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Stanford University PHD student receives second Tongan Language Certificate from Lo’au University

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 22/07/2019

The Lo’au University on Saturday presented its second Tongan Language Certificate to ‘Esiteli Hafoka of Vainii and Nuku’alofa after receiving her first certificate in 2017.

‘Esiteli is a current PHd student in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University.

Esiteli Hafoka encourages students to finish their studies and aim high.

“I think this course is not only important for Tongan students overseas but incredibly important for Tongan students here in Tonga. I think you really gain an understanding of who you are by understanding your own history.”

During the course, Hafoka hopes to aspire Tongan students overseas to pursue a similar course, highlighting the significance of the Tongan language and culture.

“For Tongans overseas, I’ve talked to a several of my friends who are PhD’s and they’ve expressed to me their wish to take a course like this – we talk in depth about the course, how learning our language can merely affects the way we collect data, the way we communicate and can make connections in our communities overseas and I think language barrier is really an issue for us.”

Meanwhile Professor Siosiua Lafitani from the University says, this course is unique because it focuses on the clans, tradition and culture.

Lafitani says some youth members are Tonganizing the English words and using it as their daily language and this is a main concern because young people are no longer interested in the traditional Tongan language as they claim they do not understand it.

Esiteli Hafoka is currently studying her post graduate diploma at Lo’au University.

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