My whole life changed once I turned 12 years old. I learned I was adopted by my aunt, and later I was reunited with my real parents and siblings. Together we moved to America.
I was living in a big house with a cat, and life was slow. Living with my aunt was very fun but there are lots of rules in Tonga. In school, all the girls were forced to only wear skirts during school, but I hate wearing skirts so I did not. Once I arrived to school I would change my skirt but I would get in trouble and get beat by the teacher so I just followed that “stupid rule.” I would find myself in trouble more often than not.
School was not the only thing I hated. In Tonga there was nothing to do, so I had to make my own fun. I would go out and try to find dry sticks so I could light the end of the stick on fire and use that to write in the concrete. Not only that but I would find empty glass bottles and just break them with rocks. It was an aiming game my friends and I created and of course, they’d say “I was the best at it.”
Although Tonga was very boring, the beaches were not. Going to the beaches and feeling the warm water and even warmer sun was so beautiful. Hearing all the waves crashing, smelling the ocean breeze, and not seeing any type of trash on the beach would make anyone feeling good. The beach is where I would spend most of my time relaxing or swimming in the clear blue water. I would even find small creatures, or collect seashells like they do in the movies.
Living with my aunt was so fun and easy. My aunt was more like my best friend as opposed to an adult figure in my life. She would allow me to do so many things. I wouldn’t have to go to school if I did not want to. I would get anything I wanted by just simply asking. In Tonga, not going to school is not a big thing like it is here in America. There was this one time where I did not go to school and I stayed home with my cat named Blue. I was relaxing in the living room, living my best life, and then I saw the front door open all by itself. I was too scared to check it out or even to close the door, so I ran to my room and stayed there till my aunt came. My aunt was mad that I kept the door open, but I was sad because my cat went through the door and never came back.
Living in Tonga was very easy but a little too easy, which is why my parents wanted to move. Tonga’s education is not the best, because most teachers are not qualified. Also, Tonga is not as industrialized as other countries, so we did not have any new technology. This made my parents want to search for better education for their kids.
Leaving was not hard; we just got on an airplane and went to America. Getting a green card was not hard at all, because we had family relations.
Now, getting started in America was pretty hard. Most of my family including myself had a very hard time adjusting to the language and the way of life there. Not only that, but making money was harder because we could not get any good jobs. Thus, all my sisters’ had to get a job while still in school, which affected their grades a lot.
When I was 17 years old, I lied to my parents about having a job. Instead of going to a ‘job’ I would go out with friends and do bad things. I went out with them to the mall one time. I didn’t have any money for anything in the store, so I stole. Nearly out the mall, I saw mall security following my friends and I. As I tried to speed up to the car they also sped up. They stopped us, not for stealing, but because we left a bag at a bench we were sitting at. Since then I never stole… from that mall.
Since I dropped out of high school, I needed to start thinking of my future. This made me want to stop getting in trouble and start taking my life more seriously. I was an 18 year old girl in search for a good paying job. I got little jobs here and there, but then my cousin put me onto this one job where I had to take care of old people. It was not hard at all and it was paying well. Since then, all I do now is do caring take of old people.
After about a year of being a caregiver, I was married to my first husband and had my first daughter Vanessa. I was only 20 years old. As time went on, I divorced my husband and tried to find a better life for my daughter and I. 3 years later, that’s when I found the love of my life, Kasi Langi. We met at a party and married after a year of being together and we had a daughter together, Rosie. That’s when my life in America began to be great.
It was a real struggle living here but it was all worth it, because I’m living very happy with my kids and husband.
Now I have accomplished living on my own and getting a good paying job. My next step is to buy a house for my kids and I. I want my kids to know where they came from and how life is not going to be easy. My hope is for my kids to do even better than me and get a better education than I ever got.
The story of Ofa Langi was written and recorded by her daughter, Telesia Langi.