Rumi Forum's blog on Hizmet, Fethullah Gulen, peacebuilding, education and interfaith efforts.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Papa New Guinea Press covers Rumi Forum event

PNG female students doing well
A student attending Port Moresby’s PNG Paradise High School is one of the top assay writers in the world among her peer group.

Grade 11 student, Reebecca Tobena, has returned to the country with thrilling accolades after participating in an international essay contest in USA.

Her local school felt the achievement has indicated that PNG students have come of age to be among the best brains in the world.

She was participating in the recently held Youth Platform Award Ceremony held from April 4 to 8 in Washington DC.

The global competition was organised by the Gulen Institute, Rumi Forum, in cooperation with one of US’s prestigious universities – the Houston University.

Ms Tobena was invited by the forum for a four-day visit to US capital Washington DC, where she competed with 30 top essay writers in the world. All the expenses were paid for by the organisers.

Paradise High School principal Safak Deliismail said Tobena’s essay on “The Bougainville Civil War” was selected from a total of 600 essay entries from secondary students in 53 countries, and 35 states of the US.

Deliismail said students were asked by the organisers to respond to the topic “The use of military means as a solution to today’s international and national political issues: Diplomacy or war, democracy or military coup?”
Tobena’s entry on the bloody Bougainville conflict was selected, thus, enabling her to compete in the prestigious competition with the world’s top students.

“Leaders should spend more time listening to the basic issues that affect their people rather than talking just to defend their status in their nation. Leaders today should learn how to break barriers and stand up for what is right, even if there are a million doubts facing them,” an extract from her winning article read.

“When you become a great risk taker for your people you then become a great reliable leader. Francis Ona may have started the war but a lot of people recognised him as a man who fought for the little children who needed the perfect green playground, even if it meant to go against the nation of PNG,” Tobena continued.

Mr Deliismail said such exposures have put PNG on the world stage, adding it was a bonus for a third world country to have reached that far. He added such competitions will broaden their mind and shape them to be future leaders of this country.

“I realised that there is a fast growing world outside the globe but we don’t feel and see it in PNG. The world has changed beyond our imagination,” Tobena said of her American experience.

She said the highlight of her visit was her meeting with some top senators or congresswomen and congressmen like Ms Sheila Jackson Lee, Peter Roskam and Ted Poe.

The Gulf lass also met the Chair of the Political Science Department of the University of Houston Gregory Weiher and other dignitaries. She said for a kid in an unknown country to have competed against the best and meet US senators is an moment that will never be repeated in her entire life.

“You hardly meet these people in the US or anywhere else in the world unless you’re a president or prime minister. But for a child in a black country to have been with them is awesome and the experience has completely changed my life,” a proud Tobena said.

This is not the first time this young girl has travelled overseas representing her school. Last year Tobena travelled to Istanbul, Turkey, to compete in the Turkish Language Olympiads.

More than 750 students from 120 countries competed in that competition which is dubbed as the biggest in the world. There are different categories such as singing, reciting poem, drawing, special talent, cultural dance, etc.
This year, from June 15 to 30, two students from PNG Paradise High School will also attend the forum. The students selected for next month’s trip were Alberta Taligatus, Grade 11 and Amanda Daurobona, Grade 8.

The two girls were asked by the Turkish organizers to perform their traditional dances to the audience during the opening ceremony in Istanbul.