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Tuvalu Language Week: Bombardier Salaikeni Salaikeni

To celebrate Tuvalu Language Week, Bombardier (BDR) Salaikeni Salaikeni shares with us his experiences in service, his thought on his culture and more.

29 September, 2022

I joined the military because I felt like I could do more than just being indoors, and I also enjoy being outdoors with hands-on learning and being physical. I don’t know of many Tuvaluans being in the Army so I figured I'd try my luck of being one.

I am Nukufetau, Funafuti, Vaitupu and Kiribati and I’m proud to be all of these. I do tend to represent my Tamanuku side, but at the end of the day, Tuvalu encompasses the three sides that I’m from. I can’t forget my Kiribati side too. No matter where I’m from, I love my country and my roots are deeply embedded.

I grew up in South Auckland, Mangere after moving from West Auckland at a young age. It is my hometown and just like I am proud to be from Tuvalu, I am also proud to be from Mangere.

I joined the Army (Territorial Force) and enlisted as a Gunner in 16th Field Regiment in 2012. At the time, I was studying towards a Diploma in Marine Engineering at Maritime School but I decided to leave and pursue the Regular Force in 2013.

My current role is a Command Systems Sergeant within 163 Battery Reconnaissance Group. I am responsible for voice and data communications, computation of firing data, management of technical equipment, and surveying and managing the soldiers in the Command

I have been given the opportunity to travel overseas working with different partner militaries, including exercises in South Korea, Australia, and Hawaii.

I myself am a proud Tuvaluan. I have always looked up to my island and have never forgotten where I came from. I speak the language and always speak it to my kids so that they are fluent and comfortable about where their father comes from.

Tuvalu is a small island and it is a miss to the world on how beautiful it is, and how much knowledge, traditions and history it holds.

Our people in my opinion are the kindest, most energetic people you could be around. They're fun, happy, emotional, charismatic, and full of life and heart. The list goes on. It is no surprise as to why Tuvaluans are just cheerful people and are always welcoming.

Back in Tuvalu, doors are left wide open and you could walk past anyone’s house and be greeted to come inside to eat and relax. That is being a Tuvaluan! For that, I hold my hand on my heart and give thanks to God always for who I am and where I come from. Tuvalu - small nation, big heart!