May 30, 2011

Immigrant Emirami Glad for Opportunities

Today I want to write about one of my kids good friends, Emirami Pepe.  He’s from Fiji, which explains his unusual name.  It’s pronounced ‘Em-er-ah-mee Peppy.’  Last week our local newspaper published an article about Emirami.  I learned more about him and wanted to pass on his remarkable story. 

Emirami was born in Fiji.  That’s an island East of Australia and North of New Zealand.  He spent his days farming to help the family have enough to eat.  When he was 9 years old, his mother married an American man and his life changed forever.  His step-father brought his family to Georgia, and Emirami started attending school.  He said, “Each day I’m grateful for this opportunity that my other family members [still in Fiji] are not getting.”
He was excited to attend school in America, and became a good student, an athlete and a concert level violinist.  He also joined several clubs, becoming President of the National Honor Society at his High School.

He earned good grades in school, graduating last week with a 3.91 GPA.  Eight of his classes were College level (Advanced Placement) classes, which are much harder than normal high school classes.  He had all A’s except one B throughout his High School career. 
His Mom liked to watch tennis, and especially liked to watch Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal.  Emirami spent hours copying his tennis style, trying hard to learn how to do his famous ‘spin’ although Nadal is left handed.  He’d practice for hours inside his garage with an old beat up racquet.  He made the Varsity tennis team his first year of High school and played Varsity all four years of High School.  

His step-father told him he didn’t think he could play the violin, and that became a challenge for Emirami.  He practiced for hours until he mastered it.  He was the first 9th grader to be in the Chamber Orchestra, the school’s highest orchestra group.  He was also the youngest violinist to be the ‘Concert Master,’ or violinist that leads the whole orchestra.  
And he did all of this simultaneously!  Sometimes he’d stay up until 2 am working on a project after a late tennis match.  The teachers at the High School often asked him when he was going home, since he usually stayed late.  He often stayed late to tutor students, attend various meetings and practice tennis.

He will attend the University of Georgia this fall, so he can eventually become a Cardiac Surgeon.  He wants to go back to Fiji and help the people there.  He’d like to join the ‘Doctors Without Borders’ group and provide medical care to Fiji and other underdeveloped nations.  I’m sure he received many scholarships toward this endeavor.

I wanted to tell his story to show that he made the best of a good situation.  Emirami said that if he hadn’t come to America, he would have become a poor farmer like most of his relatives have done.  Now he’s going to become a Doctor who can do a lot of good.  Not only did he take advantage of his educational opportunities in America, he also took advantage of his athletic and musical opportunities here.  Sometimes we take our opportunities for granted, not realizing how fortunate we are to have such opportunities.  When we take advantage of them and work hard, we can do amazing things. 

If you want to read the article on him, see:
Brigman, Brandon. "Busy Star: South's Pepe Juggles Hectic Schedule." Gwinnett Daily Post 25 May 2011: 1B and 6B.

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