ThinkBigPalau: Transforming Palauans Into Global Problem Solvers
This post was written by Joleen Ngoriakl, a One Young World Ambassador from Palau. She was born and raised in Palau and is now pursuing advanced education in international politics and development in the United States. She maintains a blog on Medium where she writes about social justice issues, climate change, and Palau.
Throughout many civilizations in the past and sadly, still many today, education is reserved for the elite and fortunate in society. However, social media and digital technology have changed that. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogging, podcasts, and many other digital platforms allow people from every walk of life to share their stories, ideas, and solutions in an unprecedented space that transcends both geological and imagined boundaries such as race, gender, and class. ThinkBigPalau uses new media to bring the world to Palau, and Palau to the world.
“Throughout many civilizations in the past and sadly, still many today, education is reserved for the elite and fortunate in society. However, social media and digital technology have changed that.”
ThinkBigPalau was created out of the compelling need for critical thinking and analysis on issues concerning our small island. Along with the accessibility and ubiquity of social media and digital technology, we are able to meet that need and more. Right now, we use these mediums to share Palau news and events as well as global news and scholarly research that impact Palau and other Pacific Island nations.
The cool thing about it is this: we are able to not only share information with our audience, but interpret them with our own lenses as Palauans and citizens of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). This not only makes the process more accessible to our community and people but also allows us to engage in the global discourse as problem solvers for some of the most pressing issues of our time. Whether it’s analyzing a new study on sustainable agriculture, examining solutions to illegal fishing, sharing interesting articles on Palau’s effort to secure a marine sanctuary, and even reporting the dangers of not vaccinating children or giving an overview of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), we’ve got it all covered.
This process involves a lot of daily research and keeping up with local Palauan and world events. We have been managing with a three-person team: myself (international politics and social justice), Mr. Lee Boo Gibbons (business and aquaculture), and Mrs. Mia Kuartei-Skang (technology and education). We are all trained in different fields and have work and study outside of ThinkBigPalau but are committed to this project even on a volunteer basis. We are truly dedicated to informing and educating the public with the highest degree of information integrity – we guarantee the validity and reliability of our sources.
Our ultimate goal, which is in the works, is turning ThinkBigPalau into a nonprofit think tank that focuses on sustainable policies in Palau and the neighboring islands. Right now we are in the strategic planning phase and are hoping to incorporate within the next three years depending on funding.
It is not enough that we are a democratic country; it is imperative that we create informed policies that are born out of meticulous research and analysis. This is the pinnacle of democracy – creating policies that respond to the needs of the population. To do this, we must start by educating the masses in order to cultivate a culture of vigilant, responsible, and well-informed citizens who will then influence the policy-making process. Keeping true to our name, we push people to think big by expanding their scope of understanding through mass education and information. For example, we have a number of projects that align us to this mission such as our EduSource where students, teachers, parents, and lifelong learners can use as a reliable resource for course lessons, tutorials, and research. We also have a major online classroom project underway. We do this because we truly believe that education and critical thinking training should be accessible to everyone.
“To do this, we must start by educating the masses in order to cultivate a culture of vigilant, responsible, and well-informed citizens.”
ThinkBigPalau is our response to the challenges we face in our corner of the world as well as challenges faced by humanity as a whole. My team and I believe that in order to solve the world’s most pressing issues, we need diverse voices and well-informed Palauans and small island nation citizens can add richness to this process.
Joleen Ngoriakl is a One Young World Ambassador from Palau. She was born and raised in Palau and is now pursuing advanced education in international politics and development in the United States. She maintains a blog on Medium where she writes about social justice issues, climate change, and Palau.