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? Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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? Read More
That’s the question that I found myself trying to answer last week in Hawaii. The “strange people” were, of course, Micronesians who have moved to Hawaii over the past years. They include 8,000 FSM citizens, another 3,000 or 4,000 Marshallese and hundreds of Palauans.
The East-West Center generously paid my way to Hawaii and set up a number of interviews, talks and radio and TV appearances during the week. Most of the events highlighted two recent publications of mine: Making Sense of Micronesia, the book published by University of Hawaii Press, and Micronesians on the Move: Eastward and Upward Bound, a monograph that EWC is releasing in a week or two. The first is on my struggle to understand island custom, and the other is on the migration of FSM people over the years. Read More
Last year at this time, a group of us had just begun our survey of the “missing Micronesians,” as one of the MicSem videos put it: those people from FSM who had left their islands to find a home abroad. On this blog, some months ago, I posted a few paragraphs on the results of the survey. The full report of the survey is available through the FSM National Government, and within a few months the East-West Center should be publishing a monograph on the subject. Read More
Over the past several months, some of us have been working on a survey of Micronesian migrants to the US and its territories. The point of the exercise was to put numbers to what we all know has been an explosion of emigration from the islands. Since there has been no increase in jobs in the islands, people are bringing their families abroad to find employment there. Read More
Next week I leave for Buffalo for a weekend with the family, centered around the wedding of a niece. After that, thankfully, it’s back to the islands to set up camp on Guam. Just today I received an email confirming that I will be living at the cathedral rectory in downtown Hagatna (as it is now called). I’ll be doing pastoral work on weekends, teaching a course at the seminary, and trying to take advantage of whatever opportunities come along to do useful things. A few projects have already been proposed by some–for instance, a short book to commemorate the Diocese of the Carolines. I’m sure there will be others. The truth is that I haven’t found myself idling for too long at any stage of my life. Read More