PISA Oregon started in 2007; formed out of Portland State University when student leaders looked to improve relationships and representation between Pacific Islander Student Groups. In short time PSU connected with Oregon State’s Polynesian Cultural Club and representatives from the University of Portland. For its first year PISA made great strides and created a lot of momentum.
In 2008, the founder of PISA left to Hawaii and PISA went on a brief break. However in early 2009, Makerusa Porotesano decided to postpone his masters to fulfill the dreams of PISA. Then in 2009-2010 PISA has extended its membership to Eastern Oregon, University of Oregon, Portland Community College, Mt. Hood Community College, Portland State, Oregon State and University of Portland.
On January 15th and 16th of 2010, PISA held their first Conference at Portland Community College (Sylvania Campus). It was a successful event, where students from all over the state were able to gather and meet. The Conference covered topics such as health, culture, and music. Soteria Moli was the President of PISA in 2010
On February 25th and 26th of 2011, PISA celebrated our second annual Conference at the University of Portland. We celebrated with music, at food from familiar and new cultures and made friends from all over the Northwest. The Conference held workshops that covered stereotypes, cultural conflict, significance of tattoos, economy, and more. We were also fortunate enough to show two documentaries, “Unnatural Causes” and “Living Pono”. Fipe Havea was the President of PISA in 2011.
PISA 2015- 2017
After a brief break, PISA returned to host two forums with the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon in 2015 & 2016. After another break and a restructure of leadership and mission, PISA is now ready to host its first event in two years (PISA Conference 2018).
In an internal evaluation of our student leaders and campus climates, PISA is now transitioning from a student led organization (for 3-4 years) to a student centered leadership program. We are looking to recruit our first cohort this March 2018. After the PISA conference in February of 2018, we will announce applications for the first our first leadership cohort.
The future of PISA is bright and growing. We are now fiscally sponsored by the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon and the Samoan Pacific Development Corporation. As we continue to grow we hope you’ll help us develop new and exciting ways to provide critical knowledge, dynamic leadership and relationship building for our Student of Oceania.
Future goals include:
- Create Stipend positions for student leaders to contribute to our conference and advocacy campaigns.
- Supporting the development of a secondary education branch and conference
- Creating a MOU with Colleges/Universities to support and recognize PISA’s work with their Pacific Islander communities.
- Recruit more schools to participate.
In 2018, PISACON18 took place at Portland State University which marked the first time that PISA held a student focused conference in over 7 years. PISA had held community forums and collective gatherings, but this was the first time it had returned to the conference format. Since then, PISACON has taken place at the University of Washington, Oregon State University and virtually during COVID protocols. Each year we have had successful gatherings of students, staff and community members to bring this one of a kind gathering together.
Our commitment has changed from year to year, but the foundation of servicing students has not. For 2022, we are looking to bring back the conference to a physical campus. We’re not sure where that will take place, but we are positive that having virtual and physical space will be something we look forward to in the future.