The National, Thursday July 12th, 2012
by GRACE AUKA in Honiara
THE Papua New Guinea contingent to the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in the Solomon Islands for the first time brought along school students from Eastern Highlands province. Thirteen primary school students from Arikaiufa, Unggai-Bena district, and Mando Primary School in Goroka, have been putting up exciting performances at the festival village and at Doma, a satellite venue. Teacher in charge, Helen Nombe, said they were honoured to be part of the festival.“Bringing students to be part of the festival and being young ambassadors representing Papua New Guinea internationally to showcase our culture with the people of the Solomon Islands and the Pacific is something we greatly honour,” Nombe said.She said although it was their first time in the Solomon Islands and part of the large PNG contingent, they felt at home as the environment was quite similar to PNG.Nombe said the students had been part of the cultural education programme in Eastern Highlands since its inception in 2010 by Governor Malcolm Kela-Smith.The programme aims to involve all school students in the province to help revive and preserve the cultures in all districts from dying out.The programme is conducted and taught by elderly local cultural teachers to help young people learn the importance of traditional cultures and way of life.The group consists of 13 students, three elderly local cultural teachers.
Among the students is a young cultural enthusiast, Elizabeth William, six, who has been taking part in cultural dances with the group in Goroka. “We have preserved our culture in dances and songs and have continued to look forward to perform the best shows for the people of this country and other Pacific friends,” one student said.Most of the students have expressed happiness to be in the Solomon Islands and looked forward to more performances in this regional event.Festival PNG organising chairman Dr Jacob Simet said PNG had never included students in such festivals. “I am very happy to bring a number of school students from Eastern Highlands because mostly it is the older people who have always come for these festivals,” Simet said.