We’ve been here almost two weeks, and if I had to describe this blessed island in two words, I would choose…”green” and “humid.” We’re either sticky and damp, or dripping and wet; those are the options here. Words like “dry” and “fresh” are things of the past. You step foot outside and you feel like you’ve just finished an intense cardio workout and then walk into a sauna…and never leave. Geckos on the walls, storing ALL food in the fridge to attempt to keep away any critters, recently washed towels that quickly smell of mold, using your skirt as a sweat rag, and brushing off ants from every surface…these are the new norm.
We feel like we’re living in a little tropical oasis, and have the kindest landlords that have given us full access to all the backyard fruit. Every child is adorable and we love hearing “hello!” from the windows and shops as we pass by each day.
We have been given many opportunities for our patience to be tested! The early communication we received and the expectations we’ve had for this program are quite different than our current reality. We were told we would be assisting the local teachers, possibly mentoring the students, streamlining the processes of bringing on future individuals and groups wanting to be a part of improving education in Micronesia, building an education program that could potentially be duplicated on other islands, and focusing on self-reliance principles. Once we arrived and to our surprise, we were told that WE were the teachers for the college prep students, and would be teaching math, science, and English to the high school students, as well as teaching kindergarten through second grade to the neighboring elementary school…with very few resources, limited wifi, no curriculum, or direction. So just like that, I teach four English courses to 9th -11th grade students. Yes, I went to school. No, I have not received any formal training in how to teach school. It’s been an adventure. I’m still getting used to being called Teacher Rachel or Miss.
We have also been anxiously awaiting any communication from our point of contact in Salt Lake City on what the expectations are for this program as well as their vision…honestly, any communication would be a real bonus. Seven of us are trying to work some serious magic based on our memories of our own schooling experiences. The one thing that makes it all seem possible is to just focus on simplicity!
I was about to start my second class of the day this morning, when a man in a shirt and tie came into my room and said he had been searching for me. He was the Seminary and Institute Director for Micronesia and Guam. Apparently word spreads quickly when seven Americans, who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are on an island, and are willing to help wherever needed. I have been asked to help train 10-12 local Seminary and Institute teachers. In a short time already, we have seen the potential we have to help build the Church and education on this little island.