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Going back to her roots: Aurelia Huffer

Geraldine Panapasa
Monday, August 18, 2008

FINDING out about her Fijian heritage is one of the reasons Aurelia Ledua Ritova-Huffer is in Fiji.

Aurelia, 23, was born and bred in Suva but has been living with her family in Germany.

She is of German and Fijian decent.

Her mother Sulueti Ritova is from Lakeba in Lau while her father is German.

Returning to her maternal roots after 14 years, Aurelia is in the country with her mother and younger sister.

Her father Dr Henning Huffer is a lawyer by profession and wrote a book in German about the mutiny on the Bounty.

He worked on producing a film about the mutiny and it was during his research and documentation of the event in Fiji that he met and married Sulueti.

Her mother had a role in the film and is now sales manager at an oriental store in Stuttgart, Germany.

Commonly called by her second name in Fiji, Aurelia is second in a family of four girls.

Although she wanted to be a lot of things when she was younger, Aurelia set her sights on being a journalist.

"I grew up in Lami and since we went to Germany in 1990, I have been travelling back and forth.

"I am here on holiday with my mum and younger sister and I hope to find out more about my Fijian heritage, especially the language and culture," she said.

"I can speak a little Fijian but I understand more than I speak.

"I attended the Holy Trinity kindergarten and then went to International School in Suva.

"We moved to Germany where I attended an European school at Karlsruhe.

"It is a school for children whose parents work for the European Union.

"It is something similar to International except those from outside had to pay a little more than the locals."

Aurelia completed her secondary education in 2003 and worked as a trainee producer for German music television conducting interviews and learning to produce music programs.

"In high school, I was the only one in my class with Fijian heritage.

"My best friend happened to be half Samoan so we were the only Pacific Islanders.

"At university, I am the only part-Fijian and it is something I am proud of.

"Suva has changed a lot from the last time I was here.

"It is more advanced than before and there are shopping malls."

Aurelia said the challenges of working in the media industry taught her a lot in terms of being efficient, productive and most importantly a confident, independent individual.

With determination tucked up her sleeves, Aurelia continued her tertiary education at the University of Heidelberg, one of Germany's prestigious and oldest universities.

"I am completing my degree in llanguage and linguistics, majoring in English.

"Higher education in Germany is not expensive.

"I also work for a professor in the linguistic department at school.

"I help her with research on different dialects and language.

"So while I am here, I want to learn as much as I can about the way Fiji-English is spoken and taught.

"One thing I notice is the difference in cultures, German and Fijian.

"Here, everything is more relaxed.

"In Germany, the life is fast-paced and modern."

She said families in Fiji were very close-knit with the inclusion of extended families.

Unlike Fiji, most families in Germany were nuclear families and only on certain occasions such as weddings or funerals did the family members get together and meet.

Despite this, Aurelia believes she has the best of both cultures and is proud to be exposed to the different backgrounds.

Her desire to discover this side of her life is an inspiration for many part-Fijians.

Aurelia might be 23 years old and still in school but she has this indescribable desire to bring out the best of her cultural heritage both German and Fijian.

"My advice for young people is to stay in school and if you have fun be sure to get your priorities right.

"Balance fun and school, think of the future and work hard to achieve your aim in life."

Aurelia will leave the country at the end of the month but has her eyes set on returning to Fiji after she graduates from university next year.

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