Taiwan-RMI cultural exchange

Culture and Internal Affairs Secretary Brenda Alik, right, and Alele Museum staff welcomed the delegation from the Taiwan Council of Indigenous Peoples last week. Photo: Chewy Lin.

Icyang Parod, Minister of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, along with representatives from Austronesian Forum nations, visited the Alele Museum last week.

This visit provided an opportunity to delve into the results of the Council’s contributions to the “Marshallese Language Revitalization Project.”

The welcoming reception and guided tour were graciously conducted by Brenda Alik, Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Internal Affairs, along with the Museum Director, Wisse Amram.

The Alele Museum showcases an array of significant artifacts and records, encompassing traditional fishing tools, wooden navigational charts, canoes, clothing, weaving, and tattoos.

During the Minister’s visit with the guided tour and presentations, he repeatedly encountered the pronunciation of “Alele” in the Marshallese language. Upon inquiry, it was revealed that “Alele” in Marshallese refers to a place for safeguarding important items, a meaningful name that the museum bears. Minister Parod noted that ‘Ariri’ (pronounced Alele) holds a similar meaning within the Amis community, signifying a location where crops and tools are stored. This reaffirms the strong connection among Austronesian nations, he said. Despite the considerable 5,600-kilometer distance between Taiwan and the Marshall Islands, it is remarkable that there are pronounced similarities in language pronunciation and cultural aspects.

In February, the Alele Museum received assistance from the Council of Indigenous Peoples for a language revitalization project. This encompassed training youth to become teachers, developing language learning manuals and videos, and providing summer language classes in Marshallese for children aged eight to 12. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with more than 30 children participating and parents expressing their approval. This initiative allows children, who are taught primarily in English at school, to learn Marshallese through this assistance program.

Solynn Naptino, the project leader, became emotional as she spoke about this achievement, thanking Taiwan for its contribution that enables the preservation of the Marshallese language. She also expressed the hope for the seamless continuation of the project, fostering a future where the language remains vibrant and thriving.

Parod highly commended the outcomes of this endeavor and pledged ongoing support for Marshall Islands’ efforts in advancing the language revitalization project. He emphasized the commitment to ensuring the sustainable development of Austronesian cultures.


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