A delegation of 12 state and technical agency representatives stopped by the University of Hawaii (UH) at Hilo on Sunday, January 27, 2023 to meet with young Palauans there. The delegation was visiting Hilo as part of a Palau-Hawai’i Zoning Learning Exchange from January 28 to February 3, 2023. 19 Palauan’s students attend UH Hilo.
The Palau Governors Association sponsored the meeting with students, which featured Hawaiian specialties. The meeting was organized by Alomar Kumangai, Student President of the Ngelekel Belau Club (NBC), with assistance from UH Hilo Counselor Andrew Polloi.
Governor Ilolang Remengesau, speaking on behalf of the Palau Governors Association, introduced the delegation and asked each state and technical representative to talk about projects and opportunities in Palau. The delegation highlighted a wealth of new opportunities, such as in tourism and business development, and discussed the creation of new jobs such as State Planners being created through master planning, land use, and zoning initiatives advanced through the Palau Biodiversity Project (GEF6). “Come home,” said Governor Remengesau, “we need you.”
Students each introduced themselves and shared their majors. The delegation was excited to hear that many students are interested in starting businesses in Palau, and that many students are gaining specialized skills in veterinary science, chemistry, and kinesiology. Students shared many of their concerns about moving home, citing perceptions of low pay and lack of opportunity as their main fears. “Look,” said one student, “my skillset is too expensive for Palau. And I think the system is flawed.”
Students expressed their frustration over not knowing how to access opportunities in Palau, and asked for more targeted information about job opportunities and more assistance in applying for jobs before they return home. The delegation shared information about job boards and employers, promised to bring their concerns home, and asked them to evolve their mindframe: “There are lots of opportunities,” they said, “but we also need to create new opportunities.”