Graduating with Humility

Graduating with Humility

I’m deeply grateful for the friends, students, and community leaders who came to support me for my doctoral defense presentation. On July 22, 2017 I will join my cohort to graduate with a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) degree in Professional Educational Practice from the College of Education at University of HawaiĘ»i at Manoa.

That day will be a humbling day for me. It will be literally a dream come true because I’ve wanted to finish my educational journey (at least the credential part) at UH Manoa. As much as I would have thrived in a doctoral program in any of the Jesuit institutions, I needed to come home to the Pacific to learn from other indigenous Pacific leaders.

Graduating from the highest form of Western-influenced education is only the start of my real education. What follows after my graduation will be the deepening of my learning. For me as an indigenous Chuukese, that means learning my indigenous ways through service, listening, working alongside people, and helping my nation of Micronesia.

My EdD professors will have done their part in filling my head with knowledge and challenging me to grow beyond myself. Then it will be up to me to make meaning of that knowledge. My hope is that the degree will open up opportunities for me to deepen my own appreciation of my indigenous knowledge. I may never achieve the level of pwo (master navigators) or repien fanuw (community leader), but I better have the deepest appreciation and respect for them as the final arbiters of my learning and growth in the preservation of orienien fanuarh (indigenous knowledge).

My indigenous diploma will not be gold embossed for wall display, but rather imprinted in the sweat equity of service to my people. My true success will be measured only in as much as my Micronesian community reach their highest God-given indigenous potential proudly and humbly. As an educator, I need to make sure that schools in Micronesia are forming Micronesians to appreciate our indigenous knowledge, cultures, histories first and foremost before continuing to learn the colonizers’ ways. We can only become true global citizens by having a foundation and appreciation of ourselves and where we come from. Otherwise, we continue to perpetuate a culture of self-depreciation and devaluing of our heritage. 

July 22, 2017 cannot be the end / graduation, but the commencement / start of the deepening of my doctoral education. I will stand ready to proudly receive my doctoral hood and diploma from my awesome faculty advisers and committee members, dressed in the dorky-looking Medieval regalia and hat. If I have a giant smile on my face at that moment, it will be because of blissful completion of the pain of academic pursuit.

On that day, my heart will be smiling large, grateful for all the pilooy (companions on a journey) who have helped me reach my goal. My soul will embrace the humility necessary to embark on the next journey beyond the ivory towers of academia into the sea of indigenous knowledge.