The meeting of Catholic educators on Pohnpei last week was like a postponed class reunion. The bonhomie and eagerness to share with one another was very much in the air. It had been three years since the last meeting of the Catholic school administrators, and the diocesan association that once linked them had been dissolved. It was at their request that the Catholic Schools Administrators Conference was held, with the 19 participants representing not just Xavier High School, Mindszenty High School and the other schools in the Caroline Islands, but the schools in the Marshalls as well.
“Here are your favorite enemies,” someone said before the photo above was snapped. Right he was. The two are my favorite duelists: Tony DeBrum and Peter Christian. One of them is a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for the work he has done on calling attention to climate change in this part of the world. The other is a former student who is now President of FSM. Both sharpened their debating skills at Xavier High School a few decades ago, and have practiced on me over the years.
Excuse me for weighing in on a matter that concerns Chuukese, not foreigners like me. Although I lived in Chuuk happily for 25 years, I am under no illusion that my skin color has changed and my passport has been mysteriously transformed from US to FSM-issued.
Yet, over the past several weeks a number of Chuukese friends have asked for my opinion on an issue that seems to be commanding the attention of the whole FSM. So let me carry on my long tradition of wading into the fray and saying something about the issue. Always, of course, in the hope that what I say will help clarify issues and so enable those with a vote on the issue to resolve this matter for themselves. Read More
When I was in Milan, Minnesota, visiting the Chuukese community there a couple of months ago, I heard one single complaint repeated again and again by the Americans looking out for their guests. Many of the young Chuukese would often skip school. Not just the older ones who might have had more interesting things to do, but the small kids as well.
Why won’t the children go to school? When I asked the question of the parents, I would simply get a shrug or shake of the head. If I pursued the point, they might admit that the kids felt uncomfortable in class. Why is that? Maybe because their kids couldn’t answer the questions the way other students could and they just felt stupid. Sometimes their kids couldn’t even understand the question. Read More
As a fellow of East-West Center, I was given the opportunity to give talks–and do so much more–for two weeks in Honolulu and on the Big Island in mid-March. It all began with five presentations to classes in Ethnic Studies and Pacific Island Studies at the University of Hawaii. Why the ethic bias against Micronesians in Hawaii these days? How were Japanese migrants to Micronesia treated before the war? Read More
Victor Levine, an education consultant with lots of experience in the Pacific and beyond, has done a study of the Chuuk education system and published a long article for the East-West Center entitled “Education in Pacific Island States.” Victor and I are planning to collaborate on a new project aimed at developing a set of objective indicators that can be used to track improvements in the education system in that part of the northern Pacific that we still call Micronesia. The point of it all is to Read More
Below are just a few thoughts prompted by the Xavier graduation on May 31. I jumped at the chance to attend because it was a homecoming for me. My introduction to Micronesia was through the prism of this high school in 1963, fifty years ago, when I began a three-year teaching stint at Xavier. Read More