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Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Inhabitants of the Marshall Islands Fear Cultural Loss. One Michigander is Helping Out

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Image credit: Annamarie Sysling

Nik Willson, a metro Detroiter, is living and teaching in the Marshall Islands — and helping preserve the Marshallese language.

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The Marshall Islands are a ring-shaped collection of Pacific islands made of coral and sit about six feet above sea level. The nation has a storied history all its own, and the people who are native to the island have been there for about 2,000 years — to give some perspective, the people of Hawaii are believed to have first inhabited their islands about 800 years ago.

Annamarie Sysling
Annamarie Sysling

On Detroit Today, host Stephen Henderson talks to a Michigander who now calls the islands home.

As the rest of the world has become more connected through globalization and technology, the Marshalls have followed suit, partially due its unique history of colonization. But this has meant that the young people there are learning from American textbooks and are at risk of losing touch with their own indigenous language and culture.

Nik Willson teaches English on the Marshall Islands, and saw this loss of culture as an opportunity to help by creating a comprehensive Marshallese-English dictionary

Click on the player above to hear host Stephen Henderson interview Nik Wilson on preserving Marshallese culture.


Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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