Transnational Pacific Islander Americans and Social Work: Dancing to the Beat of a Different Drummer

Feb 27, 2014

Cultural competence is paramount in the social work field. Social workers addressing the needs of persons in specific communities—whether ethnic, sexual, religious or otherwise—must have a working knowledge of the traditions, values and assumptions of members of such communities.transnatlPIA

Transnational Pacific Islander Americans and Social Work: Dancing to the Beat of a Different Drum serves as a voice for Pacific Islander American communities that have long been subdued in the hope that it will assist in dispelling misunderstandings, misconceptions, and misrepresentations of Pacific Islander Americans.

A first of its kind, this book attempts to bring Pacific Islander Americans to the forefront of transnational conversations, particularly in the profession of social work. It contains accounts of real-life experiences of transnational Pacific Islander Americans and issues such as colonization, immigration, and dual/multiple identities.

To highlight both the unique and shared experiences, editors Vakalahi and Godinet invited native authors from several Pacific Island groups to tell their stories. Included are authors from groups with the highest density in the United States, such as Native Hawaiians, Samoans, and Chamorros and native authors about whom little information is available such as Chuukese and Yapese.

This fascinating and delightful book features several color photographs, and has chapters on:

  • A Different Drum: The Transnational Experience
  • Chamorro Visibility: Fostering Voice and Power in a Colonial Context
  • The Chuukese Canoe
  • Pathways to Healing the Native Hawaiian Spirit Through Culturally Competent Practice
  • Ulithi, Yap: Navigating the Seas of Cultural Tradition and Change
  • Maintaining Fa’a Samoa: Transnational Samoans in the United States
  • Double Bind: The Duality of Tongan American Identity
  • Considerations for Social Work Practice with Pacific Islander Americans

Noreen Mokuau, DSW, Dean and Professor at the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at the University of Hawai’i at Minoa, writes:

Halaevalu E Ofahengaue Vakalahi and Meripa Taiai Godinet are ideally suited to construct the story of transnational Pacific Islander Americans because their own lives are intricately anchored in the experiences of transnational peoples. As transnational Pacific Islander women who walk with strength and conviction in the United States and Tonga or American Samoa, they balance commitment to their cultural roots with dedication to Western success as social work scholars and educators. In doing this, they demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and values for walking with honor and respect in different nations. Ultimately, I believe this is the fundamental requisite for the transformative potential of social justice in the global community.

Transnational Pacific Islander Americans and Social Work has been designed to specifically cover immigrant groups in the Pacific Islands that are invisible and yet growing exponentially in the United States. More and more Pacific Islander Americans, due to adjustment difficulties, are faced with challenges that bring them to the attention of social and health services. This book fills gaps in the literature by providing practitioners with information on the historical background, cultural knowledge, and practices of various Pacific Islander groups that will help improve services for these populations.

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