U.N.E.S.C.O. and the government of China hosted an international youth forum for the belt and road initiative last week.
More than 40 young people from around the world gathered in Changsha and Nanjing to preserve or promote creativity and heritage in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
Among them were Xavier Muao Breed and Fale Lesa grew up in Auckland and were the only one’s attending from the Pacific region.
Xavier is a Masters of Dance Studies student at the University of Auckland, writing a thesis on ‘How might creative process/choreography empower cultural understanding and change within cross cultural contexts’ and is a practicing freelance choreographer with a focus on Pacific contemporary dance which captured the attention of the organisers.
Fale was a returning alumni invited back to speak at Nanjing University, one of the oldest universities in the world. As a diplomat, he has visited over 100 countries.
China’s one belt one road scheme is seven times bigger than the Marshall Plan by the United States.
New Zealand was the first developed country to join the project and Samoa is considered a model for the Pacific.
Coincidentally, Polynesian migration began in southern China thousands of years ago. Xavier and Fale enjoyed seeing evidence of indigenous Chinese people with Polynesian features. They were able to share the Samoan language, dance, costume, and song with a global audience.
“The music and dancing is used the same way in China, as it is in Samoa, to share stories and pass them onto the next generation,” Xavier said.
Fale on the other hand said said: “As the geopolitical ground changes, China is increasingly visible. I credit U.N.E.S.C.O. for building bridges rather than walls.”
Both young men vow to continue their efforts in heritage and thank Samoans everywhere for preserving our strong culture and identity.
Xavier hails from the villages of Falelatai and Lotofaga, Aleipata. Fale is from Sa’anapu, Sapapalii, and Salesatele Falealili.