By Rhealyn C. Pojas
Three high school students from Palau represented the country in an international youth summit at Dana Point, California which was participated by youths from different countries to talk about conservation efforts.
Olilai Chilton, a junior high school from Mindszenty High School in Koror, and Laden Kloulubak and Carlos Hans Rogelle Manuel, sophomores from the Palau Mission Academy (PMA)in Airai, just arrived in Palau on Tuesday night after attending a three-day summit on February 9 to 11 that basically teaches the youth about developing skills surrounding ocean conservation.
Throughout the event, the three representatives were able to participate in workshops and interact with other youths from 10 different countries.
“We were able to attend workshops that help[ed] us develop[ed] some skills that we needed to use to be able to really coordinate our activities as Heirs to Our Oceans…to be able to really reach out and learn how to reach out to the youth and adults and to be able to really try to help people change their habits [to make communities] plastic-free,” Chilton said in an interview with Island Times.
When asked what inspired them to advocate for ocean conservation and attend the international youth summit, the three shared that the country itself is their inspiration.
“We represented our country and do what we can, to learn what we can, to do what we can do,” Kloulubak shared.
Although they represented Palau, two of the youths had to personally shoulder their expenses for the event while the other one was sponsored by the Heirs to Our Oceans, a non-government organization dedicated in ocean conservation and addressing plastic pollutions.
Palau was one of the countries represented during the event along with Kenya, The Bahamas, Lebanon, Hawaii, United States, Cambodia, New Zealand and others.
“We were able to feel confident because we were speaking in a crowd of 160 some,” Chilton said, expressing further that they were inspired seeing younger people from other parts of the world who were really staunch advocates of ocean conservation.
“It’s just really inspiring to know that there are younger people around the world that are so sure and confident and so passionate about this current issue,” Chilton added.
Meanwhile, Manuel said that they will apply in Palau what they have learned in the U.S., adding that they will improve what they had already started here.
“We want to start more [Heirs to Our Oceans] chapters here because the more people [we have], the faster the work can be done,” Manuel shared.
Aside from that, the three also wanted to have more youth working with them to have bigger impact and influence and also campaign for people to reduce their plastic wastes or usage. [/restrict]