The beauty of different cultures is that they each carry with them their own time honoured traditions. There can also be challenges to overcome though if our cultures have certain customs to observe – but as we have so often been taught – in challenge lies opportunity. This is something that eCampus NZ student Onna Tangifolau has held close to her heart on her education journey.
Originally from Tonga, Onna says that while her own family has always promoted and celebrated the virtues of education, there is less of an emphasis on female’s pursuing academia in her wider Tonga culture.
“When we grew up, we had a big blackboard on our wall, and our parents instructed us to write all of our knowledge and ideas on here to share them with the family. My love of learning started here. In our culture, they can’t let go of the girls, and so after I finished secondary school, I didn’t have a chance to go and do more study.”
Through Onna’s own perseverance, she was able to work and complete more study at a branch of the University of the South Pacific. This is where I started to study basic English. My husband and I made a pledge when we were married, that when our children started school, we would move to the village on the Main Island because we wanted them to be able to finish their study.”
An opportunity for her husband to move out to New Zealand to play rugby saw Onna and her children relocate too, but their challenges with bureaucracy almost saw her having to leave. “It took a long time before I could get into study but I didn’t want to give up. We are Bahai and education is one of the main principles of our faith, as is educating our children. I wanted to show my children, that through education, I could help to finance our family.”
In 2016, Onna was thrilled to take her place at Ara Institute of Canterbury where she began her tertiary education journey. “This is where my foundation of study was established. For me, after being away from study for so long, it was like starting from the very beginning. I was so excited. After this experience, the opportunity to study with eCampus NZ was so exciting.”
As a busy mum, with commitments outside of the home, including running classes for children and working with youth, Onna needed the flexibility afforded by online learning. “What I find so amazing is that I can be flexible with my schedule every day and I’ve become very disciplined. I love that my children can see me study and I’m able to supervise them while I’m at home studying.
“My advice to others considering eCampus NZ would be ‘just go for it’. It’s so useful, and you can study from anywhere you like – I study when we go back to Tonga!”
Be sure to check out our full range of Student Success Stories and if you would like to learn more about the qualification that Onna achieved, take a look at the New Zealand Certificate in Business (Administration and Technology) (Level 4)