Naga American Foundation holds 2018 Conference


Dimapur, July 25: The Naga American Foundation (NAF) held its 2018 conference on July 13 and 14 in Santa Clara, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley. The conference, which was the 16th gathering organized by the NAF, was hosted by San Francisco Bay Area Nagas at Santa Clara First Baptist Church. Around 100 individuals from across the United States attended the conference, which was one that echoed the spirit of Silicon Valley by celebrating themes of innovation, creativity, and possibilities in the Naga American community.
Dr. Paulus Pimomo, professor of English at Central Washington University, and Dr. Sylvia Pongener, of Bolingbrook, Illinois, delivered the keynote talks. Dr. Pimomo spoke about his childhood communitarian education in a Naga village, something he described as “a sound foundation for people interested in growing into well-adjusted individuals among others in any society.” He also referred to the importance of lifelong learning as equipment for navigating different perspectives and cultures.
Dr. Pongener, a former board member of the NAF, talked about Naga hospitality and how it remains a common, and important, representation of Nagas living abroad.
Speakers also included Dr. Vic Nienu, an early Naga pioneer in the San Francisco Bay Area, who gave a welcome address to begin the conference, as well as Stephen Imsong, a manufacturing engineer from Boston, Massachusetts, who talked about a solo motorcycle trip that he took across the US last year. Recalling that many Naga families hosted him during his trip, Imsong spoke about the distinct “Naga warmth” that was afforded to him during his travels.
The conference included a cultural show featuring traditional dances, musical performances, and a martial arts demonstration, and culminated in a video presentation produced by Rev. Dr. Wungreiso Valui, senior pastor of Santa Clara First Baptist Church, entitled “Gospel Coming Full Circle.”
Rev. Valui, who along with his wife, Family Life Pastor Margareth Valui, leads one of the largest American Baptist congregations in the Bay Area, told the story of Nagas’ introduction to the Gospel and their subsequent spreading and growth in many countries around the world. “The vibrant, skilled, and educated youth at NAF 2018 is the story of a bright future in America,” Rev. Valui said. “We are the fruits of the labor of God’s work.”
The NAF board announced that its next conference will be held in Edison, New Jersey in 2020, and will be hosted by the family of Rev. Dr. Louis Meren Ao, senior pastor of Stelton Baptist Church.
NAF President Honili Sema thanked the hosts for working tirelessly to make the conference possible, and also thanked the attendees, many of whom had traveled from out of state to attend.
“As Nagas in the United States continue to flourish, so we also continue to grow collectively,” she said. “It is our connectedness to each other that is our greatest strength.” (Page News Service)