Easter Island and Its Mysteries
A’PO — THE RAPA NUI
YOUTH INVOLVEMENT PROGRAM
A goldmine for research, preservation efforts, and publication opportunities, in the last century Rapa Nui has hosted dozens of archaeological investigations organized and executed by teams from institutions and universities from all over the world. Thor Heyerdahl, in his fascinating Kon-Tiki voyage, opened minds and doors around the globe for international efforts in Rapa Nui. Millions of dollars have been invested by foreigners to execute large-scale surveys, ship hi-tech equipment for research to the island, and to reconstruct archaeological sites for tourists. These teams come and go, but all too often the island and its inhabitants receive little in return for providing the opportunity of a lifetime for archaeologists and tourists around the world.
With 20,000 tourists visiting the island each year, Rapa Nui faces great problems in preserving the past while at the same time preparing for the future. The Rapa Nui Youth Involvement Program was created to help the island face these problems with adequate resources.
The goals of this program are threefold:
1. To train local high school students in archaeology in hopes that someday the island will have sufficient means, from an archaeological perspective, to determine the future of their rich cultural heritage without pressure or persuasion of foreign entities.
2. To use archaeology as a foundation through which local youths can learn valuable field skills and computer programs that can be applied to all fields of interest.
3. To document thoroughly and present those remnants of the past that still exist on the island today.
While the program was initiated with a strong focus in archaeology, efforts are underway to include training for local high school students in a variety of scientific disciplines.