PCEP Update: July 2016

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Aloha · Talofa · Yokwe · Paing Kowos · Kaselehlie · Ráán Ánnim · Mogethin · Alii · Håfa Adai · Tirow

Greetings PCEP Partners! Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) is pleased to present the June/July 2016 bi-monthly PCEP Newsletter Update. We have stories from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Guam, and Hawai‘i.

The stories in this newsletter are examples of how PCEP is supporting communities and schools in addressing climate impacts in their place. The first story is about water security. The second is about Indigenous knowledges and practices for sustainable living. The third is about food security through learning gardens. The fourth—closely connected to the third—is about Indigenous beliefs realized through traditional stories. Each example illustrates how specific PCEP resources and partnerships support climate education in the region.

Also keep an eye on our web portal, where we have one new resource added since the last Update. For any comments or questions, please send to Emerson (odangoe@prel.org).


FEW LOTS – In”still”ing a Making Mind-set

Beginning April 26, 2016, the University of the South Pacific (USP) in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) partnered with the RMI Public School System and PREL to conduct training on solar water distilling technology. This training is funded by Food, Energy, & Water: Leveraging and Organizing Toward Self-sustainability (FEW LOTS), which is a supplemental grant to both PCEP and Water for Life—a broader project funded by the National Science Foundation focusing on informal STEM education around water. Dustin Langidrik, who leads the sustainability efforts at USP, along with his colleagues and students worked—and played—with the FEW LOTS Energy Course faculty, Reagon Gallen, and students from Life Skills Academy who are in the FEW LOTS program. Carpentry students from the Marshall Island High School (MIHS) also joined in the training.

After learning how distillation works—essentially, the water cycle in miniature—students broke up into groups to design modifications to the current hoop system still design as presented by Dustin. This designing and exploratory activity encourages divergent thinking and creativity. Participants also practiced communication skills, measuring and calculating, and cooperation. After only five lessons, the participants completed their first solar hoop system still. Click on this link to access a Public Google Drive folder containing a 15-minute video (and two trailers) detailing the design, construction, and use of the solar stills. The video was produced by the FEW LOTS collaborators Christian Sebastian and the students of the Media Club at the College of the Marshall Islands. They have partnered with PREL on other projects, including PCEP, WfL, and Successful Early Eco-literacy Development (SEED).

Each solar still can desalinize 3 to 5 gallons of freshwater from 12 to 15 gallons of seawater, depending on the weather. Over 2 weeks, this dream team will build and install five hoop system solar stills on the MIHS campus. A symptom of anthropogenic climate change is unpredictable weather including extended drought, thus having simple and appropriate technology to generate fresh water in the RMI—and the Micronesia/Pacific region—is crucial. This training not only taught STEM content and skills to students, but it also may save some lives in the long run.

report by Dr. Koh Ming Wei; photo courtesy of Dustin Langidrik

Reflections from FestPac 2016: Excerpt from Pacific Storytellers Cooperative

Last month was a memorable one for all of us, with the Festival of the Pacific Arts (FestPac) 2016 and the PREL retreat. During the festival, every day was filled with performances, workshops, and cultural demonstrations. Each day contained its own stories and lessons and, being that it was my first ever FestPac, I couldn’t get over just how many island groups were represented!

However, the most memorable part for me during my entire time at FestPac was the opening ceremony. This cultural welcome saw a fleet of Refaluwasch (Carolinian) and Chamoru (Chamorro) canoes sailing into the Paseo Boat Basin at sunrise.  This was a beautiful moment for everyone in attendance, to see a horizon full of voyaging canoes against the orange hue of sunrise. As the canoes sailed in, chants could be heard from the crews aboard each vessel, only to be matched by chants from different communities watching from shore.

Perhaps I’m biased because of my personal (albeit limited) experiences as a voyager, but I couldn’t have fathomed a more beautiful harmony of sights and sounds. I don’t know if ancient Pacific Islanders had ever gathered in such a manner—one where Polynesians, Micronesians, and Melanesians all joined together in songs and chants as one unified family. But looking around me, it is clear that we all share in the collective realization that the massive ocean which separates our islands is also the same one that unites us. To me, this sense of solidarity is the most important part of FestPac. It is also why I cannot wait until 2020, in which Hawai‘i will be hosting the next FestPac. By that time, Hōkūle‘a will have completed her voyage around the world and will most likely be leading the procession of voyaging canoes onto our Hawaiian shores.

report by and photo courtesy of Daniel Lin

Editor’s note: The Pacific Storytellers Cooperative is an internet platform for place-based stories from the Pacific Islands to be shared with a global audience. This multimedia effort embraces the rich Pacific storytelling heritage and brings it into the internet age. Stories that emerge from PCEP—including those related to climate change education and local ecological knowledge—are being featured in this platform.


Teachers Train with Hawai‘i School Garden Curriculum Map

From June 6 to 9, 2016, 30 teachers trained with the Hawai‘i School Garden Curriculum Map (HSGCM) at the Kū ‘Āina Pā Summer Intensive program held at the Kona Pacific Public Charter School (KPPCS) in Kealakekua, HI. Nancy Redfeather (The Kohala Center) Amanda Rieux (Mala‘ai: The Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School) and Dr. Koh Ming Wei (PREL and PCEP) successfully led the event, with PREL and PCEP colleagues Evelyn Joseph and Dr. Emerson Odango in attendance.

The HSGCM is the culmination of 7 years of collaboration among Dr. Koh and her colleagues, including educators in the Hawai‘i Department of Education (HI DOE). When developing the map, the co-authors reviewed many exemplary frameworks including PCEP’s K–12 Science Climate Education Framework (CEF): Climate Science Concepts and Skills for Pacific Island Students. Some of the learning outcomes of the CEF were included in the HSGCM. This was the fifth cohort of the Kū ‘Āina Pā Summer Intensive. The overarching goal was to help teachers learn to navigate the HSGCM and create a standards-based garden program.

The map provides a scope and sequence for a school garden program, especially one that might be aligned with various HI DOE and US National standards. The map provides topics, learning outcomes, garden activities, and classroom extensions for grades K–8, organized around four themes: A Sense of Place, Living Soil and Plants, Nourishment, and Nature’s Design. Each day of the Intensive focused on one theme in the above order. Dr. Koh distributed copies of the PCEP books Our High Island Home and Pacific High Island Environments to the participants to use as curriculum map resources.

The intensive was an important opportunity for teachers to learn from the leadership team and from each other. A resounding theme throughout the 4-day event was the importance of sense of place, especially since all of the participants live/work in different places. Day 1 allowed the participants to learn more about the immediate place where the KPPCS is located. Kumu Keala Ching from Ke Kula ‘o ‘Ehunuikaimalino shared the mo‘olelo (place story) of the ahupua‘a (land division from uplands to the sea) in which the KPPCS is located, thus merging culture, history and scientific observation—all in the context of learning gardens.

report by Dr. Emerson Lopez Odango, with contributions from Dr. Koh Ming Wei;
photo courtesy of Dr. Koh Ming Wei

Finding Cross-Cultural Connections in Planning for Garden Learning

Day 3 of the Kū ‘Āina Pā Summer Intensive program (see above story) focused on the theme of “Nourishment.” I had the opportunity to reflect with Evelyn and her colleague from Marshall Islands High School—master gardener Dako Nating (originally from the Solomon Islands)—on how composting in particular can be made relatable to students from a cultural perspective. We searched for connections to composting beyond just sustainable gardening and science-technology-engineering-mathematics (STEM).

We realized that composting can be framed in the broader idea that through the death/decomposition of a living thing, more life will be produced afterward. In searching for stories or proverbs that illustrated this idea, Evelyn shared the traditional Marshallese story about Tōboḷāār, the boy who was born only with a head and no body, who would then die and become the coconut tree. This story immediately reminded me of a nearly identical Mortlockese story that was shared to me from a member of the Mortlockese community in Pohnpei—in some versions, it is a boy with no body, and in others, it is a túróópwon (moray eel). This was a realization of similar story/plot elements within the Micronesia region.

Immediately thereafter, I summarized for them the Tagalog story of alamat ng niyog, which is the story of a mother with several children, who then died and became the coconut tree, thus providing sustenance for her children. It was an amazing moment in which I saw that I as a Filipino have something in common with Marshallese and Mortlockese communities—not just through recurring story elements, but also through the words themselves: Marshallese ni, Mortlockese , and Tagalog niyog all mean ‘coconut tree.’ Those words are also connected to the language of the place of the training: Hawaiian niu (coconut tree). Teaching composting in a school garden can provide opportunities to teach about languages and cultures—sense of places…in this case, Austronesian places—alongside agroforestry and chemistry. These and many more realizations sprouted from the generative, fertile space that was cultivated throughout the Kū ‘Āina Pā Summer Intensive.

report by Dr. Emerson Lopez Odango; photo courtesy of Dr. Koh Ming Wei

New Resource: Climate Change in Hawai‘i

Since the last Update for April/May 2016, we have added one more new resource to the PCEP web portal Resources page at pcep.prel.org/resources/: the Climate Change in Hawai‘i booklet by Dr. Chip Fletcher. This resource is part of a series of booklets by Dr. Fletcher about climate change in various regions of the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands.

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