The Lecture Circuit in Hawaii

Visiting with recent Xavier alums on the Big Island.

As a fellow of East-West Center, I was given the opportunity to give talks–and do so much more–for two weeks in Honolulu and on the Big Island in mid-March. It all began with five presentations to classes in Ethnic Studies and Pacific Island Studies at the University of Hawaii. Why the ethic bias against Micronesians in Hawaii these days? How were Japanese migrants to Micronesia treated before the war? Continue reading →

Working with the “Other”

Connecticut parishioner with the “other” on skis: Fr. Bruce Roby from Chuuk.

Milan is a small town of just 300 people in rural Minnesota, but nearly half of them are from Romanum in Chuuk.  At the end of March I expect to be visiting Milan, after a couple of weeks in Hawaii, to help create bridges between the Chuukese and their new neighbors from the Midwest. Not that the Chuukese don’t have friends there already. At the head of the list are Eric Thompson, a former PCV who spent two years in Chuuk, and Bob Ryan, a businessman who has become a father to the islanders. Continue reading →

Back to School at Fordham

At Fordham with Henry Schwalbenberg, the International Political Economy and Development Program Director, and  Gabe Rossi, a former Jesuit Volunteer at Xavier High School in Chuuk.

I enjoyed a rare treat today, an opportunity to talk to a group of 30 Fordham students about the islands. The students were graduate students in Henry Schwalbenberg’s IPED program. The acronym stands for International Political Economy and Development. The students are largely people who have stars in their eyes (in the best sense) and have hopes of changing the world. One of them is shown in the photo above–Gabe Rossi, a former Jesuit Volunteer who just finished two years at Xavier High School (he’s the one on the left). The program director, Henry Schwalbenberg, might be unrecognizable to those of you who knew him when he worked with MicSem in Chuuk 30 years ago doing political education at the time that the island nations were still pondering their political future. He’s put on a few pounds since then, as you can see from the photo (he’s the bearded man in the center). Continue reading →

Happy 75th Birthday to Fran Hezel, SJ

Fran relaxing with family in Florida, days before his 75th birthday.

As the youngest of Fran Hezel’s four brothers, I am taking the owed prerogative of commandeering Fran’s blogsite for this occasion.  Yes, he owes it to me, because all these years it’s he who has won all the attention.

Today, January 29, 2014, is Fran’s 75th birthday, and I want to capture for all of us and from all of us a sense of our deepest appreciation Continue reading →

The Band of Brothers Hits DC

Former US Ambassador to the FSM Peter Prahar and myself, with Department of the InteriorStaff Stephen Savage, and, from the Graduate School, Jason Aubuchon and Kevin O'Keefe.

The island team was in Washington the week of January 13th to do a presentation at the Department of Interior on the performance of the Micronesian economies over the past ten years (2003-2013). This marks the half-way point of the new Compact funding period, so it was a chance to find out how well the island nations are doing. Continue reading →

Catching Up with the Veterans

Dinner with the Maryknoll Sisters and Old Friends.(From Back, Left) Paul Sauer, Dr. Joe Flear, Sr. Dora Nuetzi, Sr. Carolyn White, Fran Hezel; (From Front, Left) Sr. Rose Lauren,  Sr. Marie May, Sr. Rose Corde McCormick, Sr. Rose Patrick, Sr. Joanne McMahon

Dr. Joe Flear’s visit to New York for a couple of days seemed to trigger a series of reunions. Joe (standing second from the left in the photo) worked in Yap for several years during the 1980s before he moved to Pohnpei to teach at the medical school there. Since 2000 he has been teaching and doing clinical instruction at the Fiji School of Medicine.The evening of his arrival, he joined a couple of us for dinner Continue reading →

Christmas 2013

Fran Hezel's 2013 Holidy Letter.  Merry Christmas to All!

It’s home for the holidays for me–again for the third time in four years. But where is home? Where I was born and raised? Or where I spent two-thirds of my life? Or is home anywhere I happen to be assigned as a Jesuit? Continue reading →

A Micronesian Monastery in Cow Country

A Chuukese Congregation at a parish in St. Joseph, Missouri.

If you’re looking for the presence of a Micronesian religious community in the US, you’ll have to go to the Midwest to find it. But if you visit during December, be prepared for temperatures hovering around zero. When I woke up this morning, the thermometer registered five degrees, but everyone says it’s even colder at night. This place makes New York City seem like Miami Beach. Continue reading →

I Lift My Lamp

The Statue of Liberty, site of a Recent Personal Pilgrimage

I was inspired by the pilgrimage I made here in New York last weekend. Not to a church or a holy site, but to a secular shrine. Not even to the World Trade Center, the scene of the terrorist attacks 12 years ago and a site visited by millions each year.

It was to the Statue of Liberty, that towering bronze woman, a gift of France in the late 19th century, the symbol of what this country stands for. “I lift my lamp” says the verse on the plaque at the base of the statue. But what lamp is that?  What does the torch that the robed woman holds aloft mean? Continue reading →

Adjusting to Life Abroad

The Brothers Hezel (and wives) at a Wedding in New Jersey, November 2013
Nate and Trisha, Newlyweds

Nate and Trisha, Newlyweds

A week ago I had the honor of doing the wedding ceremony of a cousin (Nate) and his wife (Trisha) in a small New Jersey town near Paramus. Nate met his wife, whose parents were born in India, at Fordham University several years ago. Since then they have had very different careers–Nate is a lawyer, while Trisha is a CPA with a fine job with a good Manhattan firm–but love conquers all! For those who have never seen me wearing more than zoris, shorts, and a polo shirt, let me offer proof that life in New York calls for adaptation even from such as me. You can also see the newlyweds, by the way. Continue reading →