PCC Culture Expert and Ambassador Speaks at TED Purdue
Kap Te‘o Tafiti, Senior Culture Ambassador at the Polynesian Cultural Center, was invited to speak at a TED Talks conference at Purdue University in May.
“They wanted someone who had firsthand knowledge of Polynesian culture to present at their TED Talks,” said Kap.
During his allotted time to speak (approximately 14 minutes), Kap explained the importance of cultural and linguistic preservation. He highlighted similarities the Samoan language shares with other Austronesian languages, such as Tongan, Hawaiian, Indonesian, Melanesian, and Tagalog. He also highlighted the distinctiveness of Samoan gender roles, specifically the responsibility that men have to prepare and cook meals.
Kap continued, “I tried to give information of where I come from and how I live my life. With the little time I had, I really paid tribute to my family. Besides introducing the Polynesian Cultural Center, I paid tribute to my mother, my father, my siblings, and my wife for pushing me to use all my knowledge and talents for good. My parents did not have the opportunity to get a formal education, but they pushed all of their children to be faithful in all things, develop our talents and to pursue higher education.”
When asked if he would have done anything differently were he able to do the TED presentation a second time, Kap explained, “That TED Talks theme was, “Tear Up the Box”, where the box represented confinement, limitations and non-creative solutions. There were boxes on the stage as visual props. I wish I had burned a box, which would have been a great visual of breaking down the barriers and confinements that we face individually. I’m all about creative solutions to problems.
Kap is a BYUH alumnus who received a B.A. in Fine Arts. His art is another way for him to share his culture and also his testimony. Kap said he loves to teach about Samoan culture. He has taught and entertained millions of people throughout the past two decades, according to a YouTube video.
John Osel Diaz, a BYUH alumnus and intern for the marketing department at the PCC, said, “Kap has been at it for quite a while. He’s legit. He’s a real Samoan. He’s got the culture down. I think he’s an advocate and an ambassador for both the Samoan culture and Polynesian culture in general. We’ve been trying to contact him to do more videos, but he just can’t because he’s busy with PCC, he’s busy with Church activities, and as a father, as well. Kap is great. He can still climb a coconut tree…he’s physically fit.”
Andrew Ormond, a junior from New Zealand majoring in information systems and information technology, said, “I like Kap because of his personality and for what he provides for the PCC. I’ve talked to him…he’s down to earth and he does his job really well. He’s come through the Maori village to watch the show. Sometimes we talk to him. He’s just a really good guy.”
Kap finalized his presentation by demonstrating Samoan fireknife dance. Kap said he has also been invited to speak as a Samoan Culture Expert at the University of Hawaii’s, Samoan Culture and Language Symposium held in August.
To watch Kap’s TEDx presentation, visit YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3a8fbjG3F_w