Palau 2013 Day 03: Getting our Feet Wet

Palau03-1970After finally settling down past midnight, I was up with the sun. Thankfully it was at least after sunrise, as my good friend the rooster (who rises before the sun) has appeared to have flown the proverbial coop. As in years past, most were up pretty early and even though it wasn’t planned, made the 7am breakfast. After half a day here, it feels like I never left, my room is nearly the same, no hot water, the lights don’t work (I’m currently typing in the dark), but with the addition of some rather nice curtains. You can breathe deeply in Palau, not just because the air is cleaner, but also because there’s a peacefulness here, tension instantly lessons. The people are so friendly, everyone says hi to you or good morning as you walk through campus. The sky is bright blue and there is green everywhere you look, jetlag or not, it just feels good to be here.

After breakfast, small groups went for walks around town. Matt and I played tour guide pointing out our favorite places from the last years. First on the agenda for me was Yanos market, where I indulged in my favorite tapioca and a masubi roll. Next it was a quick stop at the Prison, where we chatted with the chief who was super friendly and as it turns out, went to school in Pasadena, then we checked out the art in the prisoner’s gift shop (yep, the prisoners make wood storyboard carvings and jewelry to raise funds for the prison). Finally, we made a quick stop at Long Island, where we had just enough time to stick our feet in the water before we had to head back to the dorms for our campus tour.

At 10am we met in the dorm common room for a reboot on our schedule and to get ready for our campus tour. Day 4 has been switched to our rock island tour (expect lots of pictures!) and Day 5 we will meet with historians. It also looks like we are on track to be able to meet with both the president and queen. At this meeting I also shared Andy’s inspirational letter with the students, which was met with a warm round of applause. Thank you Andy for your constant encouragement and support, you are the spark that keeps this project moving!

Then the super friendly Courtney took us around the campus, showing us the technology labs, the hospitality classrooms (which included a full kitchen and mock hotel check-in desks), as well as the library, where Palau class year two’s Freedom Memorial models have been added alongside year one’s. After the campus tour it was time for lunch, a quick clothing change and then it was time to walk across the street to the government building to meet with 3 of the senators, Rukebai Ianabo, Camsekelias Chin and Masasinge Arurang.

The meeting with the senators went well, the students got their first presentation down and the senators appreciated their ideas. Palau03-4097A new addition to our team this year is Rude Calderon. Rude is an instructor in the Continuing Education department at Otis and was the missing element for the freedom memorial. A trained and season stone-carver, the hope is that Rude can help train Palauan artists to be able to carve the stone monoliths. Palauans are known for their wood carvings and the thought is that this skill will be easily transferable. Senator Chin was especially interested in the Freedom Memorial, having himself served in the US Army. Among the questions the senators had, the location for the Memorial was a primary one. We discussed the potential of the Long Island site, but they also had another idea, an area called Ngetmeduch (just across the way from the crocodile farm, yes, crocodile farm) and in true Palauan fashion, we altered our schedule on the fly and with one phone call to Todd at the PCC, a bus was there and we were off to this new potential site. Senator Inabo met us on the side of the road, outside the site and we walked around discussing its potential. We all loved this new possible site; here the memorial would be visible as people enter Korror from the airport and it also had a different sort of peacefulness to it; it was also a great place to swim! Rule 1. for Palau, always have a camera with you, Rule 2. Always have your swimsuit!

After arriving back at the dorms everyone dispersed to eat dinner, find reliable internet (a challenge in Palau) relax and / or swim. Matt and I were hoping to meet up with Adora, but when work kept her away, we went to the Taj for Indian food and a mango lassi instead. Year one in Palau, we spent a lot of time at the Taj and with Taj owner Robert; however, year two Robert was off island and we missed seeing him. As Matt and I were finishing up our delicious dinner we spotted Robert! Robert joined us for laughs and hookah; we talked about our adventures from two years ago and the current status of the Memorial Project. We were also joined by Robert’s friend Tom, who is installing the new Aquarium in the new lounge section of the Taj. That’s right, for those of you who know the Taj, it’s getting bigger and better. On Saturday the Taj will celebrate its 10 year anniversary and in a few short months an entire new section of the restaurant will open, featuring a dance floor, a wraparound bar and custom made lounges for people to sit, relax and enjoy the atmosphere. While catching up with Robert we saw two students walk by who had just thoroughly enjoyed their meal and they also joined us for a bit. The students were impressed that we were so friendly with the owner, but that’s how it is in Palau; everyone knows everyone, people are friendly and with gaps of a year in between visits, coming back is like coming home.


2 Responses to Palau 2013 Day 03: Getting our Feet Wet

  1. DR says:

    Oh no the rooster is gone?! It’s interesting that the memorial might be moved to another site. That changes everything but that is to be expected.

  2. Joan Takayama-Ogawa says:

    Once again a life transforming experience for our students. Great IL leadership! You will be sad to leave this time, as it is the last journey? Hugs to the PD family.

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