High Schoolers On Yap To Carve Traditional Canoe

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Waa’gey Colonia, Yap, FSM

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Outside their classrooms, over 20 students and classroom teacher Patrick Kelly from the Yap Catholic High School or YCHS along with Waa’gey volunteers were clearing under a shady tree that will become their carving site for the next few months. A fallen log that had been cut down during the initial clearing of the new school campus was identified for the students to carve their first canoe.

Before all the carving took place, Larry Raigetal of Waa’gey gave some safety tips on how to handle carving tools including adzes. A brief lecture was also given on core principles and fundamental values of canoe carving. The students wasted no time in getting their first hands-on experience by starting to carve out the main hull of the canoe.

The project which had been in discussion between Waa’gey and YCHS for the past few months was put into motion following a school visit by Waa’gey volunteers where a presentation was given to students on the values of traditional skills including canoe building and navigation.

Kelly who teaches at the school said the project will also allow students, particularly those who are skilled in hand work, to carve other things, such as the school seal and crosses to be put on the classrooms.

"The students are very excited in doing this extracurricular work," Kelly said.

This is a historical project as it could be the first canoe ever carved out by high school students on the island. Furthermore, the fact that more than half of the student participants are female presents quite an interesting scenario, said Raigetal of Waa’gey. While the process of canoe carving lays out specific roles for both genders, actual carving is one carried out by the men. Waa’gey is also considering bringing its weavers under the project.

The project allows Waa’gey carvers to visit the school once a week and work with the group. However, at some later stage of carving, and as dictated by carving procedures, more frequent visits and work on the canoe will become necessary.

Waa’gey is a community-based organization founded by local s and chartered under Yap state laws. Waa’gey uses traditional skills to confront the social, economic and environmental challenges faced by the people of Micronesia’s most remote islands.

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