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Ko hoku hingoa

Updated: Jun 15, 2022

Ko hoku hingoa = My name is.

My name is 'Alamoni. It is a Tongan name from my paternal side. My Tongan name does not match my Asian face, so it gets people confused sometimes, and they probably think, "Wait, is the label wrong? Shouldn't she have an Asian sounding name to match her Asian looking face?"

I was born and raised in Tonga but went to New Zealand for university. I remember when I graduated uni went back to start working in Tonga. We had to do alot of presentations to different people and organisations, and I personally hate public speaking. When it was my turn to present to a new crowd, people would almost fall off their seats when they heard me speak in Tongan because they tend to assume I was a foreign volunteer worker or consultant or intern.

I would do the whole presentation in Tongan, but people would either ask me the questions in (sometimes broken) English at the end, or just ask my senior in Tongan instead. Absolutely nothing wrong with broken English if they were trying to communicate to a foreigner who didn't speak the local language, but didn't I just speak in your mother tongue?

It made me feel that no matter your fluency if you don't look like the way you sound, you're low key still gonna be considered as an outsider.

Anyway, this short poem is about that experience.

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