All posts by jamaicaninchina

Life as we know it

Subject: SPECIAL Jamaican in China!–Life as we know it (a missive fi di massive)

From: walt@jamaicaninchina.com

Date: September 1, 2010 12:36:34 PM GMT+10:00

Dear friends,

I will make this brief.

This is a special email. It is being sent out of sequence to a select group of people to share with you what just happened on my second day in China (even though you haven’t received the first day’s chronicle yet), because the significance of what I’m about to share with you defies adequate description in words, and can not be overstated.

Life on the planet as we know it, has been irrevocably altered.

And, in the familiar Yin/Yang “good news-bad news”  construct:

First, the GOOD news:

Today, I found a VP2 style restaurant in Beijing!

For those of you who knew me in New York, you’ll recall the Chinese vegetarian restaurant, Vegetarian Paradise 3 (VP3), in New York’s Chinatown, which closed after Sept 11, and whose remaining sister location, VP2, is now thriving on West 4th Street in The Village close to New York University.

If so, you know what that restaurant represents to my life and gastric happiness, so you can already appreciate the earth-shattering, life-altering significance of what I’ve just shared with you.

The name of this restaurant is Tianchu Miaoxiang Vegetarian Restaurant (Chinese name: 天厨妙香素食(朝外店); found it on happycow.net). Out of courtesy to those who aren’t familiar, I won’t get into too much detail, but for those who know, it’s VP2 and then some! They’ve got a menu of about 20 pages, with all the mock meat, seaweed and veggie dishes we know and love, plus more stuff that exists here “at the source!”

menu

Sample of a page of the menu

The manager, Christina–as the only one on staff who speaks English–catered to me, explaining dishes, and making suggestions. (I think I’m in love.)

christine

Me and Christina

And finally, at the end of a sumptuous meal, which cost only 114RMB or about 16US, she refused to accept a tip–explaining Chinese culture and restaurant policy to me in the process. (A restaurant that won’t accept tips! Can life get any better than this?? Tell everyone you know: Heaven’s got a sign at the gate: “Cheapskates Welcome!“)

This in a city where everywhere I go, I’m besieged by friendly Chinese ladies who stare, smile, offer their numbers, and are making life quite pleasant. So, in any event, that’s the good news.

BAD news:

Now, the bad news.

um…today, I found a VP2 style restaurant in Beijing, China.

This means–my dear, sweet, close friends and family–you who’ve made my life special for all these years, and who mean the world to me–this means, you will likely never, ever, ever see me again.

Buh-bye.

whooooosh!

flap, flap, flap, flap, flap….

[the sound of a curtain fluttering in the breeze….]

Day 1. I think I’m going to like it here

Subject: Jamaican in China!–Day 1. I think I’m going to like it here

From: walt@jamaicaninchina.com

Date: September 1, 2010 1:29:00 PM GMT+10:00

on the flight from saipan
On the five-hour flight to China–the last charter flight leaving Saipan direct to Beijing

The minute I step of the plane, I get besieged by people who want to take their photo with me.

on the tarmac
Finally got some time to take a photo by myself

We hop on a bus to the terminal,

At the baggage-claim, I meet a mom and son who were returning from Saipan and exchange contact information. My first contacts in Beijing. I need a cell phone.

At the information counter, Jyang helps me contact the Embassy, we exchange email addresses, and she agrees to show me around Beijing once I get settled. Hmmm…I need a cell phone.

With the name of my destination written in Mandarin characters, I head down to street level, where I take a taxi to meet Les. I won’t show you the photo of the shiesty taxi driver who tried to charge me $70 US dollars for what should have been a $6US ride from the airport to the US Embassy where Les works.

Beijing buggy!

While on our way to get me a cell phone, we spot a young lady who happened to be walking with a pair of golf clubs, which gave Les an opportunity to strike up a conversation. Turns out–now get this–she’s Jamaican! Her name is Anna, and she says there’s about a 20-person community of Jamaicans here! I give her my email and she promises to connect and introduce me to the “massive!” (Jamaican slang for “a crowd of people!” I need a cell phone.

anna
Anna, one of the few other Jamaicans in Beijing!  Big up!
Les
Les bargains for a good deal for my new cell!

Ok. I got a cell phone.

So, now I’m set…I’ve already met a few contacts with whom I’ll need to share the new number for the Jamaican in China!

Yes, I think I’m going to like it here!

Les shows me around a bit more, then goes back to work, and I roam about town for a bit buying fruit and window shopping.

Last time I was in China, I had a few ok, but bland meals (prepared by chefs who I restricted to certain ingredients) and lived on cashews and raisins when I didn’t have a Chinese-speaking guide to instruct the chefs.  Similarly, when I want to Manila, I subsisted on lara bars and fruit for two weeks. (I didn’t find the vegetarian restaurant until the night before I left)

Tomorrow’s adventure: Finding a true vegan-friendly restaurant in Beijing!

Ah, well…everything happens for a reason

Subject:   Jamaican in China! –Oh, well…everything happens for a reason
From:      walt@jamaicaninchina.com
Date: August 30, 2010 10:48:21 AM GMT+10:00

So, if you read the previous installment, then I’m sure you’re wondering if my passport with my China visa came in sufficient time for me to leave for my trip….Well, first I’ll say that I’m a “go with the flow” type person, and when  things happen that would disappoint your average nomad, I look for the hidden benefit or guidance in the situation, and take it all in stride… With that said, to answer your question…

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YES!!!!…. GOT IT!!!

On Wednesday it was still in Pago Pago, American Samoa, then, it had to go back to Honolulu, then to Guam, then to its destination, Saipan!

And the reason it happened, I surmise, was simply to give me a little suspenseful story to tell! For those of you who followed my escape, return and subsequent re-escape from America in the book, Jamaican on Saipan, you’ll know that there’s ALWAYS some mlittle last-minute drama that “threatens” to derail the my adventures!

On the contrary, this trip to China had been amazingly seamless and smooth!

Once I realized I had a friend in Beijing, I found a Saipan-direct-to-Beijing ticket timed perfectly to fit my calendar, sold my car in less than 24 hours from the moment I decided to, etc. Yes, everything was easy as pie! Eerie. Then, my ticket ends up in Pago Pago, American Samoa! (Tell you the truth, I was actually quite relieved when the drama hit!)

As my friend, Stacey, commented on my American Samoa post:

“Another amazing piece of your journey!!  It would be unusual if something didn’t happen.  LOL! You know it will work out, Walt! It always does!”

And so it has!

Yes, fear not, erstwhile reader. As my good friend, Erroll Paden, used to say: “I ain’t goin’ out like that!”

So, even before my passport arrived in hand, I spent the last few days on the island of Saipan saying goodbye to key people, returning, donating, and giving away more items like my bicycle, trampoline*, my juicer (that was an emotional one), and finding a new home for my favorite plant (Thanks, Ashley!)

*Rule No 478 of the Nomadpreneur’s Handbook: No trampolines in the duffel bag.

Thursday Street Market, one last time….

Saipan Tribune editor, Jayvee Vallejera, my good email buddy for 225 consecutive weekly articles!  (an unbroken streak since April 2006!) Thanks for everything, Jayvee!

Angel and Lino at the Sabalu Market, my Saturday morning people-watching buddies. Hey, Mel!

Saturday night into Sunday morning I had a great time dancing at GIG with someone who shall remain nameless and faceless…

I’m scheduled for departure late, late, late on Sunday, so….by the time you read this……I’ll already be in China….unless, of course, um…something unforeseen happens!

(but, I think I’ve met the quota for this departure)
~~~~~~~~~^^^^~~~~~~~~~~~^^^^~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
With a whoosh and flutter of the cloak of night
This nomad departs, then is out of sight…
~~~~~~~~~^^^^~~~~~~~~~~~^^^^~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[cue the music: “See the World” by Gomez…..fade to silence]
#####

You sent my passport where????

Subject: Jamaican in China–You sent my passport where???? American Samoa????!

From: walt@saipanliving.com

Date: August 26, 2010 3:00:55 PM GMT+10:00

So, it’s Thursday, August 26. I’m scheduled to leave for China on Sunday night…August the 29th. For some mysterious reason, my passport hasn’t arrived yet, so I decided to check the USPS site to see if there is any information. Shouldn’t be an issue, I think to myself, I’ve received Express Mail packages from the states many times without delay.

So, anyway, I enter the tracking number, and lo, and behold…my passport is in American Samoa!

According to the usps.com site:

Your package has been missent, and every effort is being made
to get it to you as quickly as possible.
passport woes saipan


Missent, August 23, 2010, 1:39 pm

Missent, August 23, 2010, 5:51 am

Notice Left, August 23, 2010, 5:10 am, PAGO PAGO, AS 96799

Arrival at Post Office, August 23, 2010, 5:06 am, PAGO PAGO, AS 96799

Processed through Sort Facility, August 20, 2010, 10:22 am, HONOLULU, HI 96820

Processed through Sort Facility, August 19, 2010, 8:04 pm, KEARNY, NJ 07032

Electronic Shipping Info Received, August 17, 2010

So, just to put things into perspective, here: The flight I’m booked on is the last outgoing flight of a limited series of special charter flights direct from Saipan to Beijing. The ticket is non-refundable. There are no other flights to Beijing from Saipan. My car is sold. My apartment lease is up. My friend in Beijing is ready to pick me up as planned…. AND….someone in Pago, Pago has my passport and I need it in 2 days or else the whole trip is kaput! If it doesn’t arrive by 12 noon Saturday (the last day of mail delivery for the week), then I won’t be able to get it until the post office opens up for business at 9am Monday morning.

Ahhh, what would life be without a little suspense and drama?

Jamaican in China!–In the beginning!

NOTE: Each page of my China adventure that you will read is an actual email that I send to my mailing list. This was the first email I sent just before beginning my adventure, that I sent to a small list of friends, family and clients. Enjoy, and thanks for taking this journey with me!--Walt


Subject:   from Walt…drum roll, please
From: walt@saipanliving.com
Date: August 22, 2010 8:27:10 PM GMT+10:00
Hope all is well with you.

A little over four years ago, I wrote the first “Freedom Song” just prior to my escape from America and my move to Saipan. (If you weren’t on my friend’s list then, you can read it at Walt’s Escape from America!

walt fj goodridge on saipan escape from america jamaican on saipan

My move to Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, in 2006 ranks in the top 3 best decisions I’ve made in my life! I’ve never been happier with the climate, the culture, and the cuties! I’ve met many great people, wrote several books, started a tourism business, and felt that I was contributing through my weekly column in the Saipan Tribune, which is now in its 220th consecutive week.

One of my proudest moments was receiving an official CNMI Senate Resolution No. 15-54 in recognition of my contributions to Saipan, its residents and economy.

Ah, but it seems it’s that time again.

As I said during the original Freedom Song, “Ever since leaving corporate America in the fall of 1995, I’ve been executing a plan to create the lifestyle of a modern, minimalist, nomadic, passionpreneur based on a passive-residual income stream!” In other words, I want to be able to see the world and not have to worry about getting a job in the places I decide to reside.

Well, the nomad part is acting up again. So, with that said, I offer you, on August 22, 2010: (drum roll, please….)
FREEDOM SONG, PART II
My Freedom Song continues
with a new exciting verse
A life afar has beckoned
and I want to tell you first!
This nomad’s bell again has tolled
I answer and take wing
I’ve set my sights on China!
and the city of Beijing
The ticket’s bought, the visa’s done
I’ve got a place to rest
I’ve minimized and digitized
reduced all I possessed
They ask, “What will you do there?”
and, “What put you on this course?”
“A man named Lucas,” I reply*
“Just going to the source!”
I’ve learned the basic language
and I’ve made a friend or two
Just waiting for the date now
and the day I bid adieu
So, wish me well and please stay tuned
Me? Nervous? Nope. Well, kinda…
but you know me, I’ll prosper
in my brand new life in China!
(thought I wouldn’t find a rhyme for China, didn’t you?)
Walt

p.s. I visited China once before in 2009, and vowed to return (see jamaicaninChina.com download below). I leave in a week for Beijing, with plans this time to visit Shanghai, Hainan (a tropical island off the south coast of China), and other countries in the region including Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. If you have any friends or contacts in the region, please do put me in touch. It makes the experience much nicer for me.

p.p.s. My skype account is “waltonsaipan”

p.p.p.s *let me know if you need the “Lucas” reference explained. I’d be more than happy to!

Me and Buddha on a previous trip jamaican in china 2009 adventure ebook cover

Who is Walt?

The Short Version:


“Once upon a time, there was a Jamaican civil engineer living in New York who hated his job, followed his passion, started a sideline business publishing his own books, made enough money to quit his job, escaped the rat race, ran off to a tropical island in the South Pacific, and started a tourism business so he could give tours of the island to pretty girls every day….and live a nomadpreneur’s dream life.”


The Long Version:

Hi! My name is Walt F.J. Goodridge. Many years ago, after I graduated from Columbia University with my Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering, I was, like many people, destined for a career in my “chosen” profession. I say “chosen” because I wasn’t really the one who chose it. Like many people, I only ended up in engineering because my counselor in high school said I should do it, and being a good student, I listened.

So, immediately after graduation, I accepted a job in the Design Division of the Port Authority Engineering Department on the 73rd floor of World Trade Center One.

However, within the first fifteen minutes of my first job in corporate America, I realized, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I absolutely hated it! I saw the future, and the prospect of working a monotonous and restrictive nine-to-five job for the rest of my life, scared me to the core!

So, from that moment, I did everything I could to create the freedom I desperately wanted and to escape. But no one had ever asked me “what’s your passion?” or “What do you love to do?” I had to ask those questions of myself. While in college, I had been a radio deejay on WKCR-FM, and I loved music. So I went in the direction of that passion and first did some graphic design for an album, then became an artist manager, then record label owner, until, by a stroke of chance, I found my true calling for sharing information and wrote
Change the Game
. Through the success of that single book, I was able to match my civil engineering income, and walk away from my career to become a full-time “passionpreneur.” I then went on to write several more books on the music industry.


Based on the effectiveness of the information in my books, people asked me to consult them to start businesses and launch their own passionpreneurial ventures. In time, I developed my life’s mission (“I share what I know, so that others may grow!”) , and when the internet came along, I took that mission online, providing “information, inspiration and ideas to help people succeed” through my books, as well as my own brand of motivation I called “Life Rhymes. Every week, for nine years I sent my emails to tens of thousands of subscribers.

Over the course of that time, as I developed my experience and expertise in website development, internet marketing, and living true to my self, and helping others do the same, I launched dozens of websites, created more unique products and developed a unique “Passion Profit Philosophy and Formula” and a coaching and seminar practice as the “Passion Prophet.”

In 1999, I self-published the formula in my “how to” Turn Your Passion into Profit which, with yearly updates, has consistently sold in the top 50 in home-business books on Amazon.com. (They say that imitation is the best form of flattery. So, I consider myself flattered that several authors followed my lead with similarly-titled books of their own!)


(Also available as a six-CD audio.)



E s c a p e   F r o m   A m e r i c a        




But, as much as I felt fulfilled by helping others realize their dreams, we “Passion Prophets” have our own dreams, too! In 2006, through a friend who had visited and raved about his experience,I “discovered” the little-known US commonwealth island of Saipan for myself, booked a one-way ticket, and escaped from New York to begin living out my own nomadpreneur dream life on this Pacific island paradise.

J a m a i c a n   o n   S a i p a n



Once on the island, and wanting to be a part of the re-branding of Saipan’s image,
I launched the WeLoveSaipan.com website, then
20 additional sites
devoted to showing the world the often overlooked images and impressions of Saipan and the CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands).


I now write a weekly business column
for the Saipan Tribune entitled “The Saipanpreneur Project.”



I’ve written:



(1) Jamaican on Saipan!.

(2) Doing Business on Saipan to further encourage entrepreneurial activity on the island, and….


(3) Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin:
Diary of a Chinese Garment Factory Girl on Saipan
, co-authored with former garment factory worker Chun Yu Wang, and…



(4) Saipan Living! A comprehensive guide for moving to, finding a job,
working, living or vacationing in the Northern Mariana Islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota
.

I also co-founded Destination Saipan Marketing, Inc., a tourism company to help visitors experience the best of Saipan’s accommodations and activities.


One of my proudest moments came when was recognized by official CNMI Senate Resolution No. 15-54
for my contributions to Saipan, its residents and economy.

As you can tell from the title of my website, I’m originally from the beautiful island of Jamaica, and, you can read about my first year and impressions of life on a different island paradise in the book Jamaican on Saipan!

Over the course of the years since escaping from corporate America, I’ve written a total of 20 books, over 400 articles and almost 500 motivational poems,
and have dozens of websites that I manage!

But wait! There’s more!


J a m a i c a n   I n     C h i n a


Saipan was a great experience, but the urge to see more of the world keeps calling me! So, I set my sights on China! And you can now follow my adventures on my “Jamaican In China! blog”!




I    s h a r e    w h a t    I    k n o w ,    s o    t h a t
   o t h e r s    m a y     g r o w !    


Everything I do serves my purpose. The PassionProfit™ mix of products includes creations and guidance from my own journey discovering, developing and turning my own passion into profit, as well as the products of others who are doing the same. They contain “Information, inspiration and ideas to help you turn YOUR passion into profit!” Just the fact that a Filipina nurse created a children’s book based on her son’s school assignment, or a Chinese garment factory worker can write and share her experience with the world, (See “Best of Saipan” department) for example, represents an idea to inspire you to do something similar.

Everything, including my fun adventures in China, are offered to you to prove a point–to show that we can all make different choices–to show how and that it can be done, and encourage you to do the same.
Yes, freedom is achievable!

Even so, I’m always humbled by just how much impact my own fun adventures has on others:

“Hey Walt,
When I first heard your personal story of the experiences that led you to the path of the passion pursuit, I knew you were achieving what many people think is out of their reach. You made me see that achievement had never been out of the reach for me. After attending your seminar and purchasing your book, I knew that the passion within me could only be profitable once I decided to take the necessary steps to success. I saw you as someone I was able to connect with and it made me think, “If he can do it, so can I.” I am currently turning the passion I have of creating artwork, photography and dance to that next level. No longer are these just hobbies but a way of life that is invigorating, challenging and fulfilling. I feel a deeper connection to the purpose of this life path I am on. By focusing on this passion of creation, I am liberating myself from the limits of doing something I had no passion for. Getting Turn Your Passion into Profit was one of my first steps to acknowledging my own purpose, power and freedom. Thank you! And this comes straight from the heart because that is where passion truly lives. Peace and blessings!”
Nicole Woo, DC




Everything   You     Believe….    is    Wrong!


That was just a little about me. I share it with you simply to offer myself as an example. I can honestly, and proudly say that the reason I’ve been able to create the lifestyle of my dreams is because I dared to choose to believe things that were outside of the mainstream.

It started with my decision to become vegan. Once I started questioning the things that were fed to me (both figuratively and literally) while growing up, and once I started to see the differences in my body, my energy, my creativity and the incredible lightness of being that came from not eating meat, I realized that I had to continue the quest for truth in all other areas of my life.

I’ve come to the conclusion–quite bluntly–that everything we believe…is wrong. Everything we’ve been taught serves the purpose of keeping us powerless, keeping us dependent, misled, misguided, deteriorating and trapped on a treadmill….but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Read more about the strategy I use to create and maintain my freedom.
Here’s how I do it>>

MLK Day on Saipan: What a month!


Wow! It’s been a hectic few weeks!

mlk
First a little background:
In April 2006, CNMI Governor Benigno Fitial signed the bill enacting Martin Luther King Jr. Day as an official CNMI holiday to commence on January 15th, 2007 (You can see my coverage of this in Walt’s Escape from America (Opens in new window). In the past, there had been commemorations of MLK Day on island supported and hosted by private individuals and groups. Now, as an official holiday, this year’s commemoration took on particular significance. it was appropriate to do something more than in previous years. This excerpt from a letter sent out to local leaders and media explains:

Initial program plans include an open-to-the public “Rally, Reflection & Recognition” event with guest speakers, a keynote address, and a “Freedom March” centered in and around the American Memorial Park. Also featured will be the presentation of a “Young Freedom Fighters Award” to local student-winners of our school-wide MLK Essay/Speech Contest. Cynthia E. Nance’s selection as Keynote Speaker comports with the stated 2007 program theme, as the first woman and first black dean of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Law School and as a Professor of law.
To place Dean/Professor Nance’s accomplishments in perspective, it should be known that Arkansas is where Governor Orval Fabus, in 1957, in defiance of the orders of President Eisenhower to admit black students to Little Rock Central High School and in the face of the National Guard, and in the eyes of the world, vowed publicly that black and white children would never be allowed to attend school together in the State of Arkansas. Dean/Professor Nance, in the true spirit of Dr. King’s dream, has “over come” such entrenched barriers of racial discrimination in education and employment opportunities, and her professional and academic achievements serve as an inspiration to freedom loving people everywhere.

So things started back in December when the planning for the CNMI’s first official Martin Luther King Jr., Day kicked into high gear. The planning committee of the African American Cultural Preservation Committee (attorney Joe Hill, president) here on Saipan met every week and as the event closed in, we met every other day in the lobby of the World Resort Hotel.


After weeks of planning, the day finally came, and we met and welcomed Dean Nance at the airport at 1:00am Friday morning. With singer singing, ukulele playing, cameras snapping, the Dean was welcomed in style to the CNMI!

…and then we wait for luggage

With a full itinerary, the Dean was on her way to Rota that Friday morning, Tinian the next day and returned to Saipan on Sunday. The Tsunami (see Angelo’s account;opens in new window) delayed things a bit.

On Sunday, there was a reception in her honor at Judge Lizama’s residence.

Monday (MLK Day), found us all busy setting up the stage, moving tables and chairs, setting up sound systems and everything else one needs for an inaugural commemoration.

As organizer of the MLK Essay and Elocution contest, I was up at 5am reading essays, creating handouts for the judges, and then was off to Joe Hill’s office at 7:30 to make photocopies of all the entries. Along with Dorothea Bryant and Angie Wheat, we hosted and judged the elocution portion of the contest that morning.

Now I have to say something about the contest; something about the support and attitude of the students and teachers and committee members here in the CNMI. Of the many people who received the contest announcement, some as late as the day before the deadline, 12 schools’ principals and teachers chose to participate.

From those schools, 30 students chose to submit essays, 5 students chose to memorize speeches

Of those who received the announcement ON ROTA, 6 students chose to participate, and their principal found a way to get their essays hand delivered to us IN TIME!!

There are students, educators, even strangers who graciously chose to sit through the chaos of this our first event to support the children and the intention behind our efforts.

So, along with yours truly, there were 3 judges (Dorothea, Angie and Laura) who–all drafted at the last minute–chose to listen to and judge the speeches that morning, then chose to work tirelessly (without ANY complaint whatsoever) the entire day (missing the march, and portions of the ceremony, feeding themselves at their own expense) in order to diligently grade EVERY student’s written essay. (Thanks, ladies, for putting up with my spontaneous, last-minute chaos!)

Shots from the Official Commemoration!



Park Ranger Kelchmer (is that your official title?) prepares Dept of Public Safety Commissioner Rebecca Warfield to project the “look of authority” while retaining a woman’s mystique and grace

Note: the next several shots courtesy of Angelo Villagomez




Monday morning’s cleanup of Makaka Beach was a success. Participants from MOVER, MINA, RC&D, Rep. Kaipat, Rep Waki, and Mozell’s Boys picked up trash and bushcut our own tall grass. The Saipan Tribune covered this cleanup, which was part of the “Day on, not a day off” celebration of Martin Luther King Day. Over 30 people attended this cleanup


Official Master and Mistress of Ceremony, Ambrose Bennett and Shequita Bennett.


Gus Kaipat sings CNMI anthem.


The front row VIPs.


Joe Hill makes welcoming remarks


Ryan Ortizo wows the crowd with a stirring rendition of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a Dream” speech


Congresswoman Cinta Kaipat tells of the history and struggle of getting the day formalized in the CNMI


Senator Maria Pangelinan


VIPs on stage


Essay & Elocution contest winners from left to write: Audrey Jo Ada, Alice Tessen, Joan Liwanag, Raymark Denora (not present: Jo Micah Cabrera)
Check out the Winning Essays


Elocution contest winner (High School Division) Joan Liwanag


Elocution contest winner (Elementary School Division) Raymark Denora



And now, ladies and gentlemen, our keynote speaker…




[end of Angelo’s shots]

The evening was inspiring as well as entertaining, and was a great kickoff for what will be an annual tradition which will grow in attendance and participation….

Well done to all who stayed up late, got up early, donated their time, energy, ideas and passion to make this long-awaited day a reality here in the CNMI!


Special thanks again to Ranger Kelchmer for letting us use the office for grading the essays!

And even though this is a personal blog, I’d like to spread recognition of appreciation
by way of the following:

This Project was made possible by support from the Northern Mariana Islands Council for the Humanities, a non-profit, private corporation funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

(NOTE: check back to this post for links to videos, winning essays and even more photos!)

But wait! It’s not over yet!
Having made the 10,000-mile trip from NY to Saipan myself three times (that would be a total of 5 times across the Pacific) in less than 9 months, I know firsthand how it feels. I also felt that having come all this way, the Dean should at least get to see some of Saipan’s native beauty beyond the scheduled talks, official meetings and presentations that filled her schedule. So, I plotted a friendly “kidnapping.”

I arrived at Kagman Elementary school on Tuesday afternoon after the second of the official school meetings, managed to tick off fellow committee member Sam Joyner and a few teachers (sorry ladies, didn’t intend to offend anyone, but kidnapping’s a dirty job that wins few friends) and sort of pushed my agenda forward to add some down-time activities to the Dean’s stay!

It was about 3pm. With only a few hours of daylight left, and since we were in Kagman, I first took the Dean part of the way down the trail to Forbidden Island (um, don’t tell AAPC president Joe Hill, he’d have a fit!)





…then to Tank Beach

….then to Mount Tapochau


….she asked to stop by Judge Weiss’ place, so we did that for a few minutes…By then it was about 4:00pm, the daylight hours were dwindling, so the Judge graciously sent us on our way with his own recommendations on where to take the Dean.


….then I took her to a little-known trail to a secluded fishing spot (introduced to me by Captain Carlopens in new window) near Marpi Point just in time for a great view of a Saipan sunset! Man, that’s a steep trail! Kudos to the dean, who, ill-prepared for my kidnapping itinerary, and dressed in only sandals and with a toe she hurt earlier in the day, completed both the Forbidden island trail and the Marpi trail in fine style (i.e. alive to talk about it!)

….then to Banzaii Cliff

…then to Bird Island

…and on the way back, took a wrong turn and ended up at the Grotto. By then it was dark, so we didn’t get to see much. Within a few minutes one of Saipan’s Finest showed up (wonder if news of the kidnapping got out!). He asked if everything was alright. I told him I was fine, and that the Dean was treating me well. Or maybe he was asking HER…hmmm, …in any event, the Dean and the officer had a nice chat about the undersea world of Saipan’s diving spots while I wondered if he was secretly detaining us waiting for “backup” to take me down!!

No SWAT teams showed up, so I chauffeured Dean Nance back to the World Resort to meet with Joe.

My work here is done!

The next morning (Wednesday), driven to the airport by Rose Smith, the Dean and a few of us had a small farwell gathering…


Willie, Rose, Dean Nance, Joe, me (one of these days I’ll see Willie smile in a photograph, I just know it)

Dean Cynthia Nance shows her ticket to the gate agent, walks up the ramp, and heads home.

More to come!