What’s the possibility that small island societies like FSM and the Marshalls can grow their economy enough to make their countries self-supporting? That’s a question that many of us have been debating for years. It’s a question that haunts the leaders of these countries as they move closer to the end of the Compact funding in 2023.
Max Yarawamai’s story is that of an island boy who made good. Today he owns a landscaping company on the Big Island of Hawaii that employs over 200 people and has big projects underway all over the state. Despite his success, he has not lost contact with his own people. Max, born in Ulithi, has set up clinics on his own atoll and has built a park that provides basketball, volleyball and other freetime activities for other migrants.
The move to Honolulu didn’t come easily for Lukunor-born Innocenta Sound. She was uprooted suddenly to care for her father, the former lieutenant governor of Chuuk, when he went on dialysis in Hawaii. The former policewoman became a social activist even as she began full-time work with fellow migrants in a low-income neighborhood of the city. She lives out the ideal of islanders taking care of their own.
Lowery Lowery, born in Kosrae, had an interest in security from the outset. After graduating from PATS, he joined the US Marines and served in Iraq. Later he became a key figure in a local security company in Hawaii. Like so many other community leaders, he has been asked to play a key role in helping his fellow migrants. Besides serving as a lay leader in his church, he has been asked to preside at community events.
Many knew Alice Ehmes back in the islands, when she worked for the College of Micronesia and then served with the National Government. The competent administrator then is still the same, but now she is working for the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. You’ll see her at the computer tending her website, advising women applying for jobs, and on her favorite means of transportation.
There’s more than enough room in a family for two or even three cultures, as Serpian Yaliweisei’s story shows. The boy from Ifaluk who once thought he might be a navigator ended up as the quality control manager for a large heavy equipment company in the outskirts of Dallas. His family redefines the term cultural melting pot; there is room for both Mexican and Micronesian music and dance. Read More
Salem, Oregon, is just a few miles south of Portland–one of the largest concentrations of Micronesians in the mainland US. The grandfather of the Pohnpeian community there is Castro Mudong, the former police chief on Pohnpei before moving to the US to serve for years in the Portland area. Because of his seniority Castro presides at events like the softball tournament held there last summer. Read More
Asinech Hellan Pangelinan
Here’s Asinech Hellan Pangelinan at work as an optometrist in Phoenix and at home with her young child. She made the move to the US when she finished high school in Chuuk and remained there ever since. She may have left, but a good part of her remains in the islands, as you’ll see from the charity work she does and the songs she sings. Read More