49 Voices: Geneva Luteria of Anchorage

Geneva Luteria of Anchorage (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

This we we’re hearing from Geneva Luteria in Anchorage. Luteria is a student at Dimond High School whose parents moved to Alaska from the Phillipines. She was part of this year’s Points of Light Leadership Institute program.

LUTERIA: The best, fortunate thing that I forgive my parents for bringing me to Alaska for is that I see myself no matter what. I see it in my neighborhood. I see it in kids at school. I see it in teachers. No matter what, I’m surrounded by the Filipino community, no matter where I go. There’s so much love and respect here. And all the kids know each other and they bond, and that brings me great joy to know that.

Student government, I think, is one of my greatest growth experiences in my life. The way I have formed to be a person in student government is something that inspires me more than anything, and something I wish more people would have done.

I pursue my own personal projects in the form of resolutions, which are meant to enhance why thing should be better. Like last year, I forwarded a Filipino resolution to introduce Tagalog classes into the Anchorage School District, as I feel a lot of Filipino kids grow up in this place and they fail to learn the language their parents have taught them, due to encouragement from the school to learn English, due to so many societal pressures to not learn this language. And I feel like they were really missing out on that.

In elementary school, some parents were actually called to be told that they shouldn’t be showing their kids any shows or speaking to them because it might interfere with their language of English. And this was something I read in a report, this was something I know from my friends. I know this has happened and they were discouraged.

So I made this resolution to show these kids that you can learn the language, you can be proud of that. You can talk to your community, you can talk to your family in the language they grew up in. And I brought this resolution to several boards, such as the Filipino Board, the Anchorage School District, my own student government and delegates at the Alaska Association of Student Governments because I felt passionate about it.

This is my third year. I have to admit, first year I did absolutely nothing. Second year, I got that dose of inspiration from going back home to the Philippines and seeing the culture there. And third year I’m like high stakes, rolling into it, you know.

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Wesley Early covers municipal politics and Anchorage life for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org.