Cultural Heritage Month Symposium raises importance of culture


Talks of culture and leadership during the Cultural Heritage Month Symposium held yesterday at the World Resort of Saipan stirred inspiration and pride among the students of Saipan Southern High School, Kagman High School, and Marianas High School.

Keynote speaker Fr. Arthur Leger SJ, who is French/English/Kiribatian/Tongan, talked to the students about indigenous leadership, despite a shaky introduction about indigenous leadership.

“What I wanted to communicate is that this phenomenon called indigenous leadership could just become something that people make up and think about without facts. That’s the negative part. I wanted to take the positive parts of a myth, and say that if an indigenous leader wants to be effective today, he needs to take the functions of a myth and appropriate it.”

According to Leger, an effective indigenous leader is one that knows the three “L’s.” “One must talk with Life to the people and you must engage in Learning, and Loving yourself,” said Leger. “A lot of indigenous people don’t love themselves because of their identity. I think that love of self is extremely important, especially for these young people. If we don’t love ourselves, we don’t learn, we don’t give life. Those are my hopes for the students,” he added.

Leger is addressing the feeling of the students for the need of a different learning medium for culture, which in his opinion, is completely unnecessary. “We are bringing out students. The majority are high school students for them to learn about their culture, which they feel, needs a different type of learning environment. That’s why this is important,” said Leger when questioned on the importance of the event. “I think preserving all indigenous culture is important because they are distinct. I think that one and everybody knows it, but they were discriminated against. I think they have a story to tell that is different to other stories, and that is my big point, that they need to tell their own stories in their own languages, with their own symbols.”

Day 2 of the CHM Symposium would start today at 7am, in the Royal Taga Hall of Saipan World Resort, with keynote speaker Souder Betances & Associates Inc. senior diversity consultant Dr. Samuel Betances.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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