Reflections

This past week I’ve been in Palau attending the Pacific Education Conference where I presented on “Activating Youth Voices for the International Stage” alongside my friend, photographer Daniel Lin from the non-profit PREL (Pacific Resources for Education and Learning).

After the presentation, a woman came up to me. She said she had watched me perform my poem, “Dear Matafele Peinam.” She asked me how I could make a promise like that, to my daughter and my granddaughter, that they wouldn’t have to move, “when your islands are clearly doomed.”

I was packing my things, and I watched the reaction in my body. Interesting enough, my body was a lot calmer than I expected. Only a slight raise in pulse, no blood in the eyes, no racing heartbeat.

I said, slowly, “Because there’s still time. There are still studies out there that prove we can still turn this ship around. Honestly, I disagree. I don’t think we’re doomed.”

She says, “But don’t you think you’ve been living there long enough? I just think you’ve all been there long enough and there’s plenty of other lands and islands to move to. It’s time to move on.”

I said, “Our people have been living there for hundreds, thousands of years –“

She cut in “and maybe that’s enough.” She went on to explain that there’s plenty of land in other islands, even here in Palau that we could move to.

“But that wouldn’t be on our own land. We would be outcasts here, burdens, refugees.” She waved her hands dismissively at me.

“I married an islander and made a life here, plenty of islanders marry other islanders and move away and they’re able to continue living their life.”

“But you’re talking about more than 60,000 people.” I also added that climate change wouldn’t just destroy our land, it would destroy Palau’s – it would destroy all of the Pacific. It would reach the whole world. That’s been another crucial message of mine. But she waved this away.

“Well look at the movie Moana” – something inside me shriveled – “they were voyagers and they just needed to continue voyaging. Perhaps that’s what your people need to do – they need to continue voyaging.”

I said, “With all due respect, that’s a Disney movie.”

She shrugged and said, “I just think there’s no other choice – you’re doomed.”

I don’t even remember exactly how we wrapped up the conversation. She basically repeated herself, like a horrible broken record. I didn’t rush it, I continued packing my things. I forced myself to speak slowly, calmly. “I see where you’re coming from. And I see your point. But I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

She shrugged. Said ok and left.

Here I am a few nights later, and I can’t sleep thinking about this conversation.

The fact is – it does raise doubts that have always been there in the back of my mind.

Is this the right course of path? Just two months ago I emailed a friend telling him I was attending a 1.5 conference held by Rhodes Scholars in London to see if he’d like to meet up. This friend, who is older and an artist who’s been doing quite a lot of art work for climate action, emailed me a quick note saying he was out of town. He also added, rather dismissively, that “there’s no point in the conference – sorry to say there’s no way we’ll reach 1.5 at this rate.” It hit me hard. He might as well have also said our islands are doomed.

Why are we fighting? Why am I fighting? For such tiny strips of land – land that doesn’t have particularly good soil. I can’t even grow a damn mango tree on our sandy soil. It’s a parched sort of soil that isn’t giving. If anything, it’s downright stubborn, even selfish. So why fight for it?

For the past three months, I’ve been giving non-stop poetry workshops, presentations, and performances on both climate change and nuclear testing – two issues bigger than myself, my nation, bigger than hyperbole, with no easy solution in sight. I spent a week covering 5 different public middle schools and high schools in Portland Oregon, giving presentations and facilitating poetry workshops on climate change. Then I gave a workshop and presentation on climate change and poetry to Rhodes Scholars in London. After this, I facilitated poetry workshops with Marshallese middle school students in Ejit, Majuro, and Hawaii, on the topic of nuclear testing. After that, presentations on climate change in Australia National University. Then fundraising for our organization Jo-Jikum through presentations on climate change in Japan covering as many as 15 different events, and 700 people. Last week was my latest, with poetry workshops to a small group of Palauan high school students who were also conducting studies on rhinoceros beetles and food security.

Perhaps I am burned out. A rest would help. I miss my daughter.

I also wonder how many consider me naïve, irresponsible for instilling false hope, for focusing on this issue above others. I don’t know if I’m leading others down the wrong path. I think that’s what scares me most. I don’t know for sure that we’ll save our islands. There may be a time when I’ll have to admit defeat. I envision that moment, when I’ll begin packing the details of our island into my body. When I’ll force myself to remember that this is what the sea grass feels like. This is what sky looks like against ocean. This is an overcast day, the sun brushing against my neck. That the water can be so much warmer than I thought.

Thing is, that moment isn’t here. Not yet. And maybe I’m like the soil from my land. I’m stubborn. I’m not willing to give up more than I have to.

I will say this. Connection to land doesn’t just happen anywhere. It doesn’t happen magically overnight. Our people studied the land for thousands of years to understand it. And not just the land, but the ocean as well. If you don’t have that connection – then it’s hard to explain and empathize with us. Maybe that’s the issue.

All I know is, I’d rather go down fighting. This I know for sure. I’d rather keep fighting till the very end – until we are absolutely sure that there is nothing else we can do. Until then I’ll face the future. Head on.

Share Post:

custom

01:59am, 09/17/2018

Indian http://metropoliscomix.com/ tablets for women .

golden goose sneakers

01:35am, 02/11/2019

I simply desired to say thanks all over again. I do not know the things that I might have followed without these tricks documented by you directly on that subject matter. It became a very fearsome condition in my opinion, nevertheless coming across a specialised style you processed the issue took me to cry over fulfillment. I’m thankful for this assistance and in addition sincerely hope you know what an amazing job you’re undertaking training men and women thru your web site. Most likely you haven’t come across any of us.
golden goose sneakers http://www.goldengoose.us.com

bape hoodie

02:41am, 02/12/2019

Thank you so much for giving everyone an extremely spectacular opportunity to read articles and blog posts from this blog. It is usually very nice plus packed with a great time for me personally and my office friends to search the blog on the least three times weekly to learn the new guidance you have. And indeed, I am also at all times happy with all the attractive solutions you serve. Selected 1 facts in this article are truly the best I have ever had.
bape hoodie http://www.bape-hoodie.us.com

michael kors purses

04:15am, 02/12/2019

I must show my respect for your kindness for individuals that need help on your concept. Your very own commitment to passing the message all over ended up being extremely valuable and has in every case helped most people much like me to attain their goals. This insightful instruction signifies so much to me and substantially more to my colleagues. Regards; from all of us.
michael kors purses http://www.michael-kors-handbags.org.uk

yeezy boost

05:45am, 02/12/2019

My spouse and i ended up being very thankful Peter managed to deal with his preliminary research through your precious recommendations he gained from your own web pages. It’s not at all simplistic just to choose to be offering concepts which most people may have been trying to sell. We really do know we now have the writer to thank for this. All of the illustrations you’ve made, the easy website navigation, the relationships you will aid to foster - it’s mostly excellent, and it’s helping our son in addition to the family believe that the situation is cool, which is exceptionally essential. Many thanks for all!
yeezy boost http://gul.ly/ur2ep

golden goose outlet

09:53am, 02/13/2019

I simply wanted to develop a brief comment to be able to thank you for these lovely recommendations you are posting at this site. My prolonged internet lookup has now been honored with wonderful content to go over with my partners. I ‘d state that that many of us website visitors actually are definitely lucky to dwell in a useful site with many wonderful individuals with great hints. I feel very much happy to have seen the web site and look forward to some more cool moments reading here. Thanks a lot again for a lot of things.
golden goose outlet http://www.goldengoose-outlet.us.com

timberland boots

10:39am, 02/13/2019

I’m writing to make you know of the really good encounter our girl gained checking your webblog. She figured out numerous details, including what it is like to have an ideal teaching style to have others just know precisely chosen problematic subject areas. You really surpassed visitors’ expected results. I appreciate you for distributing those beneficial, trustworthy, explanatory and even fun thoughts on the topic to Evelyn.
timberland boots http://www.outlettimberland.us.org

yeezy boost 350

11:32am, 02/14/2019

My spouse and i felt quite fulfilled Louis managed to complete his researching through your precious recommendations he received from your weblog. It’s not at all simplistic just to continually be giving for free thoughts which often most people have been trying to sell. Therefore we figure out we need the website owner to give thanks to for that. All of the illustrations you made, the straightforward website menu, the friendships you can help to foster - it’s got mostly spectacular, and it is helping our son in addition to our family feel that that concept is entertaining, which is certainly seriously important. Thanks for all the pieces!
yeezy boost 350 http://www.yeezyboost350v2.org.uk

michael kors outlet store

12:08pm, 02/14/2019

My husband and i have been comfortable Louis could conclude his homework while using the ideas he gained from your web site. It’s not at all simplistic just to always be giving out guidelines other folks might have been making money from. And we do understand we have got you to appreciate for this. All the explanations you’ve made, the easy blog navigation, the relationships you will assist to create - it’s got everything extraordinary, and it’s assisting our son in addition to us understand that situation is entertaining, which is certainly unbelievably mandatory. Thank you for everything!
michael kors outlet store http://www.michael-korsoutlets.us

birkin bag

03:19am, 02/15/2019

Thank you for every one of your efforts on this web page. My mum really loves carrying out research and it’s really simple to grasp why. A lot of people hear all of the powerful way you deliver precious items via the website and invigorate response from people on that point and our child is certainly understanding a lot of things. Take pleasure in the remaining portion of the year. You have been doing a wonderful job.
birkin bag http://www.hermes-birkin.us.com

nmd

07:15am, 02/15/2019

I wanted to compose you a little observation to finally say thanks yet again considering the pleasing pointers you have provided in this case. This is quite tremendously generous with people like you to supply freely what a lot of folks could possibly have offered for sale as an e book to make some dough for their own end, chiefly given that you could possibly have tried it in case you decided. Those tips in addition served as a easy way to fully grasp that other people online have the same interest much like my own to find out great deal more when considering this issue. I know there are numerous more pleasant situations ahead for people who read carefully your blog.
nmd http://youl.ink/nmds

adidas zx flux

10:40am, 02/15/2019

I have to show some appreciation to this writer for bailing me out of this crisis. Right after surfing around throughout the online world and obtaining techniques that were not pleasant, I was thinking my entire life was over. Living devoid of the strategies to the problems you’ve solved all through the short article is a critical case, as well as ones which may have in a wrong way damaged my entire career if I had not discovered your web site. Your talents and kindness in controlling the whole lot was very useful. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I had not discovered such a solution like this. I can at this moment look forward to my future. Thanks for your time very much for the professional and amazing help. I won’t think twice to propose your blog to any individual who requires guide on this topic.
adidas zx flux http://www.adidaszxflux.com

air max 2019

06:27am, 02/16/2019

My spouse and i got really joyous Emmanuel managed to round up his inquiry through the precious recommendations he made from your very own web page. It’s not at all simplistic to just find yourself giving freely strategies which often the rest could have been selling. Therefore we fully understand we now have the website owner to thank for that. These illustrations you’ve made, the simple blog menu, the friendships you will assist to instill - it is mostly remarkable, and it is helping our son in addition to us feel that that content is entertaining, which is certainly incredibly important. Many thanks for the whole lot!
air max 2019 http://www.nikeairmax2019.us.com

goyard bag

11:41am, 02/16/2019

I precisely wanted to appreciate you yet again. I’m not certain what I might have handled in the absence of those recommendations documented by you about this field. It absolutely was an absolute frustrating crisis in my position, but finding out this professional fashion you solved the issue took me to jump over gladness. I’m just happy for the guidance and then sincerely hope you really know what a powerful job your are providing training men and women by way of your blog. I am certain you’ve never got to know all of us.
goyard bag http://www.goyardbags.us

nike flyknit

08:10am, 02/17/2019

My wife and i were absolutely fortunate when John managed to finish up his reports through the ideas he acquired from your blog. It is now and again perplexing to simply happen to be releasing procedures a number of people could have been trying to sell. And now we see we have the writer to appreciate because of that. The type of illustrations you have made, the straightforward blog menu, the friendships you can assist to foster - it’s all unbelievable, and it’s really letting our son in addition to the family consider that this subject is brilliant, which is unbelievably indispensable. Thanks for all the pieces!
nike flyknit http://www.nikeflyknit.us.com

yeezy boost 350 v2

10:03am, 02/17/2019

Thank you a lot for providing individuals with remarkably brilliant possiblity to read in detail from this site. It can be so pleasing plus packed with a lot of fun for me personally and my office colleagues to search your web site at least 3 times in a week to read through the latest guides you have got. Not to mention, we are at all times amazed concerning the breathtaking inspiring ideas you give. Certain 1 tips in this post are really the most efficient we’ve ever had.
yeezy boost 350 v2 http://fox.ci/VG7QA1m

yeezy shoes

12:54pm, 02/17/2019

My wife and i got very excited that Raymond managed to deal with his investigation by way of the precious recommendations he received through your web pages. It’s not at all simplistic just to be handing out things that some others have been selling. Therefore we grasp we have the blog owner to thank for that. The specific illustrations you made, the easy website navigation, the relationships you will give support to foster - it is many astonishing, and it’s really letting our son in addition to the family consider that this topic is excellent, and that is incredibly vital. Thanks for all the pieces!
yeezy shoes http://www.yeezy-shoes.org.uk

golden goose sneakers

09:17am, 02/18/2019

I simply had to thank you so much once again. I do not know the things I would’ve tried without the actual tips shared by you on my area of interest. It truly was a challenging issue in my view, nevertheless witnessing the expert approach you handled the issue forced me to leap with contentment. I’m just happier for your service and then have high hopes you know what a great job that you are putting in training others by way of your blog. I know that you haven’t come across all of us.
golden goose sneakers http://www.golden-goose.us.com

mbt shoes sale

02:05pm, 02/18/2019

I and my guys were actually following the nice techniques located on the blog and then then I had a terrible suspicion I never expressed respect to you for them. These people appeared to be as a result warmed to read through all of them and already have very much been taking advantage of these things. I appreciate you for actually being considerably accommodating and also for opting for this sort of fine things most people are really eager to discover. Our own sincere apologies for not expressing appreciation to earlier.
mbt shoes sale http://www.mbtshoesonline.com

kevin durant shoes

09:53am, 02/19/2019

Thank you for your whole work on this website. Kate takes pleasure in engaging in internet research and it’s easy to see why. Many of us know all regarding the powerful ways you deliver invaluable tips by means of the web site and even increase response from other ones on the article plus our girl is now studying a whole lot. Have fun with the remaining portion of the new year. You are carrying out a first class job.
kevin durant shoes http://www.kd-10.us


Dashboard Menu

  CREATE AN ENTRY   VIEW MY PROFILE   UPDATE MY PROFILE   LOG OUT