A love the Tokelauan language as well as a love for working with Pasifika children has allowed Grace to complete a Bachelor degree in Early Childhood Education.
Full Name: Juliana Carmerita Iosefo-Perez
Degree: Bachelor of Education - Teaching, Early Childhood Education
Current role: Tokelauan Language Teacher at Matiti Tokelau Akoga Kamata
Place of Birth: Upolu, Western Samoa
Place in Family: Oldest of 12 children, to parents Kalolo Fuimaono and Malia Keleofa.
Rita, of Tokelauan descent, was born and grew up in Samoa, mostly in Pagopago American Samoa, and is trilingual—speaking English, Samoan and Tokelauan fluently. She attended St Mary’s primary school in Savalalo, then Marists’ College at Moamoa, both in Upolu, Western Samoa. Rita is a Tokelauan language teacher at Matiti Tokelau Akoga Kamata Early Childhood Education centre in Naenae, Lower Hutt—and she is passionate about it. Other things Rita is passionate about are working with Pasifika children and whanau; getting involved with her church and community; and supporting her family. Rita maintains her knowledge in the teaching field to keep up to date with developments and skills, and has never lost the desire for knowledge.
Rita has been very successful throughout her study at Victoria University of Wellington, despite English being her third language. She gives credit to the Pasifika Student Learning Support team for being passionate about helping Pasifika students, and for giving clear and helpful advice on study and academic writing skills and time management skills. Passion and enthusiasm are infectious, and Rita found a lot of passion in the Pasifika staff on-campus.
When study became difficult, Rita’s motivation to continue and to finish came from her desire to see Matiti Tokelau become a quality Early Childhood Education centre, and her desire to see the Tokelauan language maintained. She also loves to work with Pasifika children and to get the chance to see the Tokelauan culture and language alive in the faces of the next generation of New Zealand Tokelauans.
Rita enjoyed her time at Victoria University of Wellington. It was a very different environment to what she was used to, but it was also an environment that allowed her to engage in high quality education and to express her skill and talent in her chosen field of study. Rita thanks the University’s supportive environment for allowing her to open her mind to new ways of thinking, as well as the opportunity to test her own theories and beliefs about education.
Rita is currently considering a Master’s in Education, to further research the transition of Pasifika children from Early Childhood Education to primary school. Rita continues to support her family and grandchildren however she can, as they have always supported, and continue to support and encourage her through further study and her work with Matiti Tokelau and her local and wider community.