Rota Summer Youth Program

August 1, 2008

At the Rota Department of Community Affairs (formerly the Manamko Center) in Songsong Village some lucky children are spending their summer having fun and learning in an outstanding summer program. On Thursday I was invited to visit the program with classes featuring crafts, weaving, sand painting, and cooking of local foods. A series of nipa huts house the separate activities where master artists and cooks instruct the children. Sports activities and games take place in the Roundhouse next to the huts. The program was made possible through the combined efforts of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, The Department of Youth Services, NMC, the Historical Preservation Office, the Mayor’s Office, and the Department of Public Safety. Barrie Toves, Director of the Department of Youth Services and Lourdes Manglona, Director of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs were there overseeing classes.

Well-known Pacific artist, Jun Toves and his wife, Carmen are leading a sand painting workshop. Children are learning the basics of the craft as the Rota artist leads them patiently through each step learning the skills to complete their own sand painting. An entire wall of Jun’s artwork is on display showing detailed work featuring mermaids, flowers, and other island themes in muted shades of tropical colors. Jun participates in exhibits throughout the Pacific and has his work is exhibited in the mainland, Japan, and China. (For more information on Jun’s sand painting see this post.)

I watched master cook, Julie Calvo lead a workshop on cooking coconut donuts. Eight adorable children in white bandannas followed each step and perfectly formed the delicious donuts. Violeta Opena and Antonia Cablay worked with Julie at the cooking station.

My son Josh's former classmate, Antonelli Rosario led a weaving workshop, which Nani was invited to join. She learned to make a fish and a star from coconut fronds. Woven birds, baskets, crickets, and hats were also on display.

Lourdes Manglona believes in recycling and reusing items that are often discarded in creating crafts an art. She instructs students how to create picture frames using wood from pallets, pine cones, small woven ornaments, shells, coral, and sand. The students were using hot glue to create original frames for their sand paintings.

Department of Public Safety personnel also taught the youth a boating and water safety class at Teteto Beach. Thanks to everyone for letting Nani and me share in this exemplary program!