CDS Projects

Photo: Students at Ka Pilina Math camp

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Cross-Cultural Education Program In Micronesian / Deaf Cultures (CC-EPICM-DC)

Project Overview

This demonstration project supports the refinement and replication of the Cross-Cultural Education Program in Indian/Deaf Culture (CC-EPIC) model developed by the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities, in Minot, North Dakota. Its purpose was to develop a validated model for teaching students with disabilities and others about Micronesia and its cultural heritage; and to support further development and testing of a model that: a) provides opportunities for students with disabilities who are members of minority cultures, to learn about their cultural heritage; b) enables minority children who are not Deaf to learn about Deaf culture and ASL; c) provides an experiential model in which students in an inclusive setting can learn about different cultures; and d) provides motivation and confidence-building opportunities for students with disabilities.

During the course of three years, POI staff members attended two multi-site organizational meetings in Minot, North Dakota to plan activities, report progress, and conduct the business of the project. In 2001 an overview of the EPIC project was presented at the Pacific Rim 2001 Conference. At the 2002 conference, the culminating theatre arts program of "Island Spirits, Island Life" was performed at Pacific Rim Conference on Disabilities. Four stories, three dances and songs were also performed in community and public school settings.

Expert teams were identified which include community members regarded as experts and leaders in Micronesian culture and traditions, experts in sign language and Deaf culture and community theater representatives. A series of “Expert Team” meetings were held to plan, develop and evaluate program content, cultural competence, teaching styles and student performance to assure that CC-EPICM DC replication is relevant and attainable. Research on Micronesian culture was carried out in Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae and the Marshall Islands. In addition to learning dramatic arts skills and appreciation for Pacific Islander theatre, dance and song, the CC-EPIC/MD project was designed to provide motivation and confidence-building opportunities for students with disabilities, Micronesian and deaf students to be more successful and active in school and in the community.

The project provided opportunities for Hawaii public school students to learn more about the rich and unique aspects of Micronesian and deaf cultures and helped enable participating students to learn about more deaf culture and American Sign Language. It also enabled Micronesian students who are not deaf to learn about deaf culture and ASL. Micronesian students with disabilities were also provided opportunities to learn more about their cultural heritage and better their ASL communication skills. The project provided opportunities for students to demonstrate what theyíve learned through the medium of theatre, song and dance; in community theatre performances which foster students appreciation and respect for cultural diversity.


“Island Spirits, Island Life:” In the Classroom: A Study Guide for classroom teachers available on PDF format. DVD-ROM include an e-version of the study guide including: Fast Facts about Micronesia; three community performances, highlights of rehearsals and highlights of a costume-making workshop.

The study guide is designed for classroom teachers and others interested to learn more about life and practices in Micronesia and deaf cultures, highlights culturally practical guides and strategies for effectively working with Micronesian youth from Chuuk and Marshall Islands living in Hawai‘i.

Team Members
  • Dotty Kelly Pacific Outreach Initiative Team Leader, Center on Disability Studies
  • Sophie Esah, Micronesian Parent and Cultural Specialist
  • Susan Miller, Project and Community Outreach Coordinator
  • Daniel Kelin II, Education Director Honolulu Theatre for Youth
  • Dr. Ymao Akitakit, Rev. Sekap Esah, Krispin Hengio, Thomas Lokot, Rieko Rikat, Carmen
  • Suda, Chuukese and Marshallese Cultural and Dance leaders
Project Funding
Funding Agency: 
U.S. Office of Special Education Programs