More Than Just A Dot cover

More Than Just A Dot

By


I feel it would be fair to say that the average person outside of the Pacific Region wouldn’t know much about the island nations that exist here. On many world maps the nations get left off all together. The maps that do contain the nations are set on a scale that results in the nations being nothing more than a dot and a name. On our mission we have found that among these ‘dots’ is a diversity that is complex, extensive, and unique. Each place is rich in culture, traditions, and beliefs.


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars on 1 review




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More Than Just A Dot

Rich In Culture

I feel it would be fair to say that the average person outside of the Pacific Region wouldn’t know much about the island nations that exist here.

On many world maps the nations get left off all together. The maps that do contain the nations are set on a scale that results in the nations being nothing more than a dot and a name. On our mission we have found that among these ‘dots’ is a diversity that is complex, extensive, and unique. Each place is rich in culture, traditions, and beliefs.

The National Anthem

The National Anthem

Kolonia, Pohnpei, (June 22, 2015) – (Left to right) U.S. Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia, Doria Rosen, U.S. Defense Representative to the Federated States of Micronesia, Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, Commodore, Task Force Forager, Capt. James Meyer, and New Zealand Air Force Chaplain Ken Diekema, stand for the playing of the national anthem of the United States during an opening ceremony June 22.

Working Together

In Tarawa, Kiribati there were several things that stood out more than others. All the locals had a genuine warm and welcoming nature.

In their culture, engaging, acknowledging, and honoring guests is highly valued. Each place we visited we were greeted with food, drink, and a friendly handshake. People were eager to show us their homes and churches, schools and businesses, and introduce us to their families.

Tarawa is densely populated with minimal land available. They have no choice but to live as a community and work together. Each village had their elders and the people would work together for the good of the village.

Kiribati Ceremony

Kiribati Ceremony

Tarawa, Kiribati (June 17, 2015) – An I-Kiribati girl presents a traditional garland to Commodore, Task Force Forager Capt. James Meyer during a ribbon cutting ceremony June 17.

Sharp Contrasts

It seemed to be a culture where individuality was not as important as the wellbeing of the group.

The land was flat with minimal resources. The people are dependent on the sea and the natural resources they have must be utilized carefully.

In Pohnpei, the Federated States of Micronesia there were some sharp contrasts. The land was volcanic, wet, and full of jungle rain forest. The island was rich in resources that allow for people to live off the land.

Chaplain Ken Diekema

Chaplain Ken Diekema

Tarawa, Kiribati (June 16, 2015) – New Zealand Defence Force Chaplain Ken Diekema delivers the benediction during a ribbon cutting ceremony June 16 at Bikenibeu Primary School.

Good Athletes

There was also a much smaller population with more space and land.

Instead of tight-knit villages with houses in close proximity, the people had space to expand and space for privacy. This was reflected in their culture as well. People were more reserved and quiet than in Tarawa.

Another impression is that the people were very active and sports focused. We encountered more sports facilities than expected, and they were clearly well utilized. Basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer, and track and field were prominent. After participating in the U.S. Embassy-sponsored basketball tournament, it was clear there are many good athletes here!

Dancing

Dancing

When the band played in Tarawa, kids and families would flock to the concert and were quick to dance. In Pohnpei people sat quietly and enjoy listening at a distance. When they did dance though, it was impressive. The people were great dancers. People were friendly and welcoming but in a much quieter and reserved way.

Pohnpei (June 26, 2015) – Musician 1st Class David Baine dances with a Micronesian girl during a concert June 26.

Impressive

As a chaplain, I was impressed by the strong influence of missionaries. Both places have a very religious culture with Christian churches in every village.

Religion is engrained in the culture and routine. It has been a joy to go to their churches to worship with them. The singing is astounding, and I usually find myself stopping and listening instead of participating myself.

I have had many great conversations with local pastors and theological teachers. Their passion and devotion are inspiring. I am learning much on this mission and am enjoying the experience of learning about new cultures and people. I look forward to the next month of interaction and I count it a true privilege to be traveling between countries I only once knew as ‘dots’ on a map.

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