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Articles: Off-island Marshallese Share Culture and Find Opportunities

Contributed by YokweOnline on Jun 25, 2008 - 03:12 PM

Off-island Marshallese Share Culture and Find Opportunities

  • SPRINGDALE Swears In First Marshallese Officer - Gomez Zackious became the first Marshallese speaker
  • PHOTOS: Gomez Zackious, city's first Marshallese police officer. - sworn in to the Springdale Police Department on Tuesday
  • SPRINGDALE : 7 new officers include city’s first Marshallese - not the first Marshallese applicant, but the first to make it through testing.
  • SPRINGDALE: On the Road for Literacy - Lee Elementary in Springdale mobile library van will be ready to begin making its rounds during the second week of June.
  • GUAM: Center will help Micronesians join work force - assist Micronesians in obtaining higher-paying jobs and assimilation into community
  • SAIPAN: CNMI welcomes Oceania Athletics Championship - Competitors from 19 different countries
  • LONG BEACH: Pacific Islander Festival - featured Marshallese Coconut Weavers - Greta Briand and island dancers
  • SALEM: Enjoy an adventure without leaving Salem - World Beat Festival Saturday and Sunday, June 28-29, in Riverfront Park
  • SPRINGDALE: Luis Manjarrez became the seventh Hispanic sworn officer on the force and Gomez Zackious became the first Marshallese speaker. Hiring a Marshallese officer has been a goal of the department for several years. Springdale has the largest concentration of Marshallese residents outside of the Marshall Islands. Along with friends and relatives of Zackious, prominent figures in the Marshallese community came to watch the ceremony. The articulate and friendly Zackious described how he reached Springdale. He was born in Hawaii to a Marshallese father and a Hawaiian mother. "I'm a citizen of the U.S., since my mother is Hawaiian," Zackious said. "After getting out of the military, I was drawn to working in security." Many of the parents of Marshallese children work in factories, Zackious said. He said he wanted to become a police officer to show children they could set their goals higher and pursue other professions.

    ARKANSAS: Flower leis hung around the necks of Springdale’s newest police officers highlighting a first for the department. Gomez Zackious was among seven officers sworn in Tuesday, making him the department’s first Marshallese officer. The new officer didn’t know that Springdale is home to the largest concentration of Marshall Islanders in the continental U. S., when he and his fiancee, Nelia Lalej, moved here. Learning that helped convince him to become a policeman. Zackious said that the chance to help bridge the gap between the community as a whole and its Marshallese population was enough to make him apply with the Police Department.Zackious hopes to be able to make that kind of difference in people’s lives. “We’re proud of him,” said Carmen Chong Gum, Marshallese outreach coordinator at the Jones Center for Families. Chong Gum thinks Zackious will prove to be a valuable resource for both the Marshallese community and Police Department, acting as a liaison. He will also encourage Marshallese youth to become interested in police work, Chong Gum said. Chief Kathy O’Kelley said she is glad to have him as an officer and expects he will provide an added resource. He is not the first Marshallese applicant to the department, O’Kelley said, but the first to make it through testing.

    LIBRARY: During the summer of 2006, Lee Elementary started a mobile library to make sure our students had access to good literature—fiction and non-fiction—throughout the year. Our school is housed in a 56-year-old building in the center of Springdale, a city of about 65,000 located in the northwest corner of Arkansas at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. In the last 10 years Springdale has become more diverse, with an influx of Hispanic and Marshallese families. The Marshallese come from the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific. Lee Elementary serves about 475 students, of which 70% are Hispanic and 75% live in poverty. Our north to south attendance zone is approximately 4 miles long, with most students living at the perimeter of the attendance area at least 2 miles away from our campus. A majority of our students cannot attend summer programs, and the Springdale Public Library is located across a major highway that divides our city, making it difficult for students to check out books. Students, teachers, parents, and the community take great pride in our mobile library! It has been an excellent way for community members, especially Hispanic business people who have built successful businesses here, to give back to Springdale. For 2008, the van will be ready to begin making its rounds during the second week of June, the first full week of summer vacation.

    GUAM: How do we prepare the people of Guam and the local economy for the upcoming military buildup? How do we prepare for the new wave of population from neighboring islands? The center's purpose is to provide training and assistance to Micronesians who are striving to become productive members of the economy. The center proposes to offer cultural sensitivity training as well as work-force development programs designed to assist Micronesians in obtaining higher-paying jobs and assimilation into the Guam community and American society as a whole. The center will concentrate on assisting Micronesians to help themselves through education, work experience and fellowship. Our motivation is to utilize the obvious value of our Micronesian resources and to help stimulate economic growth on Guam and throughout the region. The end result will be Micronesians who are better paid, educated and experienced in a trade or line of work. The empowerment our program will provide will allow Micronesians to determine their own destiny and break the cycle of dependence on public assistance.

    SAIPAN: Competitors for the 2008 Oceania Athletics Championship from the 19 different countries, including the Northern Mariana Islands, were welcomed the island way with great hospitality and friendship starting early last week. This is a special chance and the first time for Saipan to show its ability to host on the region’s largest track and field events. At the 1997 Congress of the IAAF, two new federations from the Oceania Area were admitted as members - the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. With the admission of American Samoa, Guam, the Marshall Islands, Norfolk Island, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Solomon Islands and Tahiti at previous Congresses, the number of member federations constituting the OAA then stood at 18.

    Since that time Kiribati has been added to the Association to become the 19th Oceania Athletic Association Member Federation.

    LONG BEACH: Aquarium of the Pacific. For the first time during the festival, our Pacific Collections gift store will feature selected hand-woven items from the Marshallese coconut weavers.

    SALEM: You'll get a virtual tour of the world's food, music, dances and entertainment, with a focus on the islands of the South Pacific. You won't need to budget for much besides sunscreen — the weather likely will be clear and hot — and the requested $3 donation. This festival, now in its 11th year, stands out from other summer events for the way it celebrates the diversity of the Mid-Valley and Oregon. Many of the performers and exhibitors are local children and adults. They stay in touch with their heritage year-round through ornate costumes, special dances and holiday foods. World Beat is the weekend when they share these traditions with a wider community — as many as 40,000 to 50,000 guests. This year's focus, on Asian-Pacific Islanders, is especially apt. Although just 4 percent of Salem-Keizer schoolchildren are listed as this ethnic background, Marshallese is one of the most common languages other than English spoken at home. This is a chance to better understand these neighbors and the distant lands that have shaped them.

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