Marshallese Youth Conscientization & Bwebwenato


Grantee: Pacific Islander Community Association
Timeframe: April 2024 – March 2025 | Amount: $29,970


This program involves an academic-community partnership led by Dr. Robin Narruhn, the principal investigator, alongside the Washington State Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Pacific Islander Community Association (PICA). The role of WSPSR is to offer expertise in policymaking and nuclear disarmament, while PICA provides support in outreach, content, advocacy, and fiscal sponsorship.

Research conducted within the Marshallese community in Washington State has shed light on the obstacles faced by Marshallese individuals in accessing healthcare. Structural challenges such as colonialism, racism, and poverty, compounded by the suppression of historical trauma stemming from nuclear testing during 1946-1958, have contributed to a sense of disconnection and illness among Marshallese youth. The program aims to address these issues by nurturing a strong sense of community, faith, and cultural resilience, undoing internalized oppression, and fostering critical consciousness among the youth.

The program’s core curriculum draws from Freire’s Theory of conscientization, aiming to deepen participants’ understanding of societal contradictions and empower them to take action against oppressive elements. Through a trauma-informed lens, participants will engage in storytelling sessions known as bwebwenato, teaching critical skills like policymaking, power mapping, and advocacy. The program’s impact extends beyond immediate outcomes, aiming to influence policy-making, increase access to culturally relevant programming, and empower youth across various regions and states.

The 10- 14 week program comprises three modules focusing on critical reflection, motivation, and action, designed to guide participants in navigating systemic change and advocating for health equity within their community. Financial support will be allocated for participant stipends, coordination efforts, curriculum development, and research activities.

Resource/Input Overview:

  1. Partnership with PICA: Coordinate sessions, outreach, venue provision.
    • Output: 10 summer sessions for 10 Marshallese youth.
    • Outcomes: Increased civic engagement, belongingness.
    • Impact: Enhanced advocacy capacity, educational outcomes.
  2. Partnership with WSPSR: Policy advocacy sessions, expert consultation.
    • Output: Summer 2024 policy activities for Marshallese youth.
    • Outcomes: Enhanced advocacy, health equity.
    • Impact: Influence policymaking, relevant legislation.
  3. Content Experts and Consultants: Curriculum facilitation.
    • Output: Summer sessions on conscientization, advocacy.
    • Outcomes: Improved skills, life opportunities.
    • Impact: Increased educational, civic engagement, employment prospects.
  4. Researchers (P.I. and co-investigator): Research design, implementation, dissemination.
    • Output: Pilot programming for replication.
    • Outcomes: Research implementation, dissemination.
    • Impact: Increased access to culturally relevant programming.


About Our Grantee

Pacific Islander Community Association

PICA’s mission is to establish a cultural home, center community power, and further the wellness of Pasifika communities. Their vision is for Pasifika communities to thrive physically, culturally, socially, and spiritually.

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