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_     I had the opportunity last week to visit the Kapinga Village here on Pohnpei to witness local dancing.  The Kapinga people are from the island of Kapingamarangi, the southernmost island of Pohnpei State, 740km away.  The dances were in celebration of the New Year, a big event here on Pohnpei.  For an entire week locals banged on pots, pans, 55 gallon drums – anything.  A common scene was having 10-15 people piled in the back of a pick-up truck driving around making plenty of noise.  For those not driving around, groups assembled on the side of the road to make a ruckus and spray water on all the cars driving by them.  Often, many would be screaming “HAPPY NEW YEAR” or “PARAKUP MWAO” with a blood clenching intensity.  It was an interesting cultural encounter to be sure and unlike any New Years I have previously experienced.

    Below is a video of some Kapinga boys demonstrating proper hula technique.  Pardon my giggling, MAHI works with and mentors Nicky (inset) - and this was just too funny!  The rest of the pictures can be found here.  Overall, the whole event was an eclectic mix of dances and skits.  It went from country music ho-downs to hula to toddlers gracefully expressing themselves through dance. 

    On the education front, we visited all our adopted schools this past week, meeting with the principals and setting up our schedule for the rest of the school year.  Currently, our plan is to travel to one school each day (five schools for each day of the week), teaching a 30-minute lesson in grades 6, 7, and 8 and staying after school to work with the students who are most in need.  Mr. B will be working with the majority of the students while I will be taking the lowest performing 5-10 students per class.  MAHI International has been given the generous donation of several Hooked on Phonics programs which I will be using in bringing these kids up to speed.  We are hopeful we will receive our iPads within the next month to use them in our program.

    I have no illusion of how difficult and challenging the task will be to teach students to read who are reading at a first grade, kindergarten or even illiterate level.  In the same breath, I can think of few things more worthwhile than teaching a child how to read.  I will not be alone in this endeavor as Mr. B will be a guiding hand with his 35+ years of experience in education.  It’s incredibly exciting though after all of this time evaluating and assessing to actually have the opportunity make a difference.

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One of my favorite most recent shots entitled "Young to Old"
Drew G.
5/19/2014

Nice pictures of NY's Celebration. We also celebrate March 15 ( Kapinga Thanksgiving Day) the same way as we celebrate New Year. You should've come :)
U still can come next year if u will be still in PNI :)
Thanks 4 sharing ur pictures.

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