By Desiree Shelby
The Pacific Island Festival Association (PIFA), an organization that promotes the cultures of the indigenous people of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Each year, the San Diego chapter of PIFA holds a pageant and crowns Miss Pacific Islander. Mialani M. Love, a second year student at Grossmont, was named Miss Pacific islander of San Diego for 2011-2012.
“Being Miss PIFA is such a great honor,” Mialani stated, “I have been part of the organization for about six years. To be recognized by them in such a big way means so much to me.” Mialani was introduced to the Pacific Islander Festival Association by her mother who has been a member of PIFA since 2004 and is now its treasurer.
Mialani’s mother encouraged her to start volunteering at a young age, and Mialani continues to make volunteering a part of her adult life. She works with organizations such as San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, assisting teaching tiny tots ballet; Inner City Faith Fellowship, working with and mentoring the youth ministry; and, teaching Polynesian dance class. “PIFA is all about service- service to our community; service to our native cultures; and, service to our youth.”
The San Diego Miss Pacific Islander pageant was Mialani’s first. In order to enter the pageant, Mialani had to meet academic GPA requirements; be of Melanesian, Micronesian, or Polynesian descent; and, be a graduating high school senior or an undergraduate student in the San Diego area.
The pageant itself consisted of a personal interview portion; formal/traditional wear; and, Mialani’s favorite part: the talent competition. Mialani explained, “Pageants can be stressful when you aren’t used to them. For me, being able to dance during the talent portion calmed my nerves. In that moment, I wasn’t trying to win. I was just me being me, doing what I love but doing it for all of Samoa in a way. I was dancing for all of PIFA.”
Mialani encourages every one to learn more about PIFA and the different cultures that it represents.”There is a pretty big Pacific Islander population here at Grossmont. We’re a tight community. It’s nice to see some familiar faces around campus.”
She added that anyone can join the Pacific Islander Festival Association. “We hold lots of great events every year. Come out and volunteer with us or just come enjoy the festivities.” For more information about the Pacific Islander Festival Association, including membership applications and a calendar of events, visit www.pifasandiego.com.