After years of anticipation, the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts in Guam got underway yesterday. While Guam has long been an enthusiastic participant in FestPac as it has made its way around the participating countries, most residents have only heard about the FestPac experience from those fortunate enough to have taken part.

This year, the Guam delegation is larger than ever, and Guam residents and visitors are able to share the excitement, and take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the cultures of the islanders with whom we share this Pacific region. FestPac delegates will have the chance to establish friendships with members of other delegations and, no doubt, old friends will meet up again.

While Guam residents are familiar with and interact with those in the Pacific islands north of the equator, there is much less interaction with the islanders in the South Pacific, due to political affiliation as well as the distances and expense of travel, and modern travel routes which make it more convenient to travel to Asia or North America. Most inter-island interaction is for purposes of sports and the arts – such as we are seeing now.

We continue to encourage members of the local community to welcome the visitors to our island and to learn more about them and their cultures and their arts. The visiting delegations have put much time and effort into preparing for FestPac and appreciating their efforts can only enhance the cooperation and sharing among all who are taking part.

We also welcome to Guam fellow members of the Pacific community who have come to take part in FestPac or to observe and enjoy the rich experience of the festival. We encourage them to meet the people of Guam and enjoy the local culture and arts - and especially the local hospitality. We trust that delegates and visitors will enjoy themselves, and two weeks or so from now will be recounting to friends and family the friendships they made, what they shared and learned, and what a rewarding experience they had at the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts in Guam.

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