HONOLULU- Two soldiers from the 9th Mission Support Command’s Task Force Oceania conducted a virtual civil engagement with student volunteers from UmaAmerika at the Universidade Nacional Timor Lorosa’e in Timor-Leste as part of a celebration for Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage month.
Maj. Melvin Cabebe and Sgt. Joshua Fale, members of Task Force Oceania’s Timor-Leste Pacific Augmentation Team, shared stories about their experiences in the U.S. military and spoke about their Filipino and Pacific Island heritages respectively.
“I was actually born in the Philippines, grew up in the Philippines and then my family immigrated when I was about five or six years old.” said Cabebe, “I decided to join [the military] because I wanted to also help other people and make a difference, not just in my local community but also around the world.”
UmaAmerika is an American Space, devoted to the open exchange of information between the U.S. and Timor-Leste. UmaAmerika serves as a space where young Timorese and the local public can access information about the United States and its culture, access educational exchange opportunities, learn English, and hold open dialogues on social issues.
“This is a time that we share our culture with people and this is a time where we learn from each other,” said Cabebe, “What makes it difficult now is because of COVID we don’t do it in person, but many events are still being shared virtually.”
The Soldiers of Task Force Oceania are trained in Army Civil Affairs operations, consisting of a multitude of tasks with emphasis on engaging the civilian population within the Soldiers' area of operation. Oceania is one of the largest and most diverse regions of the world. Task Force Oceania Soldiers, with their Civil Affairs training and with many of them having origins in the Pacific islands, like Maj. Cabebe and Sgt. Fale, are especially well-suited to engage and collaborate with the peoples of the Pacific.