I have been a part of the Ping Chong + Company community for 15 years. I am a Senior Teaching Artist and I am also a performer in “Secret Histories/Undesirable Elements” with Ping Chong + Company. Currently I am teaching PC+C’s “Secret Histories” curriculum at the Museum Magnet School in collaboration with Lincoln Center Education. I am working with 8th graders from diverse backgrounds and communities. Together, we’re creating a performance in which the students will share their stories of culture, immigration, family, and home, in an event June 10th at the Clark Studio Theater at Lincoln Center.  For all of them, this will be their first time sharing stories in performance with each other and with their school, families and communities. I am moved by who these young people are—their trust in me, in each other, and in themselves, taking risks outside of their comfort zones to share their stories. I have been with them for over 4 weeks now and already I have seen them grow in their confidence and sharing their truths. I witness their vulnerability and power in sharing what they have already gone through at a young age. Their stories vary, and they are seeing the connections of resiliency between each other:  families being exiled from their homelands; being homeless; family members being incarcerated; drug abuse; domestic violence; and learning whole new languages and cultures. I am inspired by who they have become. I see their strengths and courage every week. Also, we get to have so much fun together because each of them has their own humor and style, hence their own dance moves and jokes. Being a teaching artist for PC+C is not a job for me. It is me, living my purpose—and my purpose is using arts education to connect and empower diverse communities.

Moana MMS LE Manhattan 2015
Moana’s students and their classroom teacher in the “Secret Histories” project at Museum Magnet School, 2015.

Teaching, performing and working with Ping Chong + Company has inspired and empowered me to live my life-long dream as an artist and educator. I get to be someone who is committed to community, social justice, and making a difference in the world. This is a life that I love. PC+C has inspired me to be the founder and creator of Mahina Movement, a performance group of women that have performed on over 500 stages across the US and Ireland in the past 15 years. In our music and poetry, we tell our own stories and histories, which is exactly what I teach my students to do. Also, in the past 3 years, I have created and directed public murals to show and share stories of the community. I have worked on murals in LA, Utah, Australia and New Zealand. Currently I am working on a mural that will be on a 3-story building in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. This community mural will feature stories of grandmothers, mothers and their granddaughters from Palestine, China, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. This mural will honor and celebrate their stories.  This mural is sponsored by Ping Chong + Company, through a grant from the Asian Women Giving Circle.

I am very grateful to my Ping Chong + Company family. I would not be the artist and educator I am today without all the experiences, learning, and love that is given to me by the company. Thank you, PC+C!

Moana2015 Headshot
Moana Niumeitolu

 

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