Congressman Faleomavaega Eni announces the addition of international award-winning Samoan writer Sia Figiel to his local office this week. Sia is the first contemporary Samoan woman writer and Pacific islander to win the prestigious British-based Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for the Best First Book Award for the South-East Asia/South Pacific region.
“Aside from this great accomplishment, she is also a teacher who taught English at Fa’asao-Marist College Preparatory High School, Samoana High School and was the Language Arts and Literature Specialist for the Pacific Islands Center for Educational Development (PICED),” Faleomavaega said.
“I am very happy and thankful that Sia accepted my offer to be a member of my staff because I truly believe that to have people of her caliber is a great plus. So, aside from her writing skills, I will utilize her teacher-skills in dealing with students at the college and high school levels, and our young people in general,” the Congressman explained.
“Sia recently declined a Senior Lecturer position at the Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture at the University of the South Pacific, Suva Fiji, a post that would have added to her regional fame as an established lecturer/novelist/poetess/writer,” Faleomavaega continued.
“She has lectured at universities in New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, Samoa, Spain, France, Italy, England, Germany, Colombia/South America and the US including UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, Penn State, NYU, New York State University at Stoney Brooks, Long Beach State University and was the Distinguished Visiting Writer and Assistant Professor at the English Department of the University of Hawaii at Manoa as well as the Arthur Lynn Andrews Visiting Professor of Asia and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii at Hilo,” the Congressman recounted.
“In addition to all that, she is critically acclaimed internationally for her subsequent works of fiction, two other novels, a collection of prose-poetry and a CD or collaborative poetry with the Afro-American/Banaban poet Dr. Teresia Teaiwa,” Faleomavaega said.
“She has toured extensively with the eminent Samoan writer Professor Albert Wendt in Europe, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and is often the keynote speaker at international literary festivals and forums. Sia, who through her Samoan heritage, became a highly talented oral story teller, is also noted as being the first and only Pacific islander to read at the Shakespeare Globe Theatre, London,” Faleomavaega reiterated.
“Her work is translated into Spanish, French, Catalan, German, Danish, Swedish, Portuguese, Turkish and her books are used internationally on university curriculum for Women Studies, Cultural Anthropology, Sociology, Pacific Studies, Samoan and Pacific Literature as well as World Literature,” the Congressman noted.
“Aside from all that, her humane side enabled her to dedicated much of her time and efforts throughout the years to community projects, which included volunteering at an Old Folks Home in Spokane, Washington as a college student; volunteer teaching for a year at Logoipulotu College at Safotulafai Savaii, sporadic visits to half-way houses and the Correctional Facility for Women in Honolulu and a Maximum Security Prison in Colombia, South America,” Faleomavaega said.
“Sia was born at Matautu-Tai, Samoa to Vaigalepa Moana Toomalatai and retired Coast Guard Senior Bostwain’s Mate, WWII, Korea and Vietnam veteran Stanislaus. S. Figel of Baltimore, Maryland. She was raised in Vaivase, Samoa, but spent most of her adult years in Europe, and New Zealand,” Faleomavaega concluded.