Monday, October 15, 2007

History Institute 2007

The Humanities Council, in cooperation with the Northern Marianas College and the Public School System, recently held their month-long history institute at the PSS Headquarters on Capital Hill.

The annual program kicked off on August 18th and ended its run on September 22nd. It featured both international and local scholars: Dr. Brian Butler, Dr. Dirk Spennemann, Dr. Augusto de Viana, Carlos Madrid, local historian and artist Noel Quitugua, Lino Olopai, Brenda Tenorio, Don Farrell, and Humanities Council program officer Scott Russell.

A total of 32 teachers participated in the program from across the three islands— Saipan, Tinian, and Rota—through the video teleconference facility of the PSS.

The institute provides teachers not only with the rare opportunity to interact with the experts in NMI history and culture but it also affords them the chance to get to know the islands and its people better.

Listening to the scholars' lectures on NMI history and culture is an experience to be reckoned with. In just one month, one gets to learn NMI history in a nutshell.

Dr. Brian Butler delved into the pottery culture as well as the techniques that archeologists like him employ out in the field. Dr. de Viana and Carlos Madrid provided engaging lectures on the Spanish period.

From Australia, German-born Dirk Spennemann talked about the German period in rich details. As someone who can read and speak German, Spennemann worked on the voluminous piles of documents on the period.

Local historians and artist Noel Quitugua and Lino Olopai shared with the teachers their knowledge of local arts and traditions, something teachers cannot get from textbooks.

Scott Russell, on the other hand, provided a clear picture of the Japanese administration of the islands. He delved into the interests of the Japanese and other world powers in the South Seas prior to 1914. His discussion of the Nanyo-cho was made even more interesting by an oral account by Tun Juan Blanco himself.

A well-known author and teacher Don Farrell from Tinian discussed World War II in the Marianas. He also discussed some details about the Manhattan Project.

For the period after WWII leading up to the making of the NMI Constitution, it was Howard Willens and Deane Simmer who provided the teachers with the insider's view of the issues as well as the history of the commonwealth.

And capping the month-long series of lectures was Brenda Tenorio's presentation and discussion of the contemporary issues facing the commonwealth.

With an excellent lineup of speakers/lecturers every year, the history institute is one of the best programs of the Humanities Council— it equips teachers with the necessary tool they need in teaching history in their classrooms.

Island Locator Magazine highly recommends teachers to take this crash course in NMI history every year. History aficionados on island will also find this history institute as something they should not miss.

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