COM-FSM Micronesian Studies program students engage in archeological learning

By Delihna M. Ehmes

arc1“What is archeology?”, a typical question I often get from my students.  In the last weeks of February and early March, the Micronesian studies students at the College of Micronesia-FSM, have been fortunate to be a part of an archeological excavation and lecture series. The archeological opportunity to learn and explore is owed to Dr. Takuya Nagaoka (NGO Pasifka Renaissance), for extending the invitation to the college. When asked what they thought about the Lenger excavation, these were some of the responses:

                “First thing is how dedicated and passionate they are. It made me realize that their work is not easy because it requires a lot of dedication and passion to carry out such projects. I say so because some of them are very young and some of them are very old, but they still go on. This is what inspires me the most. Second thing I found interesting is how they do their work, and that includes the digging, cleaning, sifting, classifying, and all that. It gave me much thought that it’s the career for me, but I won’t make a promise. It made me realize that its actually more fun to go out in the field than sitting behind a desk. And lastly, I’m interested in why they do their work. I mean, I myself, want to pursue a deeper knowledge of our history. And what they are doing is the exact answer to my desire.”; “1) It is very interesting to see such great work being done by our people and even people that came all the way from the other states. 2) The arc2challenging part is the project itself. The project needs more people to participate because there are many things that need to be done. *Digging, measuring the site, brushing and etc….”; “The project itself was an interesting thing to me. Although it didn’t go out exactly the way I thought it would be, I was amazed at how everything was done in a certain way. The digging, sifting, measuring of boxes, and picking of things found while digging. Everything was done in a certain order. What did I find challenging about the experience? The challenge was that there was so much work and so little help. I think there should be a bigger team or group involved to get the work done faster. Since this is a 4-year research project, we have been re-invited to join them next year.”

                Following the field experience on Lenger, the students also participated in a lecture series on a Nan Madol Course unit. This lecture series was designed to provide students an overview of Nan Madol. The course unit is collaboration between the College of Micronesia-FSM and the Association for Promotion of International Cooperation (APIC).  The course unit was composed of 3 objectives: 1) Introduction to the peopling of Micronesia; 2) the cultural history of Pohnpei Island, and the archaeological discoveries and oral traditions of Nan Madol. ; 3) The processes taken for the approval of Nan Madol as a UNESCO World Heritage site and its future challenges.  The guest lecturers for all three topics were Dr. Osamu Kataoka of Sophia University, Dr. Rufino Mauricio and Mr. Augustine Kohler of FSM Historic and Preservation office. The lecture series concluded on Saturday (March 09, 2019), with an excursion to the Nan Madol ruins. A lot of credit is given to our guest lecturers and Mr. Jason Lebehn of Pohnpei HPO for an extremely enlightening and refreshing lecture and discussion series, and to COM-FSM for hosting and funding this learning experience.

                Both learning experiences were generally positive for the students, as they have a glimpse of what the career is like. The learning also put more emphasis to what they learned from the textbook. Both opportunities opened doors for both students and faculty to network with local and foreign experts. It remains the goal of the program that in time; more young people come to appreciate and realize the need for more experts in this area of archeology.