Mili Saiki is never without energy, will never let you pass without saying ‘Hola!’ (hello) and always comes along or shows up at the right time, like any mentor, teacher, and friend. They say nobody can inspire people like teachers, but for Milli, who has worked as business manager of Saipan International School for 25 years, the feeling is mutual.
“At SIS, I do [many things], from taking care of the office business, to helping students, teachers and parents, coaching volleyball, organizing fundraisers—you name it, I can do anything. Why? Because when you’re working with children and young adults, you are inspired,” she said. “They are our motivation and before we realize it, we become very passionate in what we do. Class after class I have seen students graduate and become great professionals. What more motivation do I need?”
The year 2020 was a trying time for Saiki and many schools due to the pandemic but her good spirit and bubbly personality have kept her afloat. “Enjoy every moment and love what you do because there will be difficult days and difficult people, but when you try to see the best in every experience, you get the best results and to me that is a good measure of success. When you work with children, they are your priority and sometimes is hard to balance it but I always try,” she said.
Saiki also loves to cook and considers that her break but she also revels in eating out, watching the sunset, and being with friends, “knowing that each of us are important because there is nothing more rewarding knowing that you are an inspiration in somebody’s life and even better when you make a difference in theirs,” she said.
Saiki considers herself lucky to be living on Saipan. “That may sound cliché but I am very fortunate to live in this kind of community. Last year was difficult with the COVI-19 and the political situation we all saw in U.S. and the world. [Yet] we live in peace on Saipan, with so much respect regardless of where you come from. We embrace our cultural differences, learn from each other, and it is only on Saipan you will have the opportunity to feel like being in the United Nations, with friends from Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Czech Republic, and eating lumpia, coco, sushi, kimpab, and dumplings, all in one table,” she said.
Her goals for this year is “to work toward a better world” and that includes hugging her daughters, seeing her family, traveling to Peru, finishing this school year with face-to-face classes, having a face-to-face senior graduation, and more. “We recently formed the SIS Saipan Cares for Animals Club and we are happy and proud of that. …We live in paradise and when life is difficult, we must remember where we are and be thankful for that,” she added.