Monument Mania: Edwin Corea, Angelo Villagomez, Yolani & Chinelle Camacho (I don't remember which is which), Dyenina Diaz, John Joyner, Yuting Jin, Ken Kramer, Emelaine Fejaran, Laurie Peterka and Belinda Norita at Northern Marianas College.The Friends of the Monument and the Not-so-Friends of the Monument were invited to a presentation at the Northern Marianas College this afternoon on the proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. The presenters, five students taking the "Current Issues in the CNMI" class, made a fifteen minute video on the issue and debuted it today.
In making the video they interviewed Friends of the Monument Ken Kramer, Ike Cabrera, and Andrew Salas and government officials John Joyner and Sylvan Igisomar. They also sat in on a classroom presentation I made and participated in the White House Public Workshop back in October. They broke the video down into four parts: they explained monuments, allowed the Friends to give their arguments for, allowed the Not-so-Friends to give their counter-arguments against and then finished by asking a series of questions that citizens should be asking themselves, their leaders and each other.
They did a great job gathering their data (although I wish they had delved deeper and made some analysis) and all in all I think it was a good experience for them. They were able to participate in an important social issue, learned that reasonable adults can have a difference of opinion, learned how government and policy works (or doesn't work) and were able to meet officials in both the federal and local government.
The exercise of building support for a marine monument has already benefited our community. Not only have we gained international media attention for our fragile, beautiful natural resources, which benefits our tourism industry, but our children are learning about civic issues and the environment.
Over 500 students wrote letters to President Bush sharing their opinion on the marine monument and over 1000 public school students sat in on a marine monument discussion in their schools. Additionally, students at Hopwood Junior High School recently participated in a marine monument debate as well as a scientific symposium at American Memorial Park.
Kudos to our innovative island educators who are using this issue to help their kids learn about the world we live in.
The NMC students conducted a survey as part of their project. They interviewed a random sampling of CNMI residents and found that supporters outnumbered non-supporters by a 2:1 ratio. They found that 37% were "For it," while only 16% were "Against." 33% said they "Don't Know" and 9% said they "Don't Care."