My Teaching Adventures in Chuuk, Micronesia (FSM) by Rosezina Bard, Current WorldTeach Micronesia (Chuuk) Volunteer
My name is Rosezina and I am a 67 year old retiree who made a decision in 2014 to get off the couch and use the life experiences and training I have gathered over the years to teach overseas. After working 30 years for the US Postal Service, five years as an Elementary Teacher, one year teaching Junior High in Taiwan, and teaching 38 years as a Sunday School teacher, I felt I had something I could offer to a program that needed committed teachers. Since I was 16 years old, I have always wanted to be a teacher. My sons were grown and had their own families. My four grandchildren were either out of school or in school full time. Now “Granny Rose” could do what she had always wanted to do, immerse herself in another culture. I could finally utilize the dual teaching certificates I have accumulated over the years and renewed in 2014. I am ready, willing, and able to go where the door opens. After applying for a volunteer teaching position with WorldTeach and a few changes along the way, I was sent in August 2015 to teach in Weno, Chuuk. Chuuk is a tropical island in the Caroline Islands with unique and challenging issues.
I was sent to Chuuk to teach 9th Grade English Grammar and Literature at Chuuk High School. I found the students to be intelligent but hampered by their lack of proficiency in English speaking, reading, and writing. In grades 1-8 their Elementary experience had the subjects being taught in Chuukese, yet they were expected to jump into high school curriculum being taught in English. It took the students and me about a month to finally begin to relate to each other. We found common ground in which to pursue to learn together how best to learn English grammar and literature. This made for some humorous situations while trying to communicate, but we persevered. I can honestly say today we have bonded and respect each other. We work well together.
In September 2015, the Chuuk High School Administration asked me to help develop and implement a K-5 Preschool and Kindergarten program in English. This pilot program was important in insuring that the Early Childhood Educational subjects were taught in English at the lowest level possible to improve English language learning and help students take advantages of educational opportunities in the future. While also giving the students the tools to compete for scholarships and grants available to study abroad. The prospects are limited to find work or many opportunities to improve living conditions on Chuuk itself.
What initially brought me to volunteer with WorldTeach was their commitment to send teachers to undeveloped areas to make the best impact to improve educational opportunities to the students/children. I had an interest in learning how to teach English as a second language and to immerse myself in another culture. I am currently taking online couses with Bethany Global University in Minnesota to pursue my Masters Degree in Cross-Cultural Relations. My main goal is to become a Missionary teacher.
One fun fact about me that nobody would guess, is that I used to be very shy and introverted. I would stutter and get sick to my stomach if I had to give a presentation or speech in front of a group. Another fun fact is that I love tacos. Every time I leave the U. S. to live abroad, I must find a taco place when I return to celebrate coming home.
Although the Chuukese people are slow to accept strangers in their close relationships or village living, I found myself accepted quickly because of my teaching with the K-5 program. The mothers were very protective of their young ones but they gave me their confidence and support each and every day. I believe they trusted my experience and training as a teacher, a mother, and a grandmother.
In retrospect, I wish I had known I was going to be teaching K-5 or Elementary education. I had so many resources at my house from my Elementary teaching experience. In Chuuk, the other teachers and myself had little to no resources or supplies. Chuuk High school did not have us in their budget and expenses, so we had to find our own supplies and make our own handouts and worksheets daily. It was not until February 2016 that we finally received some foam puzzles, crayons, and construction paper. My supplies and resources in the U.S. were packed away in the house, but i could not access them. The best thing to help us was the purchase of a copier machine in January to eliminate writing by hand all the worksheets daily.
Anyone interested in a WorldTeach program should ask themselves what can I bring to the program? Not what the program can do for me? The need is great for these students to have someone put them first. They face so many challenges and problems daily. They need caring and supportive teachers. The teaching has its rewards, and there are fun things to do, but the volunteers should know they must entertain themselves. They will need to find a hobby or task that gives them pleasure to take up the vast amount of free time on the weekend and evenings. I found ebooks, online movies, music, quilting, and church activities to be very relaxing. Other teachers found snorkeling, diving lessons, swimming, sailing, and boating to another island. Volunteering at the Children’s library, visiting the sick at the hospital, teaching Children’s church, and attending Bible study and prayer meeting gave me a rich and full life in Chuuk.