U.S. STUDENTS RALLY TO SUPPORT MARSHALL ISLANDS

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By Aenet Rowa, Yokwe

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe, Jan. 3) - From the Hawaiian islands, northward to the cold regions of the Yukon, then across the Continental United States to the Eastern Seaboard, a new generation of Americans is stepping forward to help a people in the Tropical Pacific who have sacrificed much in support of U.S. Defense and World Peace.

Upon learning about the nuclear legacy of their nation's Cold War nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands and hearing of the continuing challenges facing the Marshallese, some U.S. teens are investing time and energy in doing what they can to help.

In the town of Skagway, known as the Gateway to the Klondike Gold Rush, the "chilling" history of the impact of nuclear testing in the Marshalls is being retold by local students.

Shelby Surdyk, Sierra Moran and Erica Harris, members of the city school's Drama, Debate and Speech Team, performed "For the Good of Mankind," a 12-minute Reader's Theatre piece, to demonstrate the value of their extra-curricular activity to the local School Board.

The story is presented from the perspective of persons exiled from the Marshall Islands during and after the testing of the atomic bomb on Bikini Atoll by the U.S. military. The performance included a reenactment of officers giving the command to detonate the bomb, the aftermath of nuclear fallout and birth of jellyfish babies, the debate in U.S. Congress, and the marketing of the bikini, which was named after the islands. All members of the Board agreed that the performance was exceptional, reported the Skagway News.

A church youth group in Sterling, Virginia wants to help the people of the Marshall Islands by collecting books. "There is one library serving the approximately 62,000 inhabitants in the Marshalls," according to the Sterling United Methodist Church announcement for the "30,000 Books for the 30-Hour Famine" drive.

"These islands gained world wide notoriety in the late 1940’s and 1950’s as the site of no less than 67 atom and hydrogen bomb tests at Bikini and Enewetak. The effects of the forced relocations and radiation remain a legacy of the people to this day."

LifeSigns Youth Fellowship had collected over 12,000 by mid-December. They are looking for any book suitable for libraries ranging from children’s books to novels to college level literature and textbooks. They will pack the books, and the Marshall Islands' shipping registrar will ship the books to the islands free of charge.

In another book drive, Dayna Chikamoto of Honolulu, Hawaii, collected more than 4,000 books, some donated by local schools - Waialua Elementary, Waikiki Elementary, McKinley High, Roosevelt High, Iolani and Saint Louis. Dayna told the Star-Bulletin that she was saddened by the news that students in the Marshall Islands lacked learning materials.

Dayna packed over 214 cases of books, and Continental Airlines provided space on its planes to send the books to Majuro, the capital of the Republic of Marshall Islands. She plans to round up more books.

"I just hope I'm helping them get a better education by providing the books," said Dayna.

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