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Staying Connected

February 1, 2010

It’s hard to believe it has been nearly three years since my trip to the Pacific. It’s hard for me to imagine the gorgeous greens and the humid heat of the islands as I look out the window at the snow and ice. It’s on these days, these frigid, Northern Michigan in January days, that I feel so far removed from the Pacific. Not removed in terms of proximity, I know where I am. Rather, these days remind me of the contrast between life in the Pacific and life in Michigan.

With that being said, I am amazed at how many islanders actually call Michigan home, even if only as a surrogate. I can remember how surprised I was to find out there was actually an Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies program at the University of Michigan. I was even more surprised, if not bewildered to find out that there was not only a community of Pacific Islanders at the University, but they were authentic. What I mean is they were not haoles from Hawai’i, but they were Tongans, Fijians, and even a Pohnpeian. It blew my mind. It was through these people, and through the APIA Studies program that my passion for this particular part of my heritage grew. In fact, I don’t think I would have made the decision to cancel my flight home from Hawai’i to fly to Micronesia if it were not for these people.

But that was then. Now I am somewhat removed from this community at the University, saved only through facebook chats with a few of my former professors turned friends. I can’t help but feel somewhat alone in my islanderness. I have my brothers here, but they don’t seem as in touch or in tune with the Pacific. My dad, admittedly has been “white-washed”. (Is it okay to use that term?) However there are islanders here. I’ve met Samoans, Fijians, there is even some talk of Hawaiians. I think the problem for me is I have no sort of relationship with these people. Even if I did, how much could we actually share? I mean it’s great to have Ploynesians, Melanesians and Micronesians, but is seems we are all too consumed with our lives here to know what’s going on in the American Lake. (Thanks for the term Damon.)
So what do I do? I can read the news and blogs focused on the Pacific. I can try to make real connections with the islanders here while checking in with my friends in Ann Arbor. I can blog. So if you know of any good news sources, blogs, events or people, let me know.
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