Students produce creative RMI stories

Majuro Middle School students engage during an animation workshop run recently at the International Conference Center in Majuro. Photo: Hilary Hosia.


Local students in Majuro and Ebeye were given the chance to show their audiovisual creativity in a series of workshops that will lead to a soon-to-be-released film and graphic adaptations of Marshallese legends.

A team from the United Kingdom collaborated with the local organization Jambo Arts to sponsor drawing and animation workshops involving students from Ebeye Public Elementary School, Majuro Middle School and Laura High School. They brought in Maori-Niuean artist Munro Te Whata to lead drawing and animation workshops using iPad pro devices with young people and adults on Ebeye and Majuro.

“With assistance from Dustin Langidrik, and working with Munro on the iPads, students have produced graphic adaptations of two traditional Marshallese stories — one about a mejenkwaad with the Ebeye students, and one about Bokjanwur, a boy who raced a miniature canoe against a chief’s son — with the Laura students,” said program organizer Michelle Keown. “These graphic adaptations will be published later in the year and made available on our ‘Marshallese Arts Project’ website.”

But this is only one part of a bigger picture that Keown and Shari Sabeti, both of the University of Edinburgh, have been involved with here for the past two years.
Among other creative projects in RMI:

• Through a partnership with Jambo Arts, filmmaker Jack Niedenthal was commissioned to run film-making workshops on Ebeye and in Majuro. The Ebeye activities resulted in the short film “The Batkid of Monkubok,” which will be released soon, and in Majuro the workshop participants began developing a script based on a fictional drunk driving incident.
• Local students and Waan Aelon in Majel trainees joined together for navigational knowledge workshops on board the Okeanos canoe.

• Keown and Sabeti are working with PREL and the Ministry of Education to produce a set of teaching resources aligned with the RMI school curriculum to accompany various bilingual publications the group has produced over the past two years working with students in the RMI. The publications include: a graphic adaptation of Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner’s poem “History Project” on the nuclear test legacy that is illustrated by Munro Te Whata; and a volume of poetry and art by students from Ejit Elementary School, Majuro Co-Operative School, and Central Middle School in Hawaii. These were produced from creative writing workshops led by Jetnil-Kijiner and mural-making workshops led by Hawaiian artist Solomon Enos in 2017.

Their project is called “Navigating Futures: Arts education as a route to youth empowerment and pedagogical innovation.” It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK, as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund scheme.

Read more about this in the June 28, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.