My name is Josephine Taofinuu, I’m a proud Samoan and represent Samoa where ever I travel in the world. I’m a cabin crew and flight attendant for Emirates Airline based in Dubai UAE – the largest international airline in the world.
Being a flight attendant is like purchasing one ticket to travel around the world.
I enjoyed my first horse riding experience in Zimbabwe while watching Zebras and Giraffes, climbed the Great Wall of China, looked up to Christ the Redeemer in Rio De Janeiro and discovered Paris, the city of Love during Euro cup this year. I have to say, this is the best job in the world! I’ve experienced new cultures while exploring new countries and learnt basic words in Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, Thai, Swahili. There’s never a dull moment – this job opened my eyes to so many different ways of life. It’s made me appreciate where I come from and grateful for what I have.
What are you passionate about?
Travelling and experiencing new countries, even though I still have a lot more to visit. While I’m in Dubai, I want to make the most of my time to explore this side of the world. I want to visit the famous Pyramids in Egypt, Petra Jordan, the Taj Mahal in India and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I’m also passionate about going after what I want, being empowered and positive. I believe hard work pays off, and everything happens for a reason.
I’ve recently discovered a new interest in nutrition. Being a flight attendant is not easy, especially when it comes to health and fitness. We fly to so many destinations with different time zones. At times, I’m eating lunch at 3am in the morning or forcing myself to sleep when its midday, because I have a flight at 10pm. All these things can take a toll on your body and mind if you don’t look after yourself. So I’ve been trying to learn and acquire knowledge about nutrition…of course, I’m Samoan, and I love food!
What has been the most challenging experience in your journey so far? And what were the most rewarding lessons?
The most challenging experience was getting to where I am right now. After finishing high school, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to study, which is why I didn’t go to university. I went to St Mary’s College in Samoa and completed year 11 and 12 at Warwick High School here in Australia. It was challenging – I was in a totally different environment and speaking English was hard for me.
I picked up a retail job during my final year of high school that I kept after high school while trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I enrolled into TAFE to study a Cert III in Tourism, thinking that I wanted to be a travel agent.
Then one day I was flicking though a newspaper and came across an advertisement about training to become part of a cabin crew. A year after in 2010, I enrolled to study another Cert II in Aviation (Flight Operation) at Aviation Australia in Brisbane. The real challenge came after studying – looking for work. The aviation industry isn’t an easy industry to find work in, it took me nearly a year to find work and the hardest part was traveling to interviews and facing experienced candidates in the industry. I went to maybe four interviews before I finally got my first flying job.
I’d like to thank my family and friends, especially my mum who always encourages me to keep trying.
I worked for Adagold, a charter company for the Australian Military, based in Darwin and flying military personnel to Dubai. I worked for Adagold for nearly three years until our contract with the military ended. I’m now working for Emirates. As I said, I believe everything happens for a reason. If you knock and the answer is no, do not feel disheartened – it means God has another plan for you. Believe you can do it, and you will. Always have faith and be confident in what you do, be humble (as my mum always says) and no matter what kind of job you do, small or big, always do it to the best of your ability. God will reward you.
With Emirates, the most challenging thing for me was moving far away from my family and friends. Dubai is really far from home. Not having family and friends near was hard but I was busy for the first two months of training so that made it easier for me.
The other major challenge from the start was working with so many different nationalities. When I started my training, there were15 of us in my batch or class from 11 countries that spoke 12 languages. Trying to understand different accents and understand different cultures, especially different kinds of humor. We all know Pacific Islanders like to mock and make fun of someone if they sound fresh. In my line of work everyone sounds different so it’s not something we laugh at, it’s something we embrace and I love it.
My flying career has been amazing, from making life long friends and meeting so many people from different countries has been a blessing. Learning how to say hello in so many languages and finding out new countries that I’ve never heard of before (for example, Kyrgyzstan) and learning how to explore a country even if you can’t speak the language, have been the most rewarding lessons. Traveling on my own has forced me to make my own decisions and learn and grow from all these experiences. I’d like to think that I’m a strong independent young woman because of it.
What advice do you have for young pacific people, especially for those who might be thinking if pursuing a similar pathway?
To my fellow young Pacific Islanders out there my advice is to just go for what you want! Be fearless and believe that you can do it and you’re already halfway there. Be confident!
Never in a million years did I think I’d end up living in Dubai while working for one of the best airlines in the world. From being a little girl who grew up in Samoa to who I am and where I am right now – traveling the world for work and discovering myself in the process, I’d say malo le tumafai (great job) to myself!
If you’re not sure of what you want to do right now career wise or study wise just find what you’re passionate about. Working or studying something that you’re passionate about will make things so much easier for you.
Make goals and write down what you want to achieve in a month, a year or two years whatever works for you. With my line of work for those who are thinking of pursuing cabin crew as a career, I would say – if you’re passionate about experiencing different cultures and love working with people (and of course travelling) then this will be for you. Do your research and frequently ask questions about how to start, and find out what requirements are required to pursue this career path. Work hard and be patient – nothing in life comes easy. Trust in what you do and believe in yourself!
We’d like to thank Josephine for sharing her story with us. To follow her journey around the world, you can find her on Instagram @j_taofinuu. If you’d like to ask her for advice on how to put your best foot forward when pursuing a career as a cabin crew team member, you can get in touch with Josephine at email@example.com.