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Rhonda Emwalu

Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia

Rhonda Emwalu

My name is Rhonda Dina Emwalu. I am from the state of Chuuk, from the island of Piherarh in Namwun Weito atoll, one of the remote islands outside Chuuk Lagoon. I was born on the main island of Weno and raised on my little flat atoll that has a population of 500 people. Where I am from, men do the fishing and thatch-roofing while the women do weaving and go to the taro patch. Women perform traditional dances on special occasions while men do the stick dance, or apengek, in which the men swing and sway their hips in a rolling motion and clap the side of their biceps while singing charming songs dedicated to their lovers.

I went to a public elementary school on my island and later attended a private catholic high school in Weno. I graduated in 1996 and went to a two year college in Pohnpei, the capital of the F.S.M. I transferred to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo in fall of 2003. I am now pursuing a B.A. in Psychology. As you can see, education is very important to me—my goal is to help reform educational curriculum for elementary schools back home.

I love poetry so much because when I put myself into the language of a poet, I feel like I am thinking beyond rational thought. Mostly, I think it's the only way I can express my feelings.

Excerpt from Making Waves

Mother Oceania

Wall Hanging

For she is whom, heavenly grace
Has bestowed greatness and blessings
To be honored and adored;
A mother of all the islands and creatures
That have exulted indeed, and
Blessed be her name.
She has given life to all of her children in the Pacific and
Has poured incentive caring for all, and
Blessed be her name.
She is so righteous, soft, and generous, and
Blessed be her name.
Her genuine love is but endless, and
Blessed be her name.
She had filled us with good things and
Had nurtured us all in her loving arms, and
Blessed be her name.
She is all that we have survived and
Fully remained, and
Blessed be her name.
We should praise her name and
Give thanks to her,
Mother Oceania.

Mother Oceania has a wondrous heart,
Forgiving, loving, and caring,
She neither hates, disdains, nor harms;
Mother Oceania is always there and
She will always be there till whenever,
Wherever there is trouble and hardship,
Mother Oceania can twist magical power for them.
For she mindful,
Aware of her creatures,
Day and night, she watches over her children and
Pacifies them into the molding of her tender arms
With the vast cleansing of water.
Her hands are widely open,
To whoever wishes for her care.

Ancestries have incredible idioms of her.
Of all, they became masters with her;
They played, rafted, and
Navigated her water,
From East to West they've brought along,
Treasures of knowledge:
Tales, riddles, legends, magical wishes, and
Supernatural powers to teach the younger generations;
Upon landing they printed a mark of their voyage,
Knowledge and skills were naturally and
Practically taught.
The Ocean was their home from Mother Oceania, and
It is passed on to us.
They followed the moon, the stars, and
Have exceeded the open sky;
They chanted their ritual songs of ocean breezes and
Ocean creatures have listened to them;
They perceived the wind, wave, and celestial bodies,
As their guides on their journey;
As for the younger generations, we should rehearse and
Play our parts.

Other worlds look down on Mother Oceania;
They critique her and
Single out her minimal source;
In spite, they never perceived
Her massive absoluteness;
They give her an instinctive notice and
Apprehend her as nothing.

Though they may figure Mother Oceania as
Small and unworthy,
This will never be true in the mind of any Pacifica.
Let us hold the truth for we have seen it and
We have proven them wrong,
For we have seen She has a magnificent outreach
That expands incredibly,
That pretty soon will beat the torch and
Just slam the realm;
So stand tall Pacifica, and
Let us say our praises and thanks to Mother Oceania,
For it is her that we have come to identify ourselves,
And it is her that we have come to identify who we are,
Our dignity, person, and culture.

Amen.