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Mote works for the county health department as a translator and adviser.
He also acts as an emissary between the Marshallese in Enid – many of whom don’t speak English – and the rest of the city.
In effect, he’s become his community’s public representative.
By American standards, Enid is wholly ordinary: a quiet, sprawled city of single-story homes on grassy lots, with a modest stretch of shops and restaurants downtown.
He wore beige slacks, a red and white checked shirt, and wire-rimmed glasses.
Few of the elderly Marshallese in the city live into their 70s, according to Mote and other residents I spoke with.
Instead, they’re dying young – of diabetes, kidney failure and heart disease, illnesses they might have been able to manage under other circumstances.
There was no electricity, and when it rained, water came through chinks in the walls. He walked to school, several miles one way down the skinny island’s single road. When there was no food at home he climbed coconut trees. Years later, he would represent the Marshall Islands at the Micronesian Olympic Games, and ran on the 4×400 relay team that still holds his country’s record. military control of their territory, COFA allows citizens of the Marshall Islands (and of the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau; collectively they are known as the Freely Associated States) to move to the U. In Enid, there’s work in meat processing plants and at big box stores. S., Mote worked as a curator at a museum, traveling to outer islands to collect folktales.
Mote is 41 now, with a round face and a demeanor that shifts between earnestness and jest. is based on a treaty called the Compact of Free Association (COFA). His first job in Enid was at the circulation desk of the public library.