How was your week? Hope you had a good one in or out of Micronesia.
Our own voices
I recently read an interesting article from the Lowy institute in Australia. It was titled Time we heard the Pacific’s take on the Pacific.
This is such a timely piece considering the advent of social media, the internet, and the accessibility of all to have their own platform for their own causes. Now more than ever, even in Micronesia, this is possible. But, let me share some excerpts that I thought were very interesting:
Here’s the rub: should we really be lamenting the passing of the old-fashioned foreign correspondent, particularly in our own region? Or is this a chance to embrace the opportunity to hear from the people of the Pacific in their own voices with analysis from their perspectives and news priorities that reflect Pacific agendas?
We have been dominated for so long by western journalism and news. Our own online political forums are filled primarily with US politics and news. Go over to Micronesia Forum and count how many topics are related to things outside of Micronesia. Also, note that almost everyone is using a pseudonym. No real names. Just a lot of ranting behind made up names.
What really touched me (not literally) was the closing:
There is today a prolific cohort of indigenous journos, bloggers, and social commentators already daily reporting, dissecting, and disseminating their nations and region’s affairs with the insight only an indigenous member of an indigenous society can have. Australian newsrooms, instead of panting and pontificating about the growing influence of China, might be better served tapping into these conversations.
If we joined them, we might even learn a thing or two about the nations and the region within which we live.
This is important. In Micronesia, we have pretty good internet services. We don’t yet have 50 percent of the population online, but it’s coming soon. We can and should dissect and disseminate our affairs using our own Micronesian insights using the technical tools of bloggers, podcasters and youtubers. It’s all there. All free.
Another thing to touch upon. As a Pacific Islander, I want to be a partner, a colleague in joint endeavors. Not some social cause to make someone feel better or to tick that box off to say you have considered local or indigenous views. So, that joining should come with an understanding that we are the local experts, our views are important, and most importantly we live with the outcomes.
Over in Guam, former Governor of Chuuk, Ansito Walter had a few things to say about Chuukese Values:
The true spirit of the Chuukese people is anchored in the core values of “ekichu” (unity of thoughts), “tipechu” (unity of hearts), “angechu” (unity of deeds) and “non pungiro fonu” (humility and integrity), according to Ansito Walter, associate professor of public administration at the University of Guam and former governor of Chuuk.
That statement by itself means a couple of things. But, when you consider all the negative publicity that Chuukese have received in Guam, especially in the past year from the media, that statement has more weight. Mr. Walter goes on to say this:
“We came to Guam for a reason because we were searching for ‘engieng,’ a comfortable wind of change,” Walter said. He thanked the government for providing migrants the opportunity to live on Guam as they search for a better life.
Walter acknowledged the challenges the Chuukese face when adapting to a new living and work environment, coming from a small island and a traditional society.
“The Chuukese think in the ‘we’ sense,” Walter said. In Chuuk, he added, many families live in the same household, and sharing is a way of life.
A job well done for Mr. Walter to speak up for his Chuukese people. Although, I’m wondering, where was this talk earlier this year when everyone was coming down hard on Chuukese, especially Chuukese males? Forget about it. The voice has spoken and IT IS GOOD.
Let’s not forget the Chuukese women
A Chuukese PhD student studying at the Australian National University wants to change the way Chuukese women are seen today. Ms Myjolene Kim says that Chuukese women were not silent, submissive and hapless. Another voice speaking out and IT IS GOOD.
She says the accepted version of Chuuk history has been written through the lens of post-colonial male Christian privilege. Ms Kim says it depicts Chuukese women as silent, submissive and hapless. However, she says Chuuk was a matriarchal society where matrilineal ties connected people to their land and to their history.
I don’t know about that male christian privilege, but I do know that Chuukese women are not silent, submissive and hapless. That has never been my story.
In the meantime, here is a young Micronesian woman who uses her voice to ask, share and add value 🙂