The graduating class of 2014 with counselor Tolina Tomeing (in blue).

Star trainee sums up program’s value

Emotions ran high at the graduation of the WAM Class of 2014, with proud smiles being the order of the day. The keynote address was presented by Chief Secretary Casten Nemra and WAM Director Alson Kelen also spoke to the trainees and their friends and families, but one of the biggest highlights of the October 2 ceremony was the speech made by star trainee Etmina Mojilong on behalf of her peers:

My joie is Ejowa and I live in Rita with my mother and father, brothers and sister. I am 22 years old and I graduated from Marshall Islands High School in 2011. Right after high school I enrolled in CMI (College of the Marshall Islands) and took developmental English and Math. After three semesters, I decided I needed to find a job that would let me contribute to my family’s finances.

I worked at a small store in Rita for a while, but it was not what I really wanted to do. I couldn’t go back to school because I owed the school and had no way to pay it back. I was feeling kind of lost and not sure what to do for myself, so this year, when one of my friends told me about the canoes program, I applied and was accepted.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted from the program, except I heard that I would learn about my culture and that It might help me get a job. I did learn about my culture. I learned about the names of the parts of the canoe and how they are related to our culture and what they mean in our culture. I learned how to sail a canoe, which was very exciting for me.

But I learned so much more. I learned how to use hand tools and power tools and how to measure using a measuring tape. I learned how to work with patterns and designs and how to put things together carefully. I learned how to follow instructions.

But I also learned about myself. I learned about self-discipline, about achieving goals, about being part of a group. I learned that I can do anything a man can do if I just learn how.

I would like to thank my counselor Tolina Tomeing for her guidance and help. I would like to thank the carpentry instructors Linton, Binten, Maston, Isocker for teaching me carpentry. I would like to thank Linton for helping me with math. I would especially like to thank Binten and Linton who taught me how to sail the canoe, even though I am a woman. I would like to thank Ken for teaching me how to build a rowboat and how to manage time. I would like to thank Bonny for helping me improve my English skills in reading, writing and speaking Englih.

And, finally, I would like to thank Mr. Kelen for letting me in this program and for giving us all this opportunity to improve ourselves as Marshallese citizens.