We ate a bat, met the President of Palau and Hee Jae Learned to swim: Palau Day 5

What do art students do when they go to the beach??

They make water art of course! Err or splash each other and then admire their work.

Today has been another awesome day! Today was Sunday and we had most of the day free to relax and explore. As we had the previous two mornings, most of us were up with the sun, so we regrouped over cafeteria food and shared what each of us had done the previous day. There was a group of divers that swam with sharks and giant clams, a group of snorkelers that reported what they saw “was more magnificent than anything else they had ever seen,” and another group that was given a private tour of the island by one of the PCC security guards. My goal for today was total submersion, I had been on Palau for 2 full days now and had yet to go swimming, I needed to fix that today. Some of our group had gone to “Long Island” the first morning to swim, so we got a group of a half dozen of us together and walked the mile to a little cove with warm, crystal-blue waters and tiny fish. Ahhh the water is so warm in Palau. I’m a wuss when it comes to cold water, and I’ve had no problem jumping in and out of the water in Palau. At Long island, we baptized our cameras, testing them out by taking random pictures of each other, dove into the water and just relaxed.

After the water fun we worked up an appetite and decided to visit our new friend Soline for some lunch at the Flamingo (ok, I really wanted coffee, but food sounded good too). This was my first time seeing the lunch menu and I was interested to find “fruit bat” on there. I’ve had some interesting foods in my lifetime, but never bat. A quick survey of the table and it was decided, let’s get some bat! Only a few sips into my coffee, a bowl was brought to the table… a bowl with a bat in its entirety. I guess when I ordered the bat, I didn’t think about the presentation, but here it was in front of me, an entire bat in a bowl of soup, eyes, teeth, wings and all. After the obligatory photos (sorry mom, I quite literally played with my food), we dug into the bat, and you know what? Bat tastes good! Unlike so many meats, bat doesn’t taste like chicken, more like beef actually, but it’s quite good and the broth it produces is also quite tasty. The wings of the bat are a bit chewy but also quite palatable.

After the bat and coffee it was time for more swimming so we met up with more Otisites at Rip Tide beach, a gorgeous white sand beach, perfect for a person to take their first few strokes in learning to swim. We have a special group of students. We like to say we have the best of the best, (there was an application process for the students to go on this trip) but more than just their academics standing, our students have such great hearts and spirits. Hee Jae, a senior Toy design student, is one student whose spirit never ceases to impress me. Korean born and deaf, Hee Jae has a number of language barriers she could use as excuses to stop her from experiencing things, but if you thought those things would stop her, you just don’t know Hee Jae. Hee Jae had always wanted to swim, but was never allowed to take lessons, well, until today. With help from her interpreter and the students, Hee Jae learned to float and took her first few strokes. I couldn’t stop grinning watching her smiling face as Hee Jae propelled herself from one side of the group to the other.


After all the swimming, it was time to take care of business. As amazing as Palau is, we have an even greater reason for being here, the Palauan Freedom Memorial. So, at 5pm it was back to the Taj to meet with THE president. That’s right, the President! We didn’t know how the meeting would go, President Toribiong is a very busy man and we didn’t know if he would have time to listen to the student’s presentations, but after shaking each person’s hand, the president said of course he would like to hear what the students had created. In the words of our class mentor, Jeffrey Vallance, “It could not have gone better!” The students stood with poise and confidence, as they explained their proposals for the Palau Freedom memorial to this nation’s President and other heads of state. At the completion of the presentation, President Toribiong literally said he had been lefts speechless. Palau had their first Memorial Day celebration the weekend before our arrival in Palau and very recently they also lost another Palauan in combat, so the Otis proposals for the freedom memorial are quite timely and meaningful to the Palauan people.

There were so many more small moments in the day I wish I had more time to express, this has been an amazing experience so far… just wait till you see tomorrow’s photos!!

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3 Responses to We ate a bat, met the President of Palau and Hee Jae Learned to swim: Palau Day 5

  1. Andy Leeka says:

    Allison and esteemed Students:
    I love reading about your experiences each day. I am so pleased and proud of the students’ presentation to the President! You guys knocked it out of the ballpark.
    I miss all of you. I am privileged to have such a talented team working on this very important project. Andy

  2. Joan says:

    So glad to see Ryan, Mo, and Andy…Beautiful experience in every way. Life changing.

    Joan Takayama-Ogawa

  3. Barbara Tecle says:

    Brought tears to my eyes, tell Hee Jea I’m so happy to hear that she reached one of her goals in life! You go girl! BT

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