The Northern Marianas Humanities Council celebrated its 25th anniversary with a dinner gala last Friday at the Pacific Islands Club Saipan and featured an Oceania poet as its keynote speaker.
Board chair Frankie M. Eliptico said he is delighted to be at the helm of the council, especially as it celebrates a quarter century of existence.
“Being the chairperson for the Humanities [Council], 25 years after its initial beginnings is a very humbling honor. I have great respect for the individuals, executive directors, and board members who came before me and laid the groundwork to make sure humanities is what it is today, which is this great and important organization in the CNMI that advances the understanding of the human experiences.”
According to Eliptico, funding for the council comes from a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the generosity of individual and corporate sponsors.
Keynote speaker Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a poet from the Marshall Islands who participated in the United Nations climate talks in Paris, talked about her advocacy for climate change.
“Climate change is something very real to me. Living at home and seeing how vulnerable our island was led me to realize that I had a fear of existence that wasn’t there before and with everything in life, I turned to writing to understand that fear,” she said.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres presented the Governor’s Humanities awards to Peter J. Perez for preservation of traditional cultural practices, Viola S. Deleon Guerrero as an outstanding humanities teacher, and the late David Kapileo Peter for the lifetime achievement in the humanities.
In a posthumous message to the council, Peter, who was honored also by a musical tribute during the event, said, “People should be acknowledged more while they live so they can celebrate it with their families, not when they pass away.”