1-Minute Interview with Jimmy Mapu
It’s time to introduce one of our favorite people! Jimmy Mapu is the Senior Manager of the Guest Services Department, made up of about 200 employees from all around the world, that speak over two dozen languages. He has worked at the Polynesian Cultural Center since he first qualified for a part-time work permit in High School, with two short breaks — once to serve a mission in Tokyo, Japan and a second time to attend graduate school. We have all been blessed that he has worked here for 21 years.
Jimmy was born and raised right here in the village of La’ie by his police officer father, Simi Mapu, and his high-school teacher turned college professor mother, Maryann Pili Mapu. They met, courted, and were married right here at the Center, so he is a product of this special place in more ways than one. His dad worked as a Security Guard and his mom worked in the Samoan village and danced in the night show. They fell in love, and the rest was history. There are five children that came from their union, and all of them have worked at the PCC at some time or another.
Okay Jimmy, first question! How are you filling your days?
We’re working on a couple of big projects and a number of smaller ones. Under the direction of Ron Fiaui, our Assistant Manager who oversees the Ambassador Tours, we have several students working on revising our Guide Certification program. Others are creating video tutorials of items we’re responsible to learn about for each culture. Rob Tu’ufuli, our Canoe Tours Supervisor, led his team of Canoe Guides in repainting all of the PCC’s canoes so that they look brand new when we reopen our doors. We’re also making plans to revamp the experience guests have on the canoe tours. This is really exciting, as those tours have basically been the same since they were first launched. Lance Aina, who supervises our Asian Language Tours as well as the Temple Visitors Center Tours, is being assisted by his right-hand man, William Wallace, to keep the trams and vehicles at motor pool washed and tuned up. They’re working on ways we can serve our visitors from Asian countries when we reopen and have a limited number of guides from those countries, since most of them felt they needed to return home in the midst of the pandemic. Sarah Niumatalolo, our Support Services Supervisor, is holding everything down for us — doing everything she normally does to help keep the rest of us going, even during the closure. From processing important paperwork, time cards, filing important reports, etc., she’s as busy as ever.
What do you do to keep your spirits up?
Our team meets online every morning for our normal daily devotional, despite the fact that we are closed and more than half of them are not here. We use zoom, sing together, pray together, and share together. I love to see their smiling faces and hear how they are coping with all the stresses of the pandemic. They are, hands-down, my favorite thing about working here. Seeing who they are when they first come, compared with who they have become by the time they graduate and leave us, is such a wonderful blessing.
Can you tell us about another time in your life where you may have utilized your Polynesian cultural and practices to guide you through challenges?
There’s a well-known proverb in Samoan that says, Na o le gata e fasia, ‘ae pupula (Only the snake looks at the thing slaying it.) Samoans say that the snake is the only animal which when about to be attacked, will neither defend itself or try to escape. It simply gives its enemy a defiant look. The proverb teaches us to accept what challenges come our way with humility. It teaches us to bear patiently the trials we face. Lotomaualalo is the principle of humility even in the face of difficult times. We can do great things when we humble ourselves and turn to the Lord for strength and blessings, as we are all doing by following the prophet’s invitation to join in the worldwide fast to end the pandemic.
What are you looking most forward to doing once the Polynesian Cultural Center reopens?
Besides being excited to be with my team again, I’m excited to serve our guests again! They give us a whole day (and sometimes more!) of their precious and limited time on the island, and it’s always so exciting to see if we can be worthy of the trust they place in us to make that day worth it for them. From the moment they arrive, to their experience in the islands, to dinner, to the night show, and all the things going on in the background that they will never see or know about that make their day possible — I’m grateful to be on the frontline where I get to see with my own two eyes the glint of their smiles as they experience all of this.
I can’t wait til we can open up our doors again!