A Poipourri Of Positive News, Views

The author joins the first class of the Marianas chapter of the Pacific Fellows. Photo from Mufi Hannemann

The author joins the first class of the Marianas chapter of the Pacific Fellows. Photo from Mufi Hannemann

Some of my fondest hanabata memories are of Presidents Day. February, of course, is when we celebrate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. As a youngster, I loved reading biographies, so I meticulously borrowed books on Washington, Lincoln and other historical figures after making that trek with my mom to Kalihi-Palama Library. Presidents Day is also about that special day for every POTUS.

It is in that spirit, therefore, that I offer sage counsel from the four commanders in chief whose faces are etched into Mount Rushmore.

To wit: George Washington: “If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

Thomas Jefferson: “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

Theodore Roosevelt: “A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues.”

Abraham Lincoln: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroy ourselves.” * “Where America’s day begins” is where a new chapter of the Hawaii-based Pacific Century Fellows program has started. Jerry Tan, a leading businessman and philanthropist in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas and Guam, has taken note of PCF’s track record of developing and nurturing leadership, mentoring, networking and community service among its young leaders. And now he wants a similar initiative implemented in his part of the Pacific.

“Our goal with the PCF Marianas chapter is to provide our Fellows with loads of information, exposure and unique experiences that will enable them to ultimately have a voice and a part in promoting economic growth and culturally sensitive development on these islands we call home,” says Tan.

With the successful launching of the inaugural class of 19 members, the Fellows – like their Hawaii counterparts – will meet all day once a month during the next nine months on a topic they have selected at their opening retreat. Topics will include subjects such as tourism, land use, education and workforce development, government and immigration. Easily the highlight of the year will be an education mission to Hawaii, when they will examine issues of interest in the Aloha State as well as network with members of the 13 classes of Hawaii Fellows, which has been in existence since 1996.

The Fellows of the Marianas chapter range in age from 24 to 43 and come from backgrounds in education, business, government and law, including one who graduated from MIT. Several have ties to Hawaii by either studying or working here. They also hail from all over Micronesia, including Saipan, Tinian, Rota, Guam and the Marshall Islands.

Laie’s Seamus Fitzgerald, Cultural Islands director and Aotearoa Village manager at Polynesian Cultural Center, was invited to speak at the opening retreat on leadership from a Pacific Islands perspective. (Fitzgerald is the brother of Castle High School principal Sheena Alaiasa, who was named National Middle School Principal of the Year in 2013 for her exemplary work at King Intermediate.)

Fellow Joseph Taijeron, a graduate of Notre Dame and Loyola Law School, was so inspired by the Maori-born Fitzgerald’s presentation that in comments to the Saipan Tribune, he stated that Seamus “reminds us that we in the Pacific have a heritage that we can be very proud of, and a lot of the Western ideas are not nearly as advanced as our ideas.”

Talk about Pacific Pride …

* And speaking about pride, that’s what UH Rainbow Wahine basketball and Honokaa alumna Keisha Kanekoa was all about as she heaved a half-court shot in the championship game that enabled her “Green Machine” unit to eke out a three-point victory over the “Orange Krush” squad led by Kamehameha star Alohi Robins Hardy, who is bound for BYU on a scholarship. The scene was our 21st annual Basketball Jamboree at Manoa gym before a packed house. The annual event featured nearly 200 female athletes from all over the 808, ages 10 to late 20s, hooping it up in the name of Title IX and gender equity.

Fact: Did you know that more Hawaii female basketball scholar-athletes play Division I college ball than young men from the Islands every year?

Methinks U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink and Dr. Donnis Thompson would be so proud to see that basketball has come a long way in women’s sports in Hawaii.