February 27, 2023 | at the Academy of FISU Volunteer Leaders, FISU Student Ambassadors
The last cultural webinar of FISU Student Ambassadors and the FISU Academy of Volunteer Leaders (FVLA) was held on February 27 with the participation of Oceania. These sessions focus on sports, culture, history and people to provide attendees from 19 countries and five continents with additional insights into the regions of the world.
Two 2022 FISU student ambassadors, Jason Nel from New Zealand and Nicholas Mallia from Australia, helped lead the session where Nel opened the session with greetings and thanks for the land, while Mallia guided attendees through two fun quizzes about the region.
Donna Spethman, Secretary General of FISU Oceania, provided the background to the region, first showing the different ways of sending greetings across the region – from the iakwe in the Marshall Islands, to the talofa in Samoa and American Samoa, to the boule in Fiji or the kia ora in New Zealand. This gives an initial insight into the diversity of the region.
The distances between Oceania and other parts of the world are also highlighted. The flight time of around 18 hours from New York to Auckland or just over 17 hours from London to Perth indicates how far the countries of Oceania are from many other places on the planet.
Four regions of Oceania were then introduced. Australia and New Zealand (Aotearoa) went first. It is in Australia that their Indigenous and First Nations represent the oldest living culture in the world and include over 250 indigenous languages. New Zealand, a country of high biodiversity, has more than a third of its territory as protected land and sea areas. Also, the indigenous Maori language became an official language in New Zealand in 1987.
Next was Melanesia, a region consisting of a chain of archipelagos, islands, atolls and reefs. Papua New Guinea, the largest country in the region in terms of territory, has 850 languages ??spoken, making it the most linguistically diverse place on Earth. With many people in the region living in small towns and villages, local markets remain the preferred way to shop. The region is also home to more than 20 active volcanoes.
2,000 islands make up the Micronesia region, a region that was of strategic military importance, being home to Japanese and American forces around the world World War II. Strong Asian influences exist in this part of Oceania, given its proximity to Japan, Korea and China, making it a melting pot of culinary culture. Raw fish or poke is traditionally served in the region.
Polynesia means “many islands” in Greek, which made the Polynesians excellent shipbuilders and sailors, venturing as far as Chile. The International Date Line actually divides Polynesia in two and was adjusted in 2011 to improve and support trade and travel links with New Zealand and Australia.
This latest continental culture webinar highlighting the uniqueness of Oceania was the perfect way to end a series that has focused on all regions of the world over the past year.