History of the Peace Corps in Micronesia

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The Peace Corps program in Micronesia began in 1966. At the program’s peak size in 1968, 700 Volunteers were assigned to Micronesia, which included the Republic of Palau, FSM, Northern Mariana Islands, and the Marshall Islands. The first group of Volunteers taught English at all educational levels, and a cadre of Volunteer legal advisors soon followed. The Volunteer legal advisors assisted the then U.S. trust territory in its quest for independence. In the 1970s, the Peace Corps moved into agriculture, health, community development, and cooperative management projects. The early 1980s saw Volunteers working in water and sanitation, forestry, and fisheries.

The formation of FSM in 1986 resulted in a reassessment of Peace Corps programming, and Volunteer activities were consolidated. Dual assignments were developed, and all Volunteers taught English in primary schools and also worked in other activities specified by their sponsoring state government agency. In the 1990s, the programming strategy moved from state-specific to national projects. Concurrently, programming shifted from being focused on English as a second language to projects in a wide range of technical areas, such as library development, health education, sports development, youth group development, marine resource management, environmental education, watershed management, and small business development.

From 2000–06, Volunteers worked in two main project areas: natural resources conservation and development and youth and community development. Volunteers continued to work in the areas of youth, health, library/reading and technology, marine resources conservation and terrestrial resources conservation. There was also an increased emphasis on cross-sector collaboration between different agencies to respond to social and environmental issues.

Recently, Peace Corps met with more than 80 representatives from the education, environment and health sectors to determine how and where Volunteers could best serve FSM and Palau. As a result, in 2006, Volunteers returned to the classroom to teach English as a second language (TESL) and to work with communities to facilitate environmental education, health education, and community development programs. This project addresses needs in all four FSM states (Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Yap State) and the Republic of Palau.

History and Future of Peace Corps Programming in Micronesia[edit]

Today, Peace Corps Volunteers work in either the TESL or education for community development projects. While there are 18 local languages spoken across FSM and Palau, English is the language of government, education, and many professional settings. Lack of English ability is seen as a key factor in a 66 percent drop in enrollment between elementary school and high school and in very low entrance exam scores at the College of Micronesia. In a broader sense, stakeholders note systemic educational challenges with instructional planning, teaching skills, assessment practices, and school-parent communication—areas in which Volunteers also contribute.

To support English instruction and address systemic education issues in a sustainable manner, Volunteers work very closely with the local school staff and leadership as peer observers, demonstration teachers, co-planners, team teachers, and facilitators of informal exchanges.

In addition to Volunteer work at the school, Volunteers are capable and well positioned to support community development and service learning projects, especially as they relate to priorities in health education, environmental education, and youth development. Therefore, the design of the project plan addresses an urgent need for English, while also encouraging Volunteers to work with local community groups and agencies on other community issues.

Micronesia is at a dynamic point in its development history, and Peace Corps/Micronesia is working closely with FSM/Palau leadership to ensure that the Peace Corps program best assists Micronesians in their efforts to become independent and self-reliant.

Assignment History[edit]

Sector Assignment Beg. Yr End. Yr
Agriculture Ag Economics 1981 1981
Ag Education 1981 1985
Ag Extension 1979 2006
Animal Husband 1982 1985
Animal Husband Lg 1979 1984
Apiculture 1980 1980
Crop Extension 1964 1999
Fisheries Marine 1984 1996
Business Accounting 1981 1985
Business Advising 1980 2005
Business Development 1994 1999
Cooperatives 1981 1988
NGO Advising 1998 1998
Crisis Corps Crisis Corps 1990 2003
Education Art Education 1982 1984
Bus. Ed/Sectl Skl 1992 1992
English Teacher 1967 2007
English Teacher Trainer 1967 1998
Fisheries Fresh 1984 1998
Gen. Construction 1972 1983
Industrial Arts 1971 1980
Literacy Ed. 1992 1996
Math Teacher Trainer 1994 1994
Phys. Ed/Youth Wk 1981 1982
Prim-Ed/Teach Trn 1981 2007
Science Teacher Trainer 1994 1994
Secondary-Ed Sci. 1968 1968
Special Ed/Deaf 1991 1991
Special Ed/Gen. 1981 1982
Voc. Trainer 1970 1992
Environment Comm Forestry Ext 1991 1991
Environmental Ed. 1999 2006
Forestry 1979 2004
Protected Areas Management 2003 2006
Health Envir. and Water Resource 1973 2006
Health Degreed 1981 2005
Health Extension 1981 2007
Home Econ/Ext. 1981 1990
Hygiene Ed/Sanitation 1983 1985
Med. Technician 1979 1985
Nursing 1981 1981
Other Unique Skill 1978 2001
UNV United Nations Volunteer 1975 2000
Youth and Community Development Appropriate Tech. 1981 1983
Commun. Serv/Deg. 1980 2007
Road Const/Engin. 1982 1984
Rural Youth Dev. 1977 1987
Youth Development 1997 2007