Pasifika Academics with Adversity in Childhood: Stories of Resilience
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This research concerns the stories of resilience from adverse childhood experiences as told by eight Pasifika academics. Studies pertaining to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the phenomenon of resilience have multiplied exponentially in the Northern Hemisphere over the last two decades, yet very few have emerged in the Pacific region. This may be due to the individualistic nature of these studies. The need for enhancing the resilience of Pasifika learners has propagated numerous reports and studies, and though quite helpful as to how the students would be supported by their collective values and culture, they were not specific to ACEs or resilience from adversity. The Pasifika academics in this study have varied heritages, including Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island Māori, Niuean, Fijian and European. They come from diverse traditions and yet have shared collectivist values that embrace family, reciprocity, spirituality, and relationships that support and guide them throughout their lifetimes. The participants shared their stories of resilience and their childhood hardships in un-timed, unstructured interviews, that adhered to the principles of talanoa, notably mutual transparency, authenticity, and empathy. These principles set the tone of the research process and tempered the critical realist (CR) methodology used in this study. Once reviewed by the participants, the interview transcripts were analysed in depth using thematic analysis (TA) with the assistance of NVIVO. Findings indicated that a) Pasifika adversity and resilience must be seen through a culture-specific lens, and b) the participants’ endurance to adversity and the stability of their resilience was directly related to the degree they were supported by their indigenous values; specifically, connection to their own individual culture, their spiritual support, and their family foundation. Clinical implications point to the necessity that any research or therapeutic assessment tool for measuring or evaluating Pasifika adversity and/or resilience to adversity be informed by the individual Pasifika/Pacific cultural traditions and values of the participants studied or the clients seen. It follows, then, that any clinical or social work that develops from these assessments be facilitated by practitioners that are culturally competent and provide culturally safe environments for the people they serve. Future research is needed to explore these implications and their effectiveness for Pasifika peoples of New Zealand.