People First, Then Programs, People!

Our SRS point of contact came for a weekend. He had a different agenda than we had hoped for and even recommended he have. Before his arrival, a few of us suggested to each other to have zero expectations in order to prevent us from feeling let down, again. Well, as much as we tried to avoid feeling let down, we did not succeed. I really wish there was a way to turn off the caring button in life sometimes. When I’m being taken advantage of/disrespected, I’d love to flip on the “can’t care” switch and not have it affect me. While we’re grateful we did get 4 whole hours of his time during his visit, we did our very best to express again, the realities of our situation, our concerns and recommendations for the project in Chuuk and its future. While we feel as though we’re 0 for 6 months for being heard while using all forms of communication available to us, many of us now feel as though no matter what information we share, our point of contact is going to continue running a one-man show on his own, without fully taking into account the months we have spent living in Chuuk. No, we’re actually not looking for Mount Everest-sized miracles and results with our students, we’re just asking you to care and communicate…two things one would hope any leader would be skilled at.

Words of wisdom through an analogy: if you’re determined to take a car out for a test drive while it’s still being built, please take the time to consult with and actually listen to a mechanic, especially when there’s a good chance some vital car parts have yet to be repaired or even installed. If you decide to take it out for a spin, regardless of the council you’ve received about it not being ready, you’re on your own when it breaks down. Or, if you decide to change your mind mid test drive and determine you want to build an airplane instead, please pass the word along to all those who are waiting on the side of the road for the ride you promised. While you may be cruising down the road alone, this sure does not mean you built the car. Just because you’ve driven a car in one country, does not mean all the same rules apply in another country. Fun fact, some cars have steering wheels on the other side of the car and even drive on the other side of the road. Whatever you do, don’t try and sell a car that you’ve barely seen and haven’t even had the chance to be fully inspected. Please don’t abandon the car on the side of the road for car parts to be stolen. People have put a lot of work into building this car; maybe it needs a little more time in the repair shop. If you decide to not even test drive the car during your scheduled appointment, please, just let those who have set up your visit know. If you do show up, and show up way late, don’t tell the mechanic how to do his job. #commoncourtesy

Programs are in place to help people – who I believe are the purpose, the focus. If you’re not going to take into consideration the people in the mix, you may want to re-think your strategy. Don’t be involved in a program just to say you’re involved in something good. Spend time with the people on the ground – those running the program and those benefiting from the program. If you’re sitting in your fancy office, disconnected from the heart of your program, please re-check your motives and intentions. You have an open invitation to step outside your day-to-day comforts and get first-hand knowledge of what is going on in the field. Never be too busy for your people.

A pet peeve of mine is when programs and processes don’t work; are there just to say they’re there and in reality are filling no purpose; or have a very obvious purpose and are fully dysfunctional. There’s a reason I studied organizational leadership. There’s a reason I’m drawn toward humanitarian work. Being halted from doing what I was made to do in a place that could greatly benefit = my tipping point. I think one of the biggest frustrations has been and will continue to be that most, if not all our time, efforts, energy, communication and findings will have been for nothing if SRS does not build upon our 10 months of research in Chuuk. We are legitimately the experts here, but the “experts” have their own plan. #wecantcareanymore

In other news, Chuuk High’s track and field day was a major success! Each grade and section were assigned a specific color. Representatives from each color ran in each race. Cheering on my students while they raced made me love them even more! I greatly value the one-on-one relationship I have with each of my 91 students.

Every event that happens in Chuuk (church or school) feels like a miracle once it happens! All events in Chuuk are guaranteed to start late (1-2 hours seems to be the norm); no one really takes ownership to start, lead, or end an event; logistics are not even a thing to be discussed beforehand, even when you ask many questions. If you do get an answer, it will be what they think you want to hear, even if it’s not the real answer. You learn to wait, a lot, in the sun. We’ve learned: always carry a frisbee, a book, food, water, sunscreen, a phone charger, your laptop, money, a change of clothes, a basketball, tennis shoes, WAF gear, $1 for ice cream, $1 for an emergency taxi ride, hand sanitizer, kleenex, baby powder, bandaids…aka our backpacks have turned into Mary Poppins bags that we basically have on us at all times. You just never know when you’ll be waiting for hours OR you decide to bail (after waiting hours) and must be ready for whatever comes next.

In class, 3 are quiet and 1 is sassy, but they sure can run!
Siniann in orange, 9A
Myca in blue, 10A
Jayme in blue, 10A
Aston in white, 10B

Valentine’s Day was also a fun-filled day in Chuuk! At school, students were encouraged to wear red and pink. For a country that has no dating culture, there is one thing you can’t stop no matter where you are – high school crushes!

The festive 9A crew. It was their idea to pull down the projector screen for a backdrop.

At church, the Yaingeluo family planned, decorated and hosted an epic Valentine’s dance for the youth. The girls spent hours planning and preparing and did an incredible job! I was asked to take pictures at the photo booth, which was a huge hit! I have a couple hundred pictures, as do each of their Facebook pages full of selfies to prove it. For many of the kids, it was their first dance and they went all out! DJ J-osh, DJ A-man, and DJ Loni killed it.

The Yaingeluo Family



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