Experience the magic of Polyfest: CWU’s Celebration of Pacific Islander Heritage

Mykah Koke-Filimaua, Staff Reporter

Get ready to be captivated by a vibrant tapestry of colors, sounds and traditions as CWU gears up to host their annual Polyfest on May 26. The celebration promises to be a melting pot of cultures, showcasing the rich diversity and heritage that thrives within the CWU community. 

The event is organized by CWU’s Polynesian club, PolyCentral, which aims to promote awareness and appreciation of Pacific Islander cultures on campus and in the community, according to the president of the Polynesian club, third-year Leiben Tivola Fesili. 

“I feel it’s my duty to make sure I give back to my community by doing all these events, especially this one, so getting ready for Polyfest means the world to me,” Fesili said. 

According to Fesili, attendees of Polyfest can look forward to an unforgettable experience that transcends the boundaries of language, age and background. 

Fesili said he hopes attendees learn how to show recognition to the Pacific Islanders who are at CWU. 

“After this event, I hope people are able to just see us and give us our spot at the table…we may be [few]…but our culture is what puts us out there, so after leaving the event, I hope they realize that we deserve a spot at the table with all the rest of the groups of people,” Fesili said. 

Polyfest promises an extensive lineup of cultural displays, including the many Islands in the Pacific kingdom, which is how Polynesians refer to their group of islands. According to Vice President of PolyCentral Josiah Nikolao, the islands that will be represented at Polyfest are Maori, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa and Hawaii. 

Fesili said that Polyfest will display the representation and culture of Pacific Islanders and their backgrounds.

According to first year business administration major Sefiona Telesa, who is a member of PolyCentral, the importance of representing her culture at Polyfest means everything.  

“Although our numbers are small, we pull up here for Polyfest to show out not only for our culture, but our grandparents’ and parents’ names, [who] came before us and paved the way for us to be here,” Telesa said. 

Sophomore biomedical science major Rena Tinoisamoa is another member of PolyCentral who talked about why it’s important to her to be a part of Polyfest. 

“We’re trying to show them that Polynesians are here at this school and represent our culture because here, in a city like Ellensburg, I don’t think a lot of people know what the Pacific Islands are and what their cultures represent,” Tinoisamoa said. 

The essence of Polyfest lies in its ability to transcend boundaries and foster a sense of belonging, according to sophomore accounting major Cameron Alefaio, another PolyCentral member. 

Alefaio shared a story of what made him want to do more for his community. 

“My uncle went and got the tribal tattoo, the Pe’a, and seeing him get it and earn it inspired me to want to do more for my community like he did,” Alefaio said. 

The Pe’a is a traditional Samoan tattoo, according to anavasamoana.com.

CWU’s Polyfest will be on May 26 in the SURC Ballroom and is free for all students.