Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea: U.S. Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray made her first visit to Enga Province last week to meet with educators, students, health care workers, and political and civil society leaders.
The capstone event of her trip was the launch of the Enga Cultural Education Program at Wabag Primary School. American anthropologist, Dr. Polly Wiessner, was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of this ground-breaking effort to introduce cultural education into Papua New Guinea’s modern education system. Dr. Wiessner has dedicated more than three decades to the preservation of Engan traditions. Almost 2,000 teachers gathered to celebrate the launch.
In her remarks, Ambassador Ebert-Gray said, “This innovative program will help to preserve the vital cultural principles – the wisdom of your ancestors – which are so important to pass on from generation to generation, and which might otherwise be threatened with extinction.” She also acknowledged the contributions of the many U.S. anthropologists, like Dr. Wiessner, and missionaries who have enhanced the lives of people living in remote parts of Papua New Guinea.
Ambassador Ebert-Gray met with a number of Engan officials, including the Hon. Governor Peter Ipatas, Provincial Administrator Samson Amean, and Provincial Police Commander George Kakas. She also met with non-governmental organizations, schools, hospitals and businesses who are working collaboratively with local communities to improve the quality of life in Enga. A number of officials commented positively on the long-standing involvement of U.S. missionaries who have supported the education of many Engans.
In her discussions the Ambassador emphasized the United States commitment to education, women’s empowerment and ending gender-based violence in the Pacific.