Chuuk High School student wins top essay award during Australian recognition of National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee week in Pohnpei

By Alvie Cabanez

KPress Volunteer

On November 13, 2020, the Australian Embassy hosted a dinner reception to cap off the week-long National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week. It is a celebration throughout Australia and is usually held in July. However, due to the global pandemic, the celebrations were pushed back to November this year.

The NAIDOC 2020 theme, “Always Was, Always Will Be,” invites all Australians to embrace the true history of Australia– a history which dates back over 65, 000 years.

Takuro Steele, Charge d’ Affaires, Australian Embassy Pohnpei welcomed the guests who enjoyed an exhibit of mask making from Torres Strait. They also enjoyed the conversations over the various foods and desserts.

The Embassy works with the National Museum of Australia to exhibit these Indigenous art works. This year, the College of Micronesia-FSM agreed to display the panels at the college’s library.

The event opened with a Sakau ceremony followed by opening remarks by Takuro Steele. It was immediately followed by a speech from Hon. Feliciano Perman, Lt. Governor of Pohnpei, who shared his impressions of this year’s NAIDOC theme and works that were being exhibited.

The celebration announced the winners of a nationwide essay contest that had been open to all high school students across the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Students were asked to explain how they relate to the theme as Micronesians.

“2020 is the Embassy’s 5th year to celebrate NAIDOC, and this year is quite special as we decided to include an essay contest involving all the high schools in the FSM,” said Takuro Steele.  “We received a large number of essays from across the country and it was a pleasure to read the many different perspectives coming from FSM’s youth.”

The winners of the contest were Aiko Nakayama- 1st place from Chuuk High School; Bennet Saimon- 2nd place from Nanpei Memorial High School; and Kelly Keller- 3rd place from Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School. Aiko received an HP laptop, Bennet received a Samsung cellular phone, and Kelly received an Alcatel tablet. One of the highlights was Nakayama reading her piece in a pre-recorded video.

The event was attended by Japanese Ambassador Sobashima Hidenobu; Chinese Ambassador Huang Zheng and wife, Zhao Yinguang; Cromwell Bacareza, Chief of UNICEF, North Pacific and wife, Dimple Bacareza; Somer Bessire-Briers, Charge d’ Affaires, US Embassy; The Hon. Kandhi Elieisar, Secretary of Foreign Affairs (representing the Office of the President); Samson Pretrick, Director of the FSM Office of Personnel; representatives of international organizations, business people, and senior officials of the FSM Government.

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