Submitted by Katie Polus (Daughter of Mike andKris Polus, Gaylord)The cold winters of Gaylord, Michigan canmake anyone crave the experience of traveling abroad; particularly to somewhere a bit warmer. After graduating from Gaylord High School in2008, I attended Northern Michigan University tostudy Secondary Education and graduated in2012. I always hoped that my passion for teaching would take me somewhere new and exciting, andI found the perfect opportunity for teaching abroad with the Peace Corps. After applying and making it through the exten-sive application process, I was officially invited toserve in the Peace Corps in January of 2013 andset to leave for Micronesia on June 6, 2013. Thefirst big question I had to answer was, modestly,“Where in the world is Micronesia?” After thor-oughly researching the country online, I found outthe basic facts about where I would be living andteaching for the next two years. For those who may not be familiar with thearea, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is asmall country located in the Pacific Ocean, justabove the equator to the north of Australia andPapua New Guinea. The country is made up of aFederation of four states; Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae,and Yap. I am currently serving in the State of Chuuk on a small island called Satowan. For reference, the Federated States of Micronesia contains around 607 islands with a total land mass of 702 km2 (or271 sq mi), spread out over about 2,700km. The main island of Pohnpei isabout 200 miles away from the mainisland of the State of Chuuk, called Weno. My island is than another 200miles away the main island of Chuuk.The island of Satowan is about twomiles long and a half-mile wide at its widest point. Is the picture any clearer yet? When we talk about the world inmy classes we can’t even find our islandon most globes. The tiny coral atolls of the FSM are often forgotten in the larg-er scope of the world, but they are cer-tainly full of life and culture, and that is where I find myself teaching. I currently teach the EnglishLanguage classes to Kindergarten, 4th,5th, and 7th graders. Our elementary school holds all grades fromKindergarten to 8th grade and we havea total of about 90-100 students,approximately 10 per grade. We deal with some of the same challenges thatschools in the states do, such as class-room management, school community building and other administrative issues. We also, however,deal with many unique challengesfrom being such anisolated community.Our students arebright, full of energy,and ready to learn,but we often have lessthan adequate build-ings, a lack of sup-plies, and difficulties with finding the bal-ance between culturalpractices and the rou-tines of a schoolbased on an American model. The culture of theouter islands is still ina very transitionalphase. The introduc-tion of a money econ-omy and suppliesfrom the western world has made casha more powerful resource in a community thatused to rely solely on subsistence living. Thatbeing said, the outer islands still focus on fishing and making local food to provide for their fami-lies, and still participate in many cultural events,some being more focused on the Church now since the introduction of religion in the early 1900s. We often have conflicts over whether or notto have school on the days of a funeral because of cultural traditions, and sometimes struggle withfinding the balance between respecting the localtraditions and getting our students to the stan-dards of the new global world economy. My daily life as a Peace Corps Volunteer andteacher on a tiny outer island is full of obstaclesand challenges, but it is also full of memorableand truly cultural experiences that I will never for-get. Some days I wake up to find fresh bananas,cooked with delicious coconut cream and fish that was just caught the night before. I often walk intomy classroom to find students singing beautifullocal songs or playing a quick game of volleyballoutside before school. Many days I go for a swimon the dock and find myself surrounded by stu-dents, and other friends from the community. Ihave seen my fair share of beautiful sunsets, andalso enough wild island moments to fill my jour-nals with memorable anecdotes. The world of Micronesian culture is beautiful,exciting, new, challenging, frustrating, and alto-gether welcoming and accepting. I find myself learning new things about teaching and aboutmyself every day. I hope that after my service hereI will be able to teach people a little bit moreabout the tiny island nation of the FSM. It may behard to find on the map, but it is full of beautifulpeople and a wonderful culturethat should beremembered.
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Teaching in Micronesia
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1062 °F35 °F-14 °F15 °F0.76 in.8 in.1977200819921992
1164 °F 35 °F -6 °F 16 °F 1.11 in. 8 in.197319791990 1956
1265 °F 35 °F -27 °F 16 °F 0.6 in. 11 in.199019841988 1962
1366 °F 36 °F -5 °F 17 °F 0.51 in. 3 in.1995200420061988
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1574 °F 37 °F -10 °F 17 °F 1.41 in. 9 in.1990198019591959
1672 °F 37 °F -9 °F 18 °F 0.26 in. 3.5 in.2012199719891989
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