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Pacific Speaker Series

A series of distinguished guest speakers from throughout the Pacific Islands who will help educate, inform, and inspire the UH Hilo community on matters of importance to the region and its citizens.

Spring 2014

Francis X. Hezel, SJFr. Francis X. Hezel, SJ - Jesuit author, educator, consultant

Public Lecture 1

Title: "Making Sense of Micronesia: The Logic of Pacific Island Cultures"
When: Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Time: 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Where: Campus Center 301
Cost: Free
Open to the public.

Who are these Micronesians in Hawaii? Why are they here? Why do Micronesian women and youth seem so silent? Why do these people, unfailingly polite for the most part, laugh openly when others embarrass themselves? What does a smile mean to an islander? What might a sudden lapse into silence signify? Why are they so lavishly generous with food and material possessions but seem guarded or event absent from school functions? These questions are common in encounters with an unfamiliar Pacific Island culture. This talk is intended for Americans who find themselves in contact with Micronesians—as teachers, social workers, health-care providers, or simply as friends—and are puzzled by their island ways. It is for anyone struggling to make sense of cultural exchanges they don’t quite understand.

Public Lecture 2

Title: "Women's Roles in Micronesia: Then and Now"
When: Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Time: 5:00 - 6:00 pm
Where: Campus Center 301
Cost: Free
Open to the public.

Women's power was once real but understated. Because of changes in the family brought on by monetization of the economy beginning in the 1960s, women's power has been diminished and they today face serious abuse problems they had never faced before.

About the Speaker

Since arriving in Micronesia in 1963 as a young Jesuit, Fr. Hezel has tirelessly served Micronesia in a number of ways. He was the founder / director of the widely popular Micronesian Seminar (www.micsem.org), which is a nonprofit organization that serves the people of the four Micronesian countries that emerged with the dissolution of the former trust territory: the US Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas and the three nations that are self-governing in free association with the United States: the Republics of the Marshall Islands and Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia. The Micronesian Seminar engages in a wide variety of educational initiatives, conducts research on historical as well as contemporary topics, sponsors seminars and conferences, and is much concerned to stimulate reflection and public debate on current issues. Its extensive library, film, video and photograph collections are invaluable resources for researchers from around the world.

A self-taught historian, Hezel has published a half dozen books and well over sixty articles on Micronesia and his influence on Micronesian studies has been described as formidable. He is frequently consulted within and beyond Micronesia by government officials, educators, researchers, and development specialists. He has received honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Guam and Fordham University, his alma mater. Most recently, Hezel has been conducting research with Micronesians now living in the United States.







Joakim Peter

Joakim Peter - Ph.D. candidate, educator, activist

Public Event

Title: "COFA's 'Special Kind of Trust:' Untangling the Unhealthy Racial Cacophany"
When: January 24, 2014
Time: 4:30 - 5:30 pm
Where: Campus Center 301

The Compact of Free Association (COFA), a treaty between the U.S and three Micronesian nations, is now in its 28th year and its impacts and consequences are profound and contested in every level of our public and personal discourse. The terminology that categorizes Micronesian presences in Hawaii and through out the nation is aggressive, assertive, misleading, and to an extend, even damaging. One of those contested discourse is the politics of COFA citizens’ access to healthcare and the push towards related change in policy. The healthcare issue has casted the presence of COFA Micronesians in Hawaii as problematic and popular targets of racist jokes and hate threat. The talk will navigate through the cacophony of racism towards COFA citizens in Hawaii that has dominated public discussion and understanding of each other in order to chart a common and shared experienced in our communities.

About the Speaker

Joakim "Jojo" Peter is a PhD fellow in the Special Education, College Education at UH-Manoa. He is on leave from the College of Micronesia--FSM Chuuk Campus where he teaches in the Education and Social Science Division. He is involved in healthcare access and other community advocacy issues for the Micronesian communities in Hawaii.


Fall 2013

Lauhala & Jaki-ed - Hawaiian and Marshallese Weaving Revival: A team of Marshallese women who are reviving the art of weaving traditional mats will be speaking and demonstrating the art at UH Hilo.

September 12, 2013
11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Campus Center 301

Leilani TamuLeilani Tamu - Writing and the Art of Cultural Diplomacy: Personal Reflections on "being Pacific" from a Kiwi Polynesian. Leilani is a poet, magazine columnist, Pacific historian, and former New Zealand diplomat.  She was born in New Zealand to a Samoan mother and Pakeha father.  She "brings a fresh perspective to the table when tackling issues of social and cultural relevance to the Pacific region" and "has written about issues as diverse as racism, unemployment, property investment, cyber bullying, youth suicide and motherhood." Her first book of poetry The Art of Excavation is due out in early 2014 "is a collection of work that traverses the inter-connected themes of Pacific history, colonisation, comology and genealogy." >Download Poster Now

September 23, 2013
4:00 - 5:00 pm
Campus Center 301