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USP – Symbol of Effective Regionalism in the Pacific

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Graduate Speaker, Mr Joel Fangalasuu receives his certificate from Mr Winston Thompson, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of USP Council, during Emalus Campus Graduation

The University of the South Pacific (USP) is not just a product of regionalism, but evidence of the effectiveness of regionalism.”

This was the sentiment expressed by graduate speaker Mr Joel Fangalasuu, who graduated with a Bachelor of Law at the University’s Emalus Campus in Vanuatu on 30 November 2018.

Mr Fangalasuu highlighted that USP is a product of regional cooperation and it has so far been the single most successful regional organisation.

He added that nothing speaks louder of regionalism than graduation ceremonies at USP.

“Littered with faces, and personalities from every culture and corner of the region; from Cook Islands to Solomon Islands, from the Kingdom of Tonga, to the Republic of Kiribati. It is at USP that we witness the beauty of regionalism,” Mr Fangalasuu said.

However, Mr Fangalasuu noted that regionalism has not always been all fun and joy.

“Increasingly, the decisions made around the region are creating challenges for regionalism – a choir of countries, each singing their own song. The onslaught of the very nature of us islanders as people and our way of life, our identity, and our values for the sake of personal gain,” he stated.

The 22-year-old shared some approaches that could be taken by the Pacific Islanders to address this issue.

Firstly, he mentioned that people need to re-learn their identity as a region.

“We need to understand how this stems from our unique customs and traditions, which are communal in nature, and how the effective function of families, communities, societies and the region depend on it,” Mr Fangalasuu said.

Furthermore, he said that Pacific people need to always remind themselves of the commonality that they share as ‘one people in one region.’

“Not in abstract terms but in a clear manner, rooted in our customs and traditions, so that we do not forget or misunderstand the underlying spirit of who we are and why we exist as a region,” he added.

Mr Fangalasuu extended his special acknowledgement to the families of graduates, who he added have gone through a lot of hardship and sacrifices in order to pay University fees.

“Some families, have had to sacrifice comfort and certainty, to be able to afford their child’s education at USP. And that family members are here now, standing proud and waving a certificate of completion.”

“Without the confidence, trust and most importantly, prayers offered on our behalf, we may never have seen this day. On behalf of all who are graduating here, I say thank you tumas,” he said.

In addition, Mr Fangalasuu acknowledged the contribution and support of governments for their trust in students to complete the programmes they have endeavoured to complete.

“We can assure you that your investment in our education will translate into benefits for our families, communities and countries,” he said.

He also thanked the University Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Chandra, the Council and staff of USP, who, he added have “endeavoured to make our journey at USP, one that would shape our future with confidence and certainty.”

As the University celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year, Mr Fangalasuu urged graduates to find their place, and utilise the education and training they have received to strengthen this familial bond, and commonality that Pacific people have in one region.

“In whatever career or aspect of life, you engage in from, hereon, let us build our region; we are stronger together,” he said.

Affirming to his statement on regionality, he also challenged the University to not only become a celebration of mere existence, but of achievement of excellence, and fulfilment of a stronger region.

This news item was published on 4 Dec 2018 04:13:01 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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