On May 2, Ambassador Armbruster and Information Assistant Erin Jacobs visited Waan Aelon in Majel (WAM) where staff are hard at work producing the first-ever U.S. Embassy Majuro “Coins.” These coins—styled after the “Challenge coins” used by many organizations, especially the military—will be given away by U.S. Embassy staff members as tokens of appreciation and goodwill.
Wanting a coin that reflects the uniqueness of the Marshall Islands, Ambassador Armbruster worked with WAM to design a wooden coin that includes a picture of a Marshallese stick chart, to honor and promote the amazing traditional navigational skills of the Marshallese. To make the coins, WAM staff members Linton Baso and Binton Daniel first prepare, slice, and stamp-out round pieces of wood, and then sand-down their edges. Next, a heated branding iron bearing the Embassy coin design is pressed into the wooden coins, imparting the design image. Finally, the imprinted coins are sealed and varnished and left to dry, one side at a time.
The finished products are shiny, attractive, and above all unique. So far, the Embassy has received very positive feedback from coin recipients, with some even asking if WAM can make coins for their organizations as well!
WAM is a local RMI NGO dedicated to working with young Marshallese men and women. WAM’s six-month long programs include training in life skills, English, Math, and traditional Marshallese skills such as wood-working, weaving, and sailing. According to WAM Assistant Director Kathy Hutton, graduates of the programs not only master new skills, but also gain self-confidence, all of which aid them in their future education and employment endeavors. WAM has two programs in the Marshall Islands: a program on Majuro that has been operating for over twenty years, and a new program on Ebeye that began in 2012.
U.S. Embassy Majuro wants to give a big “Kommol tata”—or thank you—to WAM for all of their hard work!
To see more photos of the coin making process, please visit the U.S. Embassy Majuro Facebook page here.