Milañ engages in Japan exchange


Milañ Loeak with the two other APIC young leaders program participants Joleen Ngroriakl of Palau, and Teresita Laarwon from Yap. They are wearing kimono, a traditional Japanese garment. Photo: Moeko Kita.

Three young women from the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau recently completed the 10-day Micronesian Young Leaders Program under the Association for Promotion of International Cooperation (APIC) in Japan.
Milañ Loeak, managing director of Lieom N. Corporation, her family’s investment company, was selected from the RMI on the invitation of former ambassador to the FSM Shoji Sato as an up-and-coming leader in the region.

The APIC program engaged the three participants in learning, sharing experiences, and building bridges with APIC local partners and key people in the government, private sector, and NGOs. The visit included visits to the Japan International Cooperation Agency and Pacific Islands Center.

Loeak is especially fond of Women’s Association of Kyoto (WAK), a group founded by Michi Ogawa in 1997, which specializes in offering cultural experiences in kimono wear, the traditional tea ceremony, and cooking. Loeak was impressed with how culture and modernization blended together and believes that “we can start such a program to show off our manit and men ko bwinnid.” The WAK program is a good example that shows Marshallese can also maintain culture in an ever-changing global scene, she added.
On the more technical side, Loeak was able to visit Edogawa City, a special ward in Tokyo dedicated in waste management and keeping itself a “green city” in the metropolis. Majuro Atoll Waste Company’s boys have learned from such lessons in Japan, Loeak said, but we have to think not just about how we can tap into resources and possible partners, but also how we can make such efforts sustainable. Opportunities such as APIC program makes for good networking, something that Loeak has come to value over the course of her career, which has opened many doors, she said.

When asked how the RMI can get more students interested in taking advantage of these offers, she said that people have to take a step further than mass texts, newspaper, or radio announcements. To hear it from the horse’s mouth is a good way for young people because they want to sit and bwebwenato (talk story), said Loeak, adding that to speak with people who have experienced it makes it more engaging and meaningful. Furthermore, after students come back from study tours or exchange programs, it is important to have someone, a teacher or counselor who is passionate and hands-on, to guide those who want to study abroad in schools such as Sophia University in Tokyo, she said.

Read more about this in the May 17, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.