Okay, I have no idea who this munchkin is. I found his picture on the facebook group for WorldTeach Kosrae volunteers and I couldn’t help but post it. Come on, isn’t everything about this picture ADORABLE?
(I can’t wait…)
I leave the country in two months. I leave the country for a year in two months. It was just yesterday that the prospect of leaving the country to teach writing was simply that: a prospect. A far off, half-formed prospect lingering between commitment and illusion. But yesterday is yesterday and today is tomorrow and in the world of tomorrows time is a very real, very visceral force. In the world of tomorrows time smacks you in the face before flying by, much like the neck-snapping, hair-whipping downward descent on the world’s fastest roller coaster. But this ride doesn’t drop you safely off mere feet from where you boarded. This ride plops you off in another country, another continent, another world.
I leave the country in two months. I leave the country for a year in two months for Micronesia.
The word itself doesn’t register much response from friends and family, other than excitement based on the unknown or possibly the exotic appeal attached to its name. Breaking the news of my near-future endeavor to acquaintances has become a game to me. Over the past 6 months I’ve categorized the typical responses: there’s the blank stare, the throwing-up-of-the-hands in a “I have no idea where that is but, hey, I’m happy for you” gesture and, my favorite, the ” Ohhhh, yes, yes. Micronesia. Must be that small city in Indonesia!”
I leave the country in two months for Micronesia. If that alone doesn’t make you run for a map, I’ll gladly throw another wrench into the mix: I leave the country in two months for Kosrae, Micronesia. Now that I’ve inevitably shattered any sense of confidence in your world geography skills allow me to introduce you to this small slice of paradise (and I use “paradise” in the broadest sense of the word) that I will call home for the next 11 months.
Micronesia consists of 607 islands stretched across the Pacific Ocean just east of the Philippine Islands. The Federated States of Micronesia is comprised of the island groups of Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap and the single island of (drum roll…) Kosrae. Through the years, ownership of the islands has passed through the hands of Germany, Japan and, until recently, the good ol’ US of A. Although now considered an independent nation, Micronesia is still in a “free association” relationship with the U.S. and receives over $100 million annually from oh-so-generous Uncle Sam.
Whether by choice, force or complacency, Micronesia has managed to rise from the status of a flea-ridden yet satisfied and healthy rescue dog to that of a plump lap dog with all the airs of freedom and independence and yet who still looks to its distracted owner for its next meal (which usually consists of imported meat). Too harsh?
Kosrae is the most eastern state of Micronesia, located between Guam and the Hawaiian Islands. Considered one of the more traditional and untouched islands in Micronesia, Kosrae is home to a very gentle and religious people. Possibly due to the influx of Christian missionaries in the mid 1800’s, Kosraean life is much more conventional than that of its capital brother-state, Pohnpei.
My role in Kosrae will be that of a volunteer teacher at one or more of the public schools on the island. English is widely spoken and is considered to hold equal footing with the traditional language, Kosraean. I will teach English classes with a focus on essay writing. At the end of the school year, high school seniors will take a national exam to test into the College of Micronesia. So, yes, folks, I shall set out to save the world one comma splice lesson at a time ;).
So with great zeal/ fervor/ hesitation/anticipation I call Kosrae home for the 2012-2013 school year. I write while Kosrae is still a there and not yet a here in an attempt to remember this person, this state of mind, the fears and expectations, this naïve and untested person. I’m warned repeatedly, “Don’t hold any expectations- come empty of goals and illusions”.
I’ll do my best.
I also write to stabilize- a metaphorical digging your toes in the sand against the pull of the receding water. I’ve found myself among tomorrows, a world where time takes what once was a simple dream, half-formed, still in it’s ethereal, delicate state and shoves it fully formed and unrecognizable into your face. In the world of tomorrows you belong to tomorrow, along for the ride with its bumps and mind-numbing speeds.
I leave the country in two months for a year. I leave the country in two months for a year for Micronesia. I don’t pretend to have it all together at this point. I don’t pretend to have zero hesitations about tromping blindly onto an island denoted by a single dot on most maps. But I belong to tomorrow and I’m along for the ride and I have every intention of hunkering down and bracing myself for wherever it is you end up in this world of tomorrows ;).