SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Marshallese storytelling event will be featured at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10 at Sonora Middle School in Springdale.

Grandma Shine will share two traditional Marshallese stories from the Marshall Islands to educate students on Marshallese oral storytelling traditions and culture, said Chelsea Jennings, Sonora Middle School principal. The event will be held in the school library to emphasize oral storytelling’s connection to language arts and literacy.

Shine Bolkeim was born on Jaluit Marshall Islands and has a close-knit family of nine children and 30 grandchildren, said Stephanie Andi Takamaru, Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese project manager.

“She is affectionately called ‘Bubu, Grandma, Shine’ amongst the younger generation, related or not,” Takamaru said. Shine has been “a pillar in the Marshallese community” since moving to the United States in 2013, she said.

“Shine has been determined to help preserve the Marshallese traditions and cultures by getting involved with the community whenever she is needed, whether it’s by storytelling or teaching the younger generation about the importance of preserving our heritage,” Takamaru said. “The NWA Marshallese community is blessed to have Bubu Shine and will have her legacy for future generations to reflect on.”

The event serves as an opportunity for Sonora Middle School to partner with the Marshallese community in educating students, Jennings said.

“The Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese, who recommended Grandma Shine, has been a great resource and support for us as we seek ways to honor and celebrate the Marshallese community we serve,” she said.

May is also Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Jennings said.

“Twenty-seven percent of our student population is Pacific Islander,” she said. “This event helps us to recognize and appreciate their rich heritage and culture.” 

About 50 fifth- and sixth-graders will participate in the event. Jennings said, some of whom may opt to dress in traditional Marshallese clothing. The storytelling will be captioned in English and shared in the future so others can view the event and use it as a learning opportunity, she said.

“We want to encourage collaboration with our Marshallese community members, organizations and leaders to continue offering educational experiences and cultural connections for our students,” Jennings said.