The past three years have been surreal, but none more so than 2022. Looking back over the past 12 months, I constantly had to check the dates to ensure that said event happened this year and not last year or two years ago.
Interestingly, this was the year when things were supposed to return to normal. Flights were re-established, families and friends re-united, international borders opened up, supply lines resumed, students returned to the classrooms, in-person meetings returned, and more normal activities resumed. While they continued, they did so at such a fast pace that it felt like we’d been spun like a top and released.
The world tried to pack the two years lost to COVID into the year it opened up. We went from school closures to mass vaccinations, to covid surges, to the 7th Our Oceans Conference, to the Pacific Ecological Conference, to the First Traditional Chiefs Conference, to re-opening flights, to mass testing, to leaving PIFs, to going back to PIFs, and in between all of these, we debated new school systems. Vice President went from Minister of State to Minister of Justice, and the US military held extensive exercises on the island. Visits to Palau of high-level officials from around the world, the Minister of Environment from Germany, Ministers /Senators from Australia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs from Japan, the Vice President of Taiwan, US members of Congress visit, and the list continues.
Events were happening not only at home but regionally and internationally. 2022 seems to have been the year of the Pacific, so many activities and attention focused on the Pacific.
In all this hectic fleeting here and there, we continue to lose our young population to outmigration and have experienced an unsurpassed number of deaths in our recorded history.
We’ve also lost many prominent citizens, including one of our most active Senators, the late Regis Akitaya, and one of the pillars of our justice system, the late Chief Justice Arthur Ngirakelsong.
Entering into 2023, it is with sincere hope that things return to a moderate pace and that we can reset and starts on a healthier, more positive outlook for ourselves, our families, our communities, and our nation.(By: L.N. Reklai)