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Interview with Makalio "Max" Leo

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Max Leo was born November 2, 1962 in Samoa. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Early life in Samoa - family history - Samoan traditions and village life - becoming a priest - traveling to Rome - leaving Rome and coming to Minnesota - participating in Polynesian festivals in Minnesota - Samoans around the United States - working - helping Samoans back in Samoa - meeting his wife and getting married - traveling to New Zealand - hopes for the future.

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Asian American & Pacific Islander
Oral History Project
Narrator: Makalio "Max" Leo Interviewer: David Zander

MAKALIO “MAX” LEO
Narrators

DAVID ZANDER
Interviewer

Cover design: Kim Jackson Copyright © 2012 by Minnesota Historical Society All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy and recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Oral History Office, Minnesota Historical Society, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102.

THE MINNESOTA ASIAN COMMUNITIES ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
The Asian population of Minnesota has grown dramatically since 1980, and in particular during the period from 1990 to the present. The Asian community is one of the largest and most diverse in the state, and is particularly noteworthy because its growth has been spread across such a wide spectrum of ethnic groups. The Minnesota Historical Society and the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans formed a partnership to create a series of projects of oral history interviews with Asian community leaders. The projects are intended to help chronicle the history, successes, challenges, and contributions of this diverse and highly important group of Minnesotans. During the past twenty years the Minnesota Historical Society has successfully worked with many immigrant communities in the state to ensure that the stories of their arrival, settlement, and adjustment to life in Minnesota becomes part of the historical record. While the Society has worked with the Asian Indian, Tibetan, Cambodian and Hmong communities in the recent past, the current project includes interviews with members of the Vietnamese, Filipino, Lao and Korean communities, with more planned for the future. These new projects have created an expanded record that that better represents the Asian community and its importance to the state. The project could not have succeeded without the efforts of a remarkable group of advisors who helped frame the topics for discussion, and the narrators who shared their inspiring stories in each interview. We are deeply grateful for their interest and their commitment to the cause of history.

James E. Fogerty Minnesota Historical Society

Kao Ly Ilean Her Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans

 

THE INTERVIEW
 

   

Makalio “Max” Leo & Gail Leo Narrators David Zander & Akiko Tanaka Interviewers May 15, 2012 Plymouth, Minnesota

David Zander Akiko Tanaka Makalio “Max” Leo Gail Leo

-DZ -AT -ML -GL

DZ: My name is David Zander, interviewer, and I have my friend here, Akiko, to assist. Akiko, can you give your name? AT: Akiko Tanaka. DZ: And we are at the home of Max Leo, Makalio Leo, in Plymouth, and so we will start this interview. So, Max, you were born in Samoa. ML: Yup. DZ: I want to ask you your first memories – what are your very first memories when you were small, a small child. ML: Boy… back home. When I grew up in the big island of Samoa – it’s called Savai’i… that’s… Samoa’s populated with four main islands. That’s not including the American Samoa, where the territory of the United States, but I originally from the Samoa, independence country. So, I grew up in the island of Savai’i, and my village name is Fahala, and the district of Palaui. And, so, [race up there] is Hawaiian, like you said, David. It’s exciting, you know, you didn’t grow up here, like this country, like everything you have here. But over there, back home, you know, but it was so happy because of the get together way of life back home, like in the evening, six o’clock in the evening, you will hear the bell ring from the pastor. Everybody’s got to get in the house, because you gotta say the grace, the prayer. They give the whole village one hour to say a prayer. And after that, then either the social hour comes, then people eating and get together, so it’s so much more social there… because we don’t have a TV… we don’t have a telephone. So most of the time you spend with your siblings, your brothers and sisters. So, that’s what I miss a lot here, when I’m here, because you will see them, even though you’re mad at, almost you could kill your brother or your sister, but the next hour is the best friends is truly [blood ] for you. It’s kind of, like I told my wife, I always homesick. I hope someday when I go back. I want to go back home. Someday.

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DZ: To live. ML: To live. Because, even here, you got everything, but for me, speaking to myself, it’s not fully happy about way of life, ‘cause, I know, you get up in the morning here to go to work, but, you know, back home, if you’re not working, always have things to survive. You can survive from growing crops, fruit, raise chicken, pigs, cattle, and all that kind of stuff. Or, you go fishing. So, you always… and then you, you know, is, like I say, if you not working you can grow all that stuff and send it to the market. You know, that’s the way you support yourself, too. So, it’s, you know, a lot different, the differences of two cultures. I speak to between the American culture and the Samoan culture. Because, I never forget the first time I came here, 1988, in August. Got to the plane – I came here to study, be as a priest, for the Catholic Church. So we came, the three of us, so we got here in August. It was summer, you know, nice, beautiful weather. So, and the priest say – Where’s your winter coat? [Chuckles] You know, blanket – all that kind of stuff. So, you know, the weather was, is different, until we got to the time that we start changing the weather in August, September, October. It’s getting colder and colder, and it was a culture shock. DZ: Let’s go back to get a little more of your early life in Samoa, Fahala. When were you born? ML: I was born November 2nd, 1962. DZ: And Fahala was a village, quite small? ML: Yeah, this was a village, yup. DZ: And the bell would ring for church. Who was your family? ML: I grew up… my parents and my six brothers and six sisters, so I came out of a big family. I am the third youngest of the family. DZ: And your parents, what were your parents’ names? ML: They all pass away. My parents’ name is Tietie, and my mom’s name is Telafua. DZ: Tietie is your father and Telafua is your mother. Do you have last names in Samoa? ML: Yup. That’s where they come up with the last name, it’s Leo. DZ: Where does the name Leo come from? ML: Leo, it comes from my great-great-parent. DZ: So, your parents were alive. How about grandparents, when you were small? ML: When I grew up I got only one grandfather left in my mom and my dad’s side. So, my grampa, when I was young, he pass away.

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DZ: So, your ancestry on both sides…Is it Samoan or is there other influences? ML: It’s all Samoan. DZ: In Hawaii, we find Chinese, Japanese. Hawaiian, Portuguese, Irish-Hawaiian, but on both sides you were Samoan? ML: Yup, my mom and my dad’s are both Samoan. DZ: How big was the village of Fahala? ML: Oh, I think it was 2,500 people. DZ: Quite big. And in the village the bell’s ringing, and everybody would go say grace… was that Catholic? ML: It was all different, three denominations were there… the Mormon and the Presbyterian… it’s called the Presbyterian, but it’s called Samoan Congregation Church. And then Catholic. DZ: Were you Catholic on both sides? ML: No, my mom is from Presbyterian. My dad grew up as Catholic all his life through. DZ: So in Samoan history, that’s from the missionaries who came in ML: Yeah, the missionaries came in 1880, somewhere like that and the London Society was the first to arrive to Samoa. And, I think they just celebrate d– what was that – 150 years in Samoa, and then after that, Catholic people. But the Catholic missionary came over to Samoa. DZ: We’ll get you to talk about going to school in a minute. As a kid, what things do you remember that might have been really Samoan – games you played or things you did? ML: Yeah, it’s a lot of real Samoan tradition in my family, you know. When I grew up, we play rugby. In the evening we play volleyball. You know, we have canoeing in the ocean. We live by the ocean, by the way, so… my most memories for me is to look back to my young age is like you have, you go to the next door – because we live in the open house in those times. So, it’s not like have a lock in your house, no. It’s a part of your culture… if you go somewhere, you will yell at the next person – Hey, watch out for the house, if it’s raining. Then, because most of those times the house had the window were… the women weave those coconut leaves to make a window for the house… DZ: Window blinds? ML: Blinds, the blinds. So, we just yell – Hey, I’m going to go to the plantation, or I’m going fishing, or I’m going this way – please can you look at the house if it’s raining, you know… ‘cause most of the time, like I say, you don’t have, at that time we don’t have electricity… at that
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time we have electricity when I grew up, but the electricity will come like six o’clock in the evening and shut down at ten o’clock at night. So, mostly there’s no electricity, and we don’t have any stove or oven or anything like that. So, go back there to those days, and that’s where, like I say, they bring the community togetherness in the family, because of everything they do together. Everything, eating together. It’s not like – Oh, I’m not gonna eat tonight, you save me some food – no, you gotta eat, everybody together. So, when you cook the food, it’s the same thing. You cook the food together. That’s why people always say Samoan men cook. Women stay home, clean the house. Men cook the food in the Samoan cooking house. We call that falle. DZ: What is falle? ML: Falle means a house. So, those are the old ways of doing things… so, maybe you spend more time with your sister or your brother while you’re doing… or your sister-in-law, or you cook in this… prepare the food for your family. So, in the Sunday, when I grew up – that’s the other thing – I hope we don’t change that. It’s the fact that every morning, before everybody else, you’ve gotta cook your food before you go to church. There’s a church time at eight o’clock in the morning. So everybody in the village where I grew up gotta cooking the food earlier, so like five o’clock in the morning, so like I say, it’s not like cooking on like a gas grill, or anything. We used the rocks. It’s called oomoo. So, it’s kind of like a Hawaiian style, like the way they cook their food, too, under the ground. DZ: In fire pits? ML: Yup, because that’s the way my dad would always tell me, us, that that’s the way we… they take the food longer, because no refrigerator or freezer or anything, so what they do, they dig the ground, they put fire in it, and heat it up, and then put the food there to cook. So after then, when they get ready to eat, we will bring the part of the food to eat, but they still keeping that food underground to keep for more days, instead of bring it out and then rotten, you know, because of the climate, the weather, you know, the climate, the temperature is different, it’s not like here. DZ: Let’s talk about climate and differences there. I lived on the equator, I lived in Kenya, and the big shock for me was it always got dark at six fifteen there all year round at the same time, at six-fifteen. And that was hard to adjust to, no long summer days, or shorter days in winter. How close are you to the equator there in Samoa? ML: It’s not that far. It’s the same thing, too. It gets dark so quick, sometime, you know, it’s like six o’clock, seven o’clock it’s really dark evenings all the year round. And it’s a shock over here, when you come here and you’re sitting like right now. This day light shining on you another two or three hours before it’s dark. AT: Yeah. DZ: So, you had no long summer days… you didn’t have much difference during the year. It kind of got dark the same time every day.

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ML: There was nothing electronic, anything like that. I’ll never forget the first time when they have a TV in our village. The screen of the TV, David, is like this (small)… and it’s an open house. The high chief sitting – that’s the only person sitting on a chair. Every evening on Sunday, it’s all… they love to watch wrestling. [General laughter] AT: OK. ML: Back in Samoa, when I grew up, we would go twice a day on Sunday to church, in the morning and in the afternoon. As soon as after the afternoon, like five o’clock, everybody kinda walk towards where this guy’s house, and everybody sit on the rocks, or on the grass, but as long as you see the screen… is so funny, the guy, the old man sitting up there holding like a walking stick . Kids don’t ever make a noise. He will slam that walking stick on your head and kick you out. Everybody’s mellow, no matter what age you are. But they all are watching this small, tiny screen. Those memories keep coming, it’s the funniest thing, it’s the funniest thing that you will never forget. DZ: Tell me about the chiefs… it sounds like you still had chiefs in the village. ML: Yup. The chief is elected… it’s kind of complicated the way they do it right now, but in the old time, it go by whoever is high rank in the paramount chiefs, then the next one. So, if it’s something [remain] really, really important in Samoa. For example, Maliatoa is the head of state. They used to be the king of Samoa. So, that’s the high chief name – Maliatoa. So, when that person dies, you know, it took forever to select another one to fill this spot. Now, like I say to you guys at the beginning of this interview, I hope they still keep that, because it come in a lifestyle now, it’s all politics. Because, now – like I talk to another Samoan guy couple weeks ago about this kind of thing – you know – it never – it’s nothing to cost to select that person, because they all come out with all this extended family all around with to select who’s going to be the next high chief. But right now, you know, I think because people now in Samoa more educated now, than before. I remember my dad… I think he went as far as second grade or something like that, and was done schooling. So, now, in that old time, it was hardly, was English public speaking back home was not that big issue now. And now, I can see now from even I live here in Minnesota, in United States, and I can search on a thing on the website about Samoan stuff – It’s amazing how it changed so fast. And, like I say, it’s sad, because I always remember the guy, the old man, is a white guy. When I was working part-time at the health club in Plymouth, and he came to me, he say – Where you from? I say – I’m from Samoa. He said – You know what, you keep praying the Lord tell the high chief and all those people – don’t change your culture. I say – Why do you say that? He said, Look in Hawaii. They always, I will be honest to you for this interview – They always say – Someday Japan will run all that island there. AT: Oh, really? ML: [Chuckles] That’s what the old man say to me, because there’s a lot of influence from outside. And that’s what he told me, “When I was there in the World War II, and I stay in Hawaii, the tallest building there was only two stories high. Do you know right now? It’s like you walk downtown Manhattan, downtown Honolulu is like New York. Because of the changes.
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Some change is good, but the people like me pray every time, I hope we’ll keep our culture, because all this influence from outside– it’s a good influence, but the beauty of the islands is going to be lost,. Because when you go there on the beach right now, we can just put your tent up, nobody bothers it. Someday – and I heard that now – you put your tent over there, it will cost you ten bucks. It costs you money, because of that influence. So, that’s my concern, back in there. The island where I grew up is the biggest island in Samoa. It’s called Savai’i. And it’s beautiful. I always talk highly about Savai’i, because it’s so beautiful, and they keep… that’s where they keep their culture, you know, for people get up in the morning, go to church, get together. You will see the community of women, the community of untitled men because there are one, two, three, four, five different groups of people in the village where I grew up. There’s a group of people called high chief. They title, we put their title name of high chief. And there’s a group of women, their husband is a high chief. And there’s a group – in Samoan it’s called a women group, but the women group are the people, are those women they grew up in that village, because the people in this village, the group of the men, that high chief and their wife is high chief, you know, those people are – they come from outside. They are outsiders; they married to people of the village. And then there’s group of untitled men called Taulealea. So those are the group of the people… those are the people when they have a meeting a really serious meeting at the village, these are the people that decided who’s going to (make decisions). DZ: Tell me about the old ways of Samoan justice, the power of the chiefs. ML: Before the courts were introduced or anything that, like, when somebody disobey the village or anything, or kill somebody… That’s the other thing I’m so proud about my culture. Because in older times when somebody kills somebody in the village, they’re not go straight to the courts. I know they take it to the court, but the court respect the culture, because the culture introduced into this problem, now, as the people murder in the village, so whoever the family of the person who killed this person, they will go there - they go there and apologize to the family of the deceased person. So, when they go there to do that in the culture, they apply the thing called iatoma. It’s a special fine mat, a piece of weaving, the old people weave that, so when somebody die – like for example, I kill this person, my family would bring this fine mat in front of the house of this person, and they cover me with this special fine mat to say – Forgive us. So, in old time, when they go to do that, the family of the deceased, no matter how much they angry, they would say, OK, you welcome to the family, we forgive you. DZ: So there were old ways of justice… ML: Yeah, they always would apply for the justice in the country. DZ: Let’s look now at how your life led you to coming to America…. ML: [Sings] Come to America! [General laughter]

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DZ: Where did you go to school? ML: Yeah, that’s one of the other things I told my daughter – Dad walk five miles to school – one way – and five miles back. You know the worst part? No shoes. No shoes. My family was poor. You know, they can’t afford it. Well, fifteen kids, you know. Only one source of income is my dad, is a fisher, that’s all. And my mom helped him, so whoever the oldest one, they tried to help out the family, too. But, yeah, going to school. No food… the only thing you are bringing for lunch at school is a coconut, to eat it, or a banana. You know, before we had bread… the first time I saw bread coming into the village; it was like Heavenly Father was come from heaven. It’s a living bread. But, yeah, I keep telling that to my daughter, I say – Dad walked five miles one way to the school. DZ: So there was no school in your village, you had to go to another… ML: Nope, no school, we all go to a different… it’s a district school, so we gotta go there. So we walked there. The school had no desks. If you want a desk, your dad will build your own desk to bring with you, but everybody sit down on a mat. Then probably when I was fifteen… I go to the Catholic school, and they introduce us a new school built by New Zealand government. So, yeah, it was rough… but all those times, like I always say, you know, all those times that I came home, you know, I never forget it… we gotta eat back home after school, because there’s no lunch, no meal, whatever they call it. [Chuckles] ML: So, then you got home and eat the food, whatever mom made, it’s not like a fancy one, but it’s just the bread or taro or yams or anything. Then you just do your chores. DZ: What languages were used in school? ML: Samoan language. But, a little bit of English. DZ: We’ve mentioned your daughter a couple of times. So, let’s jump ahead a little bit – How many children do you have? ML: I have one. DZ: One daughter. ML: My own. But I have two step-daughters. My daughter’s name is Kayla. DZ: So, at fifteen you started Catholic school. And at some point, it sounds like you decided to leave Samoa… Tell me how you decided to come to America? ML: The reason I want to leave, it’s because like every morning my parents took us to the church at six o’clock in the morning – every morning! Never miss it. So I keep looking at the priests who celebrate the mass, and that kind of kept me in that point (gave me the idea) that I
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want someday I wish I can be like that. So when I was twenty-one, I think, first time I left home, I went to Rome, Italy. I studied there for two-and-a-half years. AT: Oh, wow. DZ: In Samoa was there a big cathedral? ML: Yup. There’s a cathedral there. DZ: Did they give you a scholarship to go to Italy? ML: Yup. Yeah, they give us a scholarship to go there. To study to become a priest. Then I met John Paul II, in the Vatican. So, there was a group of us that went there, and in 1986 things didn’t go right because it was different, the way they treat us over there, so we decided we want to go back home to Samoa, leave Rome. So we went back to Samoa. So then we form a group there, in one of the villages where the city of Samoa was, and that’s where we get together. That’s why I decided to form another group to come here to Minnesota, and that’s why because I still wanted to continue my priesthood in that time. So, it was a great experience, you know, even it was, at that time, my English was terrible. I was so afraid somebody asking me in English a question, and I say – it was nerve-breaking. Oh my gosh, what is he going to ask me now, you know. I was afraid about it. DZ: So you went back to Samoa but you still wanted to go into the priesthood, so where did you go next? ML: When I got back there we stay with the cardinal. You know, the bishop is called the cardinal in the Catholic Church. So we stayed in his residence, all four of us, the ones that came back from Rome. And then we stayed there for quite awhile to prepare ourselves for the next… where is the next open spot for our scholarship. And then, finally, one of the priests came from the University of Saint Thomas. AT: Oh, really. ML: He was a Fulbright Scholar there, so that’s why I end up here. AT: OK. ML: In Rome, that’s where I met a priest from here. Because, the night we decided we want to leave the seminary in Rome, the superior told us – You guys can go find your own way, you know, if you want to go home. I said – Really. So, we walk. Two nights and a day, to find somebody to help us in Rome. Seven of us Samoan guys. So we walk, we walk, we walk. Finally we met this white guy. He got a collar, a Roman collar, so we ask him he speaking English. So, we all get together with him and ask him where he’s from, and that’s why we end up here… he’s from Minnesota. And that guy’s name is Father Kevin McDonough. He’s the one, if you ever want to go see a nice, good listen homily every Sunday, go to the church… it’s on University and Lexington, n ear I 94. The church name is Saint Peter Claver. When he started there, he was the
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first white priest to take care of that black community there. And now, when I went over there with… to see him, they was kind of like just a black community. It was a poor, bad neighborhood. DZ: There were seven of you in Rome and you meet Father Kevin McDonough. Did he help pay your fare back to Samoa? ML: Nope… well, he did indirectly, he said – Hey, I know, let me go… he’s a smart person. If you ever, sometime in the TV, sometimes on the TV, to defame the Catholic church for the priests molesting kids and all that kind of stuff, so he’s a big lawyer for the church. But, you know, back to your question, David. He didn’t pay, but he went and found, in the Vatican, our cardinal from Samoa there… he’s in Rome, so he’s the one who took us to the place where our cardinal was living there in Rome, and he’s the one who pay our ticket to go back home, the cardinal of the church. DZ: What went wrong in Rome for you? What was not working? ML: Well, what was not working over there is, you know, we go there to study to be a priest, but we went over there… we worked hard, building houses, mix big concrete, fences, everything. It’s a new seminary, but it was a hard working every day… at that time we would just study to learn the language, the Italian language, because they want us to learn that so we can go to school. But, it was too much, you know. And that’s why it kind of affected us (negatively)… then when we tell them, you know, and then they told us, “Hey, you guys want to leave, go ahead.” And that’s why we left the compound. DZ: So it was different from what you had hoped for. ML: Yeah, almost totally different. It’s a nice experience that you are in Rome and different, you see all different things… see the Vatican and all that kind of thing… but that’s not the purpose why we went there, we wanted to study there. DZ: So, you were used as labor, but you wanted to be studying theology… ML: Yup. DZ: So, seems like a miracle, you got back to Samoa, and you were staying with the cardinal… ML: We make a plantation there, cook for all of us. DZ: Sounds like you kept in contact with Father McDonough. ML: Yeah. He’s the one who married me and my wife. GL: Yeah, he’s a wonderful man. A very wonderful man. ML: And he’s the one who baptized my daughter, too.
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DZ: Gail, would you like to come and sit here? GL: If you want me to. I didn’t want to get into the middle of it all, but… DZ: We’re bringing Max’s wife Gail to the table, and so now there are four of us. GL: [Chuckles]. DZ: So, Max how did you get to Minnesota? ML: Well, we came back there to Samoa from Rome and then the priests came over from Minnesota, it was not Father Kevin McDonough, but he knew Father McDonough, but he came over because of one other Samoan guy, he came and studied at Saint Thomas. The priest came from Michigan, the dioceses of Michigan. So he’s the one who, when these priests here ask him about, if you want to go to Samoa. So he came to Samoa, the priest, one of the staff, one of the faculty from Saint Thomas came to Samoa. And that’s when they made the announcement that three of us will come here to study. And so, that’s why we prepare ourselves and got on a plane and head for Minnesota. DZ: You came straight to Minnesota. ML: Yeah, straight to Minnesota. DZ: In the summer. ML: In the summer. [General laughter] It was a beautiful August when we arrive in the International Airport in Minneapolis. DZ: This was late 1980s? ML: Yup, in ’88, 1988. DZ: I know that you spent a long time working at General Mills, so how did life develop from the University of Saint Thomas to leaving the church and working at General Mills? ML: Well, when I still there at St Thomas and that’s when Gail came on board. When we put on a Polynesian event at the university, for international students of the University of Minnesota. We are all three of us, we are in a group, an association, so the faculty asks us if we can put some kind of Polynesian night for the school. Yes. So, then we try to find if any Samoan people live here in Minnesota. So, we end up we find some of the Samoan friends of us and also we found the music group. I don’t know if you guys remember, but there was a Tongan group here from

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Tonga. Both parents are from Tonga, but there are seventeen kids. They used to be a popular group, the singer. It’s called the Jets, right? GL: The Jets. ML: In the ‘80s, it was a popular group. So when we find out they were here, they willing to help us to prepare like a Hawaiian show, because their mom and the kids, they are really good then. And that’s why Gail came in to get to know her, because of that group. She knows the family and the kids. They go to church together in that time. DZ: So, Gail, were you at the University of Saint Thomas? GL: No, no. We were just helping, putting on a Polynesian show, and so I was helping with that. ML: And that’s why, when she saw the Samoan guy dance, that’s why she fall in love with him. [General laughter] See how to put the story together now, David? [General laughter] DZ: So, you were dancing that evening for the Polynesian show. ML: So that’s why I left the priesthood and we stayed living here. Gail was living in her own place; I live in my own place, because my parents, they always tell us… You can’t live with your girlfriend… until you got married. GL: I got that from my parents, too. [Chuckles] ML: So we both lived separate, you know. DZ: Samoan life was very religious, very Catholic, and yet, it sounds like you must have learned Samoan dances, songs… GL: Oh, he can dance, I can tell you. DZ: How did you learn the songs? ML: I learn from my dad…he is a little musician person, and my brothers, oldest one, it’s the same thing… they are musicians – all. When they played, you know, in Hawaii it called ukulele, you know, those little string guitars. It’s the best thing in the evening when after supper can sing a song together, and all that kind of fun… we used to sing a song inside the village, just for entertainment. But it was fun memories. Those are the memories I never forget… and learn the language and dance. So, I was joining a youth group back home, and that’s one of the things that they decided to do, was a group dance. So, you know, whenever somebody birthday or
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weddings, we do that. But, it’s a thing that, you know each person in their own country and culture. You’ve gotta keep your way, the things are in your life. DZ: Any festivals where these dances were very strong? ML: Oh yes. Here, in Minnesota, some of the group used to be – what you call it – they used to perform on the Festival of Nations, but our group was so… it was a big one in the ‘90s, and then pretty soon is… back to here in Minnesota, when I left the priesthood, you know, we got married, we form a group, a Samoan Association, and I was the president of the Samoan Association those times. So, and then, Salo and I and the other people write the by-law for our group, the by-law and all that – the mission and all that. And that’s one of the mission that we decided we wanted to do here, is to teach our kids how to dance Samoan, how to make the food back home without any electricity used, and that’s why I introduce them to go camping in the summertime, because we cook the food back home, we make the – oomoo, cooking, where you heat up the rocks and all that kind, and cook the food there. So it was a lotta fun, you know. GL: Everybody went. ML: Even non-Samoan people we invited to come. They love it. GL: They love it. ML: Because of the culture. DZ: Where did you go camping? ML: We used to go camping – we still go here in the Baker Park. DZ: Oh yes, not far. ML: Not far from here. GL: They do a lot of singing at night and… ML: Yeah, a lot of guitar and ukulele. DZ: This is very big; it seems, in Pacific Islander life. The Hawaiians play ukulele and they sing… ML: Oh yeah, and they’re all friends, non-Samoans, like I say – they love it! GL: They love it. They love to come. ML: They love to come. If I didn’t invite them, they were mad at me. Every year. So Faamati, she’s the one who planning the camp this year. You guys welcome to come, on the 4th of July weekend.
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AT: OK. ML: We cook. That’s the entire thing. Food – man! DZ: At Baker Park? ML: Baker Park. DZ: Thank you for the invite. The Samoan Association – does it still exist? ML: Not really. I try to, but you know, every people have a different opinion, and I always tell them… they try to force, you know, different way than, you know, for the other people. But like I told them, I say, this is not Samoa. This is America. Samoa, if you don’t do it, you pay the fine, so you gotta do it. You gotta come to this association. Here, nobody cares. If you don’t want to, why are you want to go for? It’s kind of the same thing, you guys try to do this Asian-Pacific get-together, but we are all from different background, different… but, I told you, it’s a different way of culture, because – we live here, we live here in America, and it’s a different way… and I can guarantee, a lot of those people they love to put together a whole group. But there’s also, you know, they always like something… stir the pot around that thing. It’s human nature, you know. But, I try – Salo talk to me, even Faamati, too. They want us to start over again. It was really… it was really good. It was really fun. I did that when I was the president every now in July you know, those days we camp Memorial weekend, we camp Fourth July weekend, the Labor Day, but also in the wintertime, in Christmastime, I found a place for hosting the Christmas party for Samoan community. Then, after… at the New Years we still kind of do that now. Is the New Years Day we call Samoan play day, a Polynesian play day. We use the church and people bring the food and then bring their kids and they will play basketball, volleyball, in the church. DZ: For the record, we mentioned Faamati, and she has been interviewed for these oral histories, she is a young Samoan woman here, and we mentioned Salo, who is a lawyer from Samoa. Max, how many Samoans do you think are in Minnesota? ML: Right now, that is close to a hundred. It’s still small. It used to be large, but like a lot of people move out. A lot of people move at least twenty percent they move out to Utah, so… they, they want to move closer to where the most Samoans live, to be with a lot of Samoans. DZ: So where is the largest group of Samoans in the US? ML: I think mostly California, in the different areas of California. Oceanside, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, but mostly the largest group living now is in Utah, in Salt Lake City. DZ: You mentioned Mormons in Samoa. Is that because they were Mormon? ML: I think so. Because there are a lot of these people used to live here, they are all Mormon. And then they moved there.

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DZ: I think many Minnesotans are not aware that the Mormons were in Hawaii and in Samoa too. GL: I’m a Mormon. [Chuckles] ML: Married to a Catholic guy. GL: Married to a Catholic guy. DZ: Gail, so where did you grow up? GL: In Bloomington, Minnesota. DZ: OK, so you were a Mormon in Bloomington. GL: Grew up being a Mormon, here, yeah. ML: Her dad is a strong person in the Mormon Church. So, yeah, that’s why we… and the other thing, probably, the weather – that’s where most of the people I heard from, Samoan, they move back, is the weather. But I think the other reason why they move back there is now about the cost of going back home to visit family, because you pay another $500 from here to Los Angeles to get the plane there to go to Samoa. But if you live in that part of the country – Utah and Los Angeles – you just pay one airline ticket to back and forth. So, it’s cheaper that way. That’s where – if you go there, a lot of Samoan that live in that west coast of the United States, like Portland, like Seattle – a lot of Samoans… the other group I heard a lot is Utah, and also here in Saint Louis, Missouri. They have their own Samoan independent place there, same as Utah. DZ: So, let’s look at what led you to be working at General Mills now, in this story. [General laughter] What was your major when you were at Saint Thomas? ML: I was studying to be a priest… my major was psychology. I wish I had finished it, but I didn’t finish it. So three years I went to school there… Then I got my wife and now the kids and gotta work first. So I hope someday I will finish… DZ: What was your first job? ML: My first job? Never forget the first job in my life in America… I came here after we marry – oh no, before that… I was like ready for any job. I don’t care what job. So, I went and applied for a job at the Radisson Hotel in Plymouth, and also I put application at… every time I drove by on Winnetka, that McDonalds over there always reminds me… it was funny, so I put two applications in, and went home. So I came and they call me McDonalds, and say – Well, here’s your uniform. And you gonna start next week. And the same time the Radisson Hotel call me and say – You got a job now, if you want to work for us. I went home that evening – Gail was working. I put my uniform on, MacDonald uniform on, and I cooked the food, waiting for her. [Chuckles] But I never work at McDonalds. So, it’s funny – the hat, the uniform, but I accept the Radisson Hotel. So, when I work there, I deal with – it’s called Conference Service—and a lot of
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big company like 3M, Honeywell, General Mills, they come there, hold meetings there. So, I was assisting this lady, at the Radisson, she was coming to a meeting over there. She’s from General Mills, and I ask her– Hey, do you guys have any hiring over there?… I was almost over a year to know this lady, every day she come, dealing with her for conferences. I say, I will put in the application. So I filled the application. She took it with her. So, when she came back they have a meeting. I came the next day and she was crying. I say, Kim, why are you crying? She said… we left the most important document, all the paperwork of their meeting on the table in the room, the conference room. The cleaning crew threw away the most important part. It is already in the dumpster. I say, really? I went and dig those thing out of there, at the conference dumpster. I found the box. The next day she called me for an interview over. And she works for the human resource. So, I went there and so I interview. She gave me the certificate, me and my wife, to stay at the Radisson Downtown Minneapolis. Dinner for two for the weekend, and we went there. So, it was amazing DZ: Sounds like a second miracle in your life. ML: Lucky, the right time, and that’s how I ended up working at General Mills. DZ: What job did they give you at General Mills? ML: When I got over there the job they were giving me was the mail room, sorting and deliver mail. So, as long as you just got here, that’s all you need. OK. You know, one of those things that you go – “Aaah – I don’t like it. I won’t last a week.” Look what happened? I’m being there nineteen years. [General laughter] DZ: Did your jobs change? ML: Yeah, it changed. I worked in the mailroom for six months. Then I changed to work as a printer. I was printing those… testing for those cereal boxes. So, I was running – me and another lady, I was doing that machine. Whatever time the testing come is General Mills for new products, I’m the one who first… and this lady first read what’s on the box and try to put in the box, and then we send to the factory, you know, to print it out for the big amount. So that’s why I end up over the General Mills. [Laughter] DZ: Max, where would you like to take the story from here? ML: I’ll only take this story to a different where we’re gonna heading, but I want to end the story where I grew up, because it’s a story of your lifetime, you know, where you grew up and then where you’re heading to, and where the end of the rainbow is to back to Savai’i, and my home beautiful island of Samoa. Because, the fact I saw most everything here in America. It’s good. It’s good life, really good life. I learn a lot. I learn a lot now, only like I say to the people when they ask me – What did you learn from the priesthood when you study? I said, yeah, a lot of things I learned from. Not only for my spirituality, but it’s for my relationship with my wife. Because, when it’s trouble and difficult times arise in my relationship, that’s the time I think back to the seminary in my time I was there, to think about a way I can approach – because you married to a different person, different culture. It’s different, you know. Like I say the beginning
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of the interview, David, you’ve gotta respect where you at right now. The culture that we are right now. But we still under the culture that we grew up, in your culture, my culture, your culture. So I will never, never change that in my life. I will always call me as a Samoan boy. DZ: One of the lessons in anthropology. I studied anthropology, and my professor studied people from the Dominican Republic, and what they found was – we think everybody came to stay here in America, life in America, but there were strong links to villages back home and many people had this goal that they would retire, go back. People from Trinidad, people from Jamaica. A lot of people are returning home… so that was a surprise, that links to the home villages are strong. ML: It’s strong. And I look back, right now I communicate with my sisters back home – they still live there – and like I always tell my sister, they still struggle with finance and all that kind of stuff, send the kids at school. I try to help as much as I can for them right now, because I been in their shoes. I lived there. I didn’t have shoes on my feet for a long time. In the Christmas time… GL: His feet are so big! [Laughter] Sorry, I had to add that. ML: In the Christmastime, if you have a new sandal or new skirt, like we call lava lava, like this kind of material like this? That’s the best Christmas for you. GL: He wears his all the time. ML: But you know, you not asking a lot. GL: In the islands… wrap around. ML: But the happy memories, whatever those times when I grew up back there, in those finding, those moments of joy… you will never forget. So, every time I eat something, now, every day, I thought about my sister and my brothers and their kids, I hope what they eat, I hope they have something to eat good there. I have a little money extra, I send there to help them, because I know where they… because, like I say, they need support, because right now I can look at the future of my family and my niece and my nephews back home now. They better educated than when I grew up there, because the struggle, try to find the school fee, the tuition, to pay year’s tuition back home, because even with a small amount, but it was so hard to find that amount of money to send you to school, so… every day, like back to the seminary, I think that’s most important help me out in my whole life, now living here. Now, for the condition of my wife right now, for her kidney failure and all that kind of stuff… She’s going three days a week at the dialysis …we waiting, I hope God will give somebody’s thought to give her a kidney transplant someday. But, you know, it’s my spiritual, it give me power, keep me going. Look at her and look at my sixteen-years-old girls. It keeps me going, work every day, because I need to put the food on their table for them to eat and buy something what they need for. And someday, and I try to keep remind her that – now when you live here you’ve gotta study hard your school work and ... Stay away from trouble. My mission to you – Someday if you find a good job, please help your aunties and your uncles back home, your cousins there. Because they need help. Because Samoan person, when Samoan person left the country, Samoan soil, to go overseas, the
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first priority in each person leave the country are go and help the family back home. That’s all. So that’s why all these people everywhere, that was their priority, to come to this country or any country in the world, find a good job or find a job and support family back home. DZ: That’s a story shared by many immigrants. Somali helping, or the Korean helping,… ML: All the Korean… it’s the same, you know… DZ: Because of the poverty… ML: Every time I went to send the money order to back home I always met with a lot of Somalia, and Ethiopia, you know… and that’s the same purpose I’m standing in that line, wait for my turn to send the money. It’s the same purpose that guy in front of me, is waiting to send the money support their family back home. So, it’s something if you help them, I would be happy. I would happy as much. I wish I told them every time, send an e-mail or text that I wish I had a lot of money, I would help you guys, but I had a family here. Whatever is left from my budget for this month, I gotta send home to help my sisters and my brothers and my nephews and my nieces. So, it’s important that we live here in this beautiful land of opportunity and to grow up here and live here is a interesting journey, but the journey is not done yet. Like I told you guys, someday when I retire, she healthy, we live in Samoa. DZ: It sounds very peaceful. I just can picture it, the peacefulness of the village. ML: Um hum. It’s peaceful…you see, not everybody like have everything, like cars, TV, but the most important… It touch me every time I thought about that is, it’s the happiness, the face smile, the little boy two years old playing, not even with the football or a toy with the car toy, you know, those things. But, they so happy if he got a little piece of something that they play with the kids next door – that’s the thing that… I admire them, and they come together and leave together – that’s a family, you know. Here, the comparison to life here, is like – you know, people will ask me – Is your daughters gonna live with you for the rest of her life… always? As long as she wanna live with us, I don’t care. I don’t know… but, you know, like… and I hear some people at work say – I can’t wait when she turns eighteen or he turns sixteen or seventeen [Chuckles]… he’s gotta out of the house. GL: I feel sad for them. ML: That’s the thing I ask the people – and they ask me – Do you think, what is the problem in the society right now? And that’s what I say. Any problems are always created from the home. Around this table, here. Because that kid, if he starts his life surrounded with loving people and the parents here in this table here, every day, instead of spending his time with the friends, but, you know, it’s a big difference. But, right now, we can’t monitor them twenty-four/seven, because they have friends. They spend more time with their friends than with their parents. But, in the Samoan culture, when you come from school, changed out of your uniform, get a knife and a machete and go to the plantation, get the food for the night for the family, so they always on your timing, it’s there, it’s basic. Many time in the evening, like before say a prayer in the

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evening, you always visit with your friends… you just have a little time to spend go play volleyball, swimming in the river or the ocean. It’s always time with your family. DZ: This seems similar to Dixie Riley’s girls (a Hawaiian and Tonga family). They said – We always had dinner together. Whether it was late, but it seems to be that in their Hawaiian Tonga family they always, always had family get-togethers. Sounded very beautiful. ML: It is. Look at right now. My grandkids, they play softball, all sport arena. Guess where the dinner? On the road at McDonald’s drive-through. Grab the McDonald, rush to the wherever the basketball court or whatever, the soccer field at – that’s your dinner, from there to there. From the McDonald over there. There’s no get-together right here. And I don’t know why they call this a dinner table, they never use it. But we use it. GL: We use it. ML: So I try to bring that to the attention of my daughter, Gail and myself. This is not only eating together, but it’s a shared story – How was your day your school? Did you learn anything today? How’s your dialysis today. Did you feel OK? And they ask me how’s my work. It’s a time together and then watch a little bit TV, and that’s it. Like I say in Samoa, I think that’s the other thing, why Samoa is so strong in the oldest time, because not much time wasted watching TV or telephone, ‘cause my experience about no phone back home – it make a good communication then, because not only you do your exercise, to walk to tell your family two or three miles away, but you get to see them instead of pick up the phone and call them and then that’s just it. Now, right here, if you don’t like David, I would just text to him. [Laughter] So we won’t talk, face-to-face talk, to the other side of the line. So I just text to him. I don’t care if he responds to me, but I less relieve what I feel about him, so it’s the communication thing. I brought up a big deal in back home. DZ: Akiko, you’ve done a lot of research, and are interested in parenting. Are there some questions you would like to ask? AT: Yes. I was wondering, you mentioned a little bit about your father, that he was a fisherman and he was good at music, but could you tell us a little bit about your mom. ML: Oh, my mom is… Mom is a stay-home mom. She would do a village committee stuff and she taking care of our, washing our clothes in the river, you know, no washing machine. So, her role for us is not only that, but she’s a tough lady. If you mess around with her, you know you’re gonna talk to her. My mom’s gonna talk to you. Because, I think that’s the thing for her – I get that from her in this way. Her see something – say right there. She never says something behind somebody’s back. That’s the thing that I love the most of my mom. She will speak her mind right away, and I think I did that, the same thing in myself, when I grew up – even right now, even at work, even at family, even wherever we go. I see something – if I upset at something, or somebody, I will say that. GL: Yup, he’ll say it.

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ML: I’ll say that in a different way, my message to that person. I don’t want to hurt somebody’s feelings, but I will bring in a different way to approach that person, and I think that’s where I learn, from my mom. It’s a person that you will tell right, no matter what, but my mom will say straight, will say, I don’t like this, and then you don’t do it again. So she stays home, cleaning the house, mostly. She will help my dad fishing, too. She doing a lot of weaving stuff, like baskets, hats… back home is nice cutting flowers, she would do that, and when she getting older so she was kind of like the master in the house, telling everybody… my dad, you know, my dad, so. But, it’s a thing that I won’t forget from her is that thing is, because like she told me – If you keep that angry to yourself, if you’re not telling right away, you’re not going to go good sleep. You get up in the morning, it’s going to bother you the whole day, and not only that, but it change your attitude, because that person, that one person, it bothers it. Why should you not tell them right now and get over it, than when you go home. So, I did the same thing at work, and that’s when my workers always telling me that – don’t mess around with this Samoan guy, [General laughter] because the fact that I told them when something going on at work I told the people at work, I say, you know, because you hear more story about each person at work, and you know more than anybody, even than their own, because you spend eight hours a day with these people. So, what I told them, I said – Leave your things, whatever happen at home. This is a new environment, in the workplace, so why are you bringing your garbage from home to destroy some people. So, I told them – Just get along, you know. GL: He always says that. He says that all the time. ML: Life is too short. It’s just get along. If you don’t like somebody, say that. I don’t want – even I told my boss – even I don’t want to – you know people at work, they will never be direct right to you, but they go around and tell the boss. So, I told my boss, once, when my boss come to me and say – Hey, Max, that’s what she say about blah, blah, blah about you. I went right away to that person. And I told them this: I will never learn what happen unless you come faceto-face with me. That, I know you reported to the boss, is our boss, but the problem is you and me, you know? So tell me right now, get over it, and then we go home and get along. GL: That’s what he always says – Let’s everybody get along. ML: That’s why I mention my wife – and I mention that a lot at work, too. That’s the same this person here, she mind her own business. GL: I do. ML: She never says any… she will talk about things, but she always… you ask her about something. Yes, it happened. DZ: You’ve been married about twenty-four years now? ML: Nope. We know each other five years before we got married. Our anniversary was last Sunday. Seventeen years, and we know each other five years. AT: A total of twenty-two.
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DZ: Gail, what should we know about Leo for his story? Are there some things we haven’t touched upon? What’s your experience? GL: Well, he’s a good worker, I can tell you that. And he can get quite – gets silly, a lot. He gets silly. But then, work things come up and things we gotta do, and he’s right on it. Everything. DZ: Does silly mean his sense of humor? GL: It’s just sometimes a little – he can get kind of silly sometime. Yeah, he does have a sense of humor, but he’s been a wonderful, wonderful man. DZ: Have you been to Samoa? GL: I did. ML: No, we went to New Zealand. GL: Oh no, New Zealand – that’s where we were. DZ: Tell us about your trip to New Zealand. ML: It was a first time this guy, Gail and Kayla met the rest of my siblings there and my whole family there. We were there for my niece’s wedding. So we got over there, it was really nice. Two weeks. Get to know the whole family and they love to see… Kayla is the only grandkids of my parents never seen when they died, so when they saw her it was really, it was a moment. I haven’t seen them for more than ten years when I move here, so it was a trip that I will never forget to see them and get to know more about these guy and them. It was a great… it was almost like a ceremony tradition wedding like in New Zealand, with the groom’s family and our family exchange gifts, like food, cow, you know. All that kinda. Always food, always food. Samoan culture! If you go any invitation, anything, if you’re not taking home a plate or anything they will call… that’s not a party. [Laughter] So when you have a party, you gotta make a lot of food. You gotta take it home. Samoan also, when you come, when you go into a house they will never ask you what you want to drink. They just bring it to you. They say it’s rude to us – what do you want to drink. You just give it to you. Let me say a joke for you guys. There was a Palani – white people is called in Samoan “Palani.” There was a white guy came to Samoa. He host by this Samoan family. When they have the evening dinner, after the evening dinner, they serve tea, so this Samoan of the pronunciation, and the English and so, this white guy sitting there. So every time the hostess sees the cup of tea is almost low, they just pour another one. So they come over and say – Do you want some more? So, the guy kept drinking the tea, and he tried to figure out, he said – But he listened really carefully and it was the fifth time. Instead he thought they said “Do you like Samoa?” So, finally the fifth one the guy said – No, thank you, are full. [Laughter] So, that kind of joke about it. DZ: You went to New Zealand for the wedding of a niece – so was this your brother or sister’s daughter?
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ML: No, that’s my sister daughter. DZ: Sister’s daughter. Have many Samoans gone to live in New Zealand? ML: Oh! The most half of the population of Samoa live in New Zealand. It’s close. Three, threeand-a-half hours by plane. Cheaper… the ticket, you know, like the plane is there. We pay $1,700 apiece to go there. It’s a lot of money. So, it’s a lot. But to go from Samoa to New Zealand, $300 or $400 dollars, Samoan money. So that’s why a lot of people are moving there and Australia, closer there. I know a lot of them move here, but a lot of people in New Zealand. DZ: So the wedding helped to bring the whole family together. ML: Oh yeah. It was the best get-together. GL: It was fun. ML: It was fun. Party and tell story, you know. Like back to there. Gosh, it was a whole night just telling a story. Kinda like you replay the tape recorder and reminds a whole thing. The picture of my sister and my brother, you know, always used to say -- Remember where we were little, we fight this and fight that. Remember when you angry about, or we boating or we went to the plantation. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing to see. It was nice, it was really nice. I hope someday we will do that again. But, we just live here and, like I said, someday probably General Mills would give me some money I can go home, I retire there. DZ: So, let’s bring the interview story to a close, and there’s different ways we can do it. I’d like to, perhaps, ask you your hopes, dreams, or hopes for your daughter. ML: I hope – and my future is, like I say when we come to the conclusion of this interview I like the part of what I started my story from back home in island of Savai’i, and to go back there again, because, you know, it’s important and I want, like I say to you guys in the middle of the interview, that I try to tell Kayla about that. Study hard, because people like her, someday when they want to go back where their dad or their mom coming from, to give back to the community, and I think that’s the most important thing to all of life, is give back to the community… to serve them. The thing that they didn’t have those times, when I grew up, but they have now, I want that to bring it to Samoa. For example, like always want to try to collect books and all that kind of stuff, to send it back home to use for the school. Clothes are the same thing. When the tsunami happened in Samoa in 2009, it killed 184 people. I went right to the General Mills Foundation and to ask them for assistance. So, they gave the money to relief… like $50,000 to the Red Cross through General Mills, through what I went there. So, because you look back there in Samoa where they are right now. They still struggle, but, like I said, I want the thing that they never have or it was too expensive in the time when I grew up, I want them, I want someday, in my hope, will bring it back to the islands. Now, the other thing I always try to do is to serve the community. Every month I join a group, it is my fifteenth year. Every Monday… that’s why, David, I didn’t do the interview yesterday, ‘cause I was a volunteer to feed the homeless people at downtown on Franklin and Clinton. It’s the Fish and Loaves. And General Mills, every month,
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they sponsor that, so I was joining with the other group. I’m the one with another guy cooking and General Mills only one dish every time. It’s spaghetti, so we cooked the spaghetti last night. [General laughter] So look at that… I always want to serve. GL: He does. ML: I always want to serve, and I think because of the beginning of my childhood when I look at that priest, I want to be like him some way. And I want to serve. I still want to fulfill that, and I want to do that, and that’s what I’m doing right now, is to help in serving poor people. Not only for this one, but I brought my daughters and my grandkids to the Dorothy Day Center downtown. Every other month we’re coming over there and serve there, with Gail and the kids. So, I bring them over there to show, like I told last night, one of the lady asked me – Why are you doing this? I say, I should bring my daughter. I say – I want her to see it, because every time I got a paycheck my daughter will say – I want this, Dad. I want that. I want that. I brought her over there that place and I show her, said – You know, sweetheart, look at these people they eating – whatever they have in their skin, that’s all they have. You have your own [table]. You have your own telephone. Most of the stuff you have. But those people, what inside their bag, that’s they have in their life, and that’s it. And let’s go back to the service – and that’s why I want to serve those. Someday I’ll do the same thing back home, to serve those people back in Samoa. The old people – go visit them. That’s my hope, go visit them, encourage them. Don’t give up in your life. And I told the same thing, when the first time we went in and see the doctor when they told me Gail's diagnosed with a kidney failure. She was so upset, and I can see it – you know suddenly it show up. But I told Gail: Don’t give up. GL: I never gave up. ML: You gotta be strong, too. GL: I feel good. ML: Because, when I took her to the dialysis every morning, five-thirty in the morning, I saw this man show up, and these people, another person pulled that person on the wheel chair or whatever, walker. I told – Honey, you are so blessed – you walk by yourself. Look at those people. Those people, they need somebody assist them to go to the – just about ten step to the place. So, my point is, for this interview, is my hope and my prayer every night I want to serve more, not only for here for the community, forever. And that’s why I participate in all this charity, to encourage, seeing them, because people need those right now; they need us. GL: And we go help with the kids. ML: They love it – and I show the kids. They have brand new shoes, they have this, you know – but those people, last night, we feed 280 people from all over the life. They came here – one guy, four kids. And that’s the most thing that touch me it’s the kids. That’s sad. Then they walk… when I left there they were heading down to the bridge and that’s where they gonna spend the night. Then you sit in your own bed and comfortable. If you hot, turn the air on, and those people… it’s a reminder… it reminds me back home when I grew up was nothing, but there’s a
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happiness, there was a happy family. There was a good communication, my dad show us to do that. Because, there’s eyes, like Mother Theresa. When I see the eyes on the street, I see the Christ’s eyes on those people. So, I speak the value of my own belief what I believe with, even if not believe it, but it’s bring me back home in the future, and my hope is that I can help those people there. Because I been there; I think that every woman and man, what are they doing. Do they have a cover and their roof on their head. But, it’s a part of us, you and I, for someday I will go there and help. DZ: I think the theme of your life, service, has really come through in the story. I think we have done that full circle. Akiko, anything you want to say, in closing this? AT: I really appreciate your story. ML: Oh, thank you! This is… because it’s always different ideas and different stories and makes a big difference in our society, because we live in our society that we are from all over the place, all over the world, and this kind of group like this, it brings us one. Because, no matter what kind of culture, what kind of religion you are or what kind… but we as a people, we as a group, we bond together, we create our future and our hope someday will bring it to the other part of the world and also here in Minnesota, because we’re so much trouble now, so much violence right now. Almost every time there was no good news on the TV. It’s always some bad news, so as a community, as Asian-Pacific, I think how we try to value our background where we come from and to create that moment to each family. I think we better life in the family. DZ: To hang on to the families. ML: Yeah, the values of life. DZ: I’m going to end here. I want to thank you both.

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