belief that our youth
are worth it
that they’re worth the investment of
your time and effort and that you
believe that they can achieve having
someone believe in you can make a world
of a difference and you can be that
person for them so as I mentioned before
the idea of mentoring use can be a bit
intimidating to some but it doesn’t have
to be because if you really think about
it all you need to do is three things
emboldened and power and encourage these
three words this formula of ease are the
only thing that you need to do to be a
mentor now if you look in the dictionary
or thesaurus these words are synonymous
to each other and may seem redundant and
completely unnecessary to have three
words of the same meaning however hear
me out first and Boldin if you want to
be a mentor you need to be that person
who emboldened our use and Bolden as in
arming them with the skills that are
vital to college and career settings
when it comes to education there’s so
much emphasis on learning what’s in a
book or scoring high on the never ending
standardized test that they give us
every single year but true learning
authentic learning extends far beyond us
and you can be that person who
illuminates those findings of true
learning you can be that person to show
them that skills such as communicating
effectively working collaboratively and
making commitments are fundamental in
succeeding in any setting whether that
be at a university or at their first job
an example of emboldened in our youth is
a community service project that I
recently started Feeney phenom which is
a psalm 1 term for being steadfast or
resilience while the project focuses on
protecting the environment one of the
things the students get to do is grant
writing for me I personally did not
write or winter grants until two to
three years ago and yet these students
these teenagers are not only learning
how to write grants but they’re winning
them as well now they may be small
amounts of a couple hundred dollars but
this skill can be transferred to many
settings and is applied to both college
and career opportunities
some of you sitting here have probably
won grants of a couple hundred dollars a
couple hundred thousands of dollars and
you can be that person who helps them
improve these skills but this is just
one of the many skills that we can pass
on were considered experts in our field
so let’s train our youth to be experts
as well and you can be that person who
shows our youth this authentic learning
these authentic skills so when they do
transition into adulthood they are fully
equipped they are fully emboldened to
succeed second empower if you want to be
a mentor you need to be that person who
empowers our youth over the years I’ve
been to a number of programs meetings
and workshops and they always mention
youth empowerment well what does that
mean again let’s look at the dictionary
and power it means to enable or to
liberate or to authorize so when we’re
talking about youth empowerment you need
to be that person who enables who
liberate them and who empowers them and
gives them authority empowerment means
involving them in decision-making and
providing them the opportunity to make
their own choices and to grow and to
develop as individuals so what exactly
are we talking about as I mentioned
before I started the project Pina phenom
and one of the objectives is to empower
our people specifically our youth so
instead of running the project by myself
I have a board of students who are in
charge of the calendar of events the
writing of small grants organizing
cleanups
they are given the authority to recruit
volunteers to collect and report data
and to make an active role in their
community this group of students will be
telling me what they want to do and how
they’re going to do it
in addition not only are they empowered
within their small communities but we
take it a step further and they go on to
represent the territory at national
programs now again I help them find
these opportunities and guided them
through the directions but it’s them
it’s these students who are excelling in
the application process who are
presenting and developing projects at
these national programs programs that
are highly exclusive and don’t see a lot
of Pacific Islander representation and
yet here they are and that’s what I mean
when I’m referring to youth empowerment
you can be that person who find these
opportunities or provides these
opportunities for our youth you can be
that person who connects them to
programs they might be interested in or
you think would be a good fit for them
so be that person who really does
empower our youth and lastly encourage
if you want to be a mentor you need to
be that person who encourages our youth
what I’ve noticed about being around
students is that there is an inherent
fear instilled within us as an adult not
yet thirty I still feel this feeling so
I can only imagine how that feeling
weighs upon our youth so we need to get
out of the mindset that failing is a bad
thing or that you shouldn’t ever fail no
what we need to emphasize is that when
they do fail or fall short fail forward
with life comes the expectancy of
failure and you can try your absolute
best and still not make it that’s why we
need to encourage our youth and make it
known that failure is not the end it’s
merely a common in their journey and not
a period I am a proud aunt my niece
Marielle has our whole family wrapped
around her little finger she turns to
this month so she’s still a bit wobbly
on her feet and she tends to stumble and
often falls when she does stumble we all
converge
and try to study her and when she does
fall we pick her up right away and check
to see if she’s okay when she learned
something new she looks up at us and we
all praised her and tell her how amazing
she is and you can see the happiness in
her eyes from hearing those praises
watching her makes me think at what
point do we stop this type of
encouragement at what point do we stop
helping them up at what point do you
think that they don’t need us anymore
for our youth you can be that person to
study them when they stumble to help
them up and encourage them when they
fall you can be that person to check in
on them to see if they’re okay you can
be that person to praise them and lift
them up when they do something right
let’s be that mentor who shows our youth
that they can persevere in the face of
adversity and that they can be resilient
and recover when they do stumble we
don’t want our youth thinking that they
have to be perfect let me say that
louder for the people in the back we
don’t want perfection we want
progression be that person who
emphasizes progress even if it’s my new
to is still progress overall mentoring
our youth isn’t about whether or not
they get good grades it’s not about
making sure that they’re the best in the
class or ranked in the top 10 it’s about
helping them become the best versions of
themselves whatever or whoever that may
be it’s about giving them the skills and
providing them the opportunities to grow
and to develop as individuals to
reiterate our youth are worth the
investment of your time and effort it’s
a cliché for a reason but they are our
future so let’s get into the mindset and
recognize how valuable our youth really
are so the goal of mentoring is to be
that person
be that trusted advisor be that person
who supports them be that person who
pushes them be that person who inspires
them but most of all be that person who
emboldened and powers and encourages our
youth thank you
[Music]

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