Youth with big minds
By Rhealyn C. Pojas
If you will name all the big people and leaders in Palau that made huge contributions across all industries, one irrefutable fact you could say would be that all of them had once been a child. The same goes to men and women who had made significant contributions in the world throughout history.
Recognizing the role of the young people living in Palau in the development of the country, Palau President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. signed on March 11 Presidential Proclamation No. 18-230 declaring March 11-17 as the Youth Week. [restrict]
The same presidential proclamation stated that “young Palauans and the young people living in Palau are the future of the country and [they] comprise a significant proportion of the population, such that investing in and understanding the needs and aspirations of this young people is an indispensable factor in our policy development…”
A popular adage about youth that has been passed on from generation to generation even says that the youths are the leaders of tomorrow but if you would really think about it, Palauan youths prove that they could actually be the leaders of today.
As a celebration of the youth week, Island Times interviewed four young people in Palau to know and hear their different views on the different fields where they are recognized or have excelled.
Heart in Art
Christopher Isechal, 17
Quiet the introvert type, this young Palauan has interesting skills and views about art. In fact, just recently, he had placed 4th in an art competition participated by youths from different countries all over the world.
In his winning piece, he depicted a scenario of different types of sharks coming together during mating season.
Isechal said that art for him is “an experience that you have to venture yourself into and see how it is. It’s like a feel that you get when you see it.”
Aside from his recent accomplishment, Isechal said his other works were also previously featured in the Arts and Tides Calendar in Palau. Arts and Tides Calendar art contest is annually conducted in Palau by the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) since the Center opened in 2001.
Isechal narrated that as a child he was always an indoor type of person who used to spend most of his time at home by just straining his eyes on TV. But realizing this, his aunt, who “dabbles in art”, taught him to draw at around the age of four and that was the beginning of his journey in the world of art.
From then on, Isechal had been making artworks using pen as a medium.
“I think my art could influence more people to start doing art for the love of it and not for money,” Isechal shared.
Top of the class
Ikelau Lorinda Uro, 16
This young Palauan had been recognized for her good academic track records, topping almost all of her classes with an average mark of A.
Uro shared that she had been chosen for a special type of educational program called the Career Technical Education (CTE). Due to this, she is now attending high school and career-related classes in Palau High School (PHS) and Palau Community College (PCC), all at the same time.
Aside from having impressive academic records, Uro is also part of the Belau Kanu Club, a national paddling team.
“I wasn’t quite the athletic type. It wasn’t until summer of last year [that] I was introduced to the beautiful sport of paddling, and I’ve been hooked on the ocean and the feeling of sore muscles ever since then,” Uro expressed about her recently found interest.
“I feel that we need to emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle to the youth of Palau,” Uro shared when asked about what certain observation in the Palau Community that she thinks must be improved. She said that she had “witnessed countless personal accounts of her peers jugging down fatty and disease-risking drinks, and chowing down on salty and sweet fast foods.”
Uro added that a healthy lifestyle helps increase energy levels, boosts confidence, and cultivates creative thinking, among others, which she reiterated, would be wondrous to Palau’s education system and the society as well.
“I’m proud simply by my nationality, being a Palauan. I’m proud that we are a small nation surrounded by the never-ending sea, yet our nation has transcended beyond that,” Uro said.
The Young Traditional Chanter
Eoghan Olkerril Ngirudelsang, 19
With the younger generation more hooked into gadgets and the social media, who wouldn’t be interested to know that there is still a member of the young generation that develops interest in the preservation of Palauan traditional Chants?
You are probably seeing a lot of his face as he appears on TV for a news program and talk shows. Aside from that he also makes appearances in special activities as he is asked to do traditional Palauan Chants in various events. In fact, according to Ngirudelsang, he was able to go to other countries such as the United States and the Philippines just to perform this traditional presentation.
“I’ve learned to chant when I was really young…and I have been very interested in that and [since then] I’ve always been asked to perform chants – all Palauan Traditional Chants,” Ngirudelsang said, narrating that he learned the Chant from his Grandma’s older sister.
The aspiring politician
Keilan T. Kenny, 17
This young man’s leadership experiences had made it beyond Palau as he narrated that he had been able to go to other places abroad to represent Palauan youths in different programs.
Two years ago, Kenny went to Japan as part of the World Youth Ambassador program and just last year, he was able to go to the US as part of the Junior Statesmen of America at the Princeton University where he got to spend a month there.
This year, Kenny is also set to go to South Africa for a youth conference as representative of Palau and the Pacific region in a Christian gathering.
“As a youth of Palau I strongly stand for quality and fairness among students and fair opportunity and equal opportunities for all,” Kenny said, who shared that he has interest in becoming a politician and lawyer someday.
If given the chance to be politician, Kenny said that the first thing he would do for Palau is to “eliminate nepotism within the government where I see that people are playing favoritism because of family and whatnot but that shouldn’t be because when we are in the office, we are not running for families but for the whole Palauans.”
As a youth leader, Kenny believes in simple principle such as respecting and honoring the older people and culture. [/restrict]