Mentorship Program Preserves Traditions in Micronesia

In late March, Habele's partner Waa'gey presented to participants in the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) UNESCO Workshop on Yap. It was an opportunity for the small community based organization to showcase its work across the Caroline Islands.

The workshops were focused on traditional canoe building, navigation, and cultural fishing methods. The presentations were given at the lagoon-side canoe houses where over 30 persons including officials from UNESCO as well as the Federated States of Micronesia's (FSM's) own National Archives participated. Waa'gey volunteers also passed on news of the group's growing network of partners and sponsors as well as its efforts to restore items of historical significance. 

Feedback from the audience was outstanding. The UN officials and others in attendance expressed their enthusiasm for the work, particualry because it was a locally-envisioned, locally-pursued effort. They also noted that both the canoe carving and skirt weaving projects offered educational benefits for K-12 aged students, since Waa'gey's preservations programs are organized around master mentors who are paired with elementary and high school aged students.

"It is important for Waa'gey that our activities are in sync with -and work to compliment- the efforts of others' here that support students in the community," explained Larry Raigetal of Waa'gey. "The mentorship approach in the carving and weaving program not only preserve and revive important cultural traditions, but they function as extracurricular activities for students in the community. We're really proud of that."