Obama’s sister glad to be back in Hawaii after long visit to D.C.
By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer
Maya Soetoro-Ng has been on a hectic schedule since she and her family returned in January from an extended visit in Washington, D.C., following her brother Barack Obama's election.
Soetoro-Ng has left her position as a teacher at La Pietra Hawaii School For Girls, and is now an educational specialist at the East-West Center. Her husband, Konrad Ng, has returned as an assistant professor at the University of Hawai'i's Academy for Creative Media.
On Tuesday, Soetoro-Ng appeared at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel for a gubernatorial campaign event for former Congressman Neil Abercrombie, a family friend since Obama's childhood days growing up in his grandparents' apartment on Beretania Street.
On Thursday, after appearing at an Earth Day event at Maunalua Bay, Soetoro-Ng obliged supporters who pleaded for photos with her.
Soetoro-Ng, in e-mail exchanges with The Advertiser, shared a snapshot of life in Washington, D.C., and her future back home:
In Washington, "Konrad was a visiting scholar for the Smithsonian's AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) program and I combined days of writing a book on peace education with travel to do educational advocacy and peace days with kids, parents, and educators.
"Our daughters enjoyed the fall colors and winter precipitation, but the big snow storm in December helped me to feel good about coming home to Hawai'i.
"When we left Hawai'i, we only had two suitcases each and certainly never planned on staying forever. ... The plan was always to spend a few months in D.C. as a sweet sojourn and then to come home and spend future summers in D.C. with my brother and the rest of the family. The moment we stepped off the plane here and were submerged in the fragrance of this island, we let out simple sighs of gratitude for the bounty of Hawai'i."
POLITICS RULED OUT
Soetoro-Ng said that while she misses the students at La Pietra, "I'm very excited by the educational exchange that I will help to facilitate through the East-West Center. I've always been attracted by the East-West Center's work to bring together voices, visions, and educational curriculum from the farthest edges of the United States and Asia."
Asked if she is considering a political career, Soetoro-Ng said, "I will definitely never run for local office. I promise you will NEVER see me become a political candidate. That is 100 percent certain. I prefer to make my impact in other ways. Since returning to Hawai'i, I've enjoyed working with schools, educational programs, and non-profits that are dedicated to offering powerful cultural enrichment and practical support to young people (through after-school programs and creative school-community collaborations for instance).
" ... I am incredibly proud of my brother, of how hard he has been working to keep his promises and to nourish the best in the nation. He has already done so much and has had to surmount serious obstacles to get things done. I think he's doing a terrific job as president."