Parting Words with Teka Gabaldon
The community at Surfing The Nations is all too familiar with difficult goodbyes, just as it is with exciting hello’s and reunions. One of the most difficult goodbye’s this year is our farewell to our dear friend Teka Gabaldon from Carpinteria, California. Teka has been serving Surfing The Nations since her internship in Fall of 2014, holding many crucial roles since the start.
Her biggest contributions to STN include establishing all of the administrative structure for STN’s Sweden base, writing many grant proposals that helped to fund our Ulu Pono youth program, and establishing critical habits and processes around staff care at STN. Beyond that, she has loved the community at and surrounding STN in amazing ways. She is well known in our community for being a great listener and a loyal friend, through and through.
The other day, we asked Teka to reflect on her time here with a few questions – here’s what she had to say:
What will you remember STN for?
-I’ll always remember STN as the big scary decision I made that changed my life forever. I was 21 when I came to STN, and had never left my home for more than a month in my entire life before that. Even the college I went to was only 7 minutes away from where I grew up. My friend actually made me sign a contract before internship started, saying that I’d stay the entire length of internship and not leave halfway through.
-I’ll also remember STN for all the job positions that I held which I was completely under-qualified for, but ended up making myself qualified for.
Oh, and probably the most adventurous time of my life up until now!
What were the most important things you did while you were here?
-It has to be becoming a committed person. There was a huge range of really challenging things that I persisted through. I came here thinking I’d be here for 3 months, and I ended up staying for 5 years. So commitment is huge, but really for me personally, the biggest thing is that I can now describe myself as brave. I did pretty much everything I was afraid of and I didn’t give up. I cried a lot (laughs), but I didn’t give up.
What are your hopes for the future of STN?
-I hope that STN continues to become a place that loves the community around them really well. It’s really cool to know your neighborhood. Up until I was 9, I didn’t have any neighbors, and then until I was 21 I never knew any of my neighbors. It’s been really cool to be here and to really know my neighbors. I love walking down the street to one of our Ulu Pono kids house, or seeing someone I know in Walgreens, or just on the walk to the store. I really just feel like this place is my home
-Oh and one other thing! I really hope that more staff at STN decide to commit long term here. It takes a long time to get to know the people around here and to really feel like you are a part of what’s going on in Wahiawa. I hope people get to experience what it’s like to be here for a long time.
Why did you stick around STN for so long?
-I guess I just never felt finished. Even when it seemed like leaving was going to be the best option, I was too stubborn to leave when things got hard. I wanted to prove to myself that I could make it through the biggest challenges, I just didn’t want to end on that note.
-I also did a good job of making Hawaii my home rather than just STN. I had such a good network of friends and community around the island. Every time I thought I was going to leave, there was always someone who pushed me to press into the difficult things rather than giving up.
Teka is truly gifted in administrative skills, as well as her ability to nurture and encourage people. Moving forward, she hopes to use these skills to unleash the full potential of every person, and community that she commits herself too. Look for her in California, Hawaii, or Bangladesh in the next few years. We know she’ll be absolutely killing it wherever she goes. We can’t wait to see where life takes her!
We’ll miss you dearly Teka. Thank you for all of the sacrifice, effort, and commitment you’ve given here. Your legacy will carry on here for a long time to come!
- S Prev