WorldTeach volunteer Mike Hilbert spent his past year teaching in Pohnpei, Micronesia. To say he has fallen in love with the people, culture, and environment of Pohnpei is an understatement. Take a look at his heartfelt goodbye to Micronesia, and discover the lasting impact that volunteering with WorldTeach can provide. Mike, we are so glad you made the most of your experience; thanks for being an incredible volunteer!
I’m sitting in Pohnpei International Airport on June 12th 2012, about to board a plane that will eventually take me back to the ‘real world’. It’s not exactly where I thought I’d be eight years ago today, or even two years ago, but it’s where I find myself now. Goodbye was hard. Harder than I thought it would be. My last month here was filled with well wishes, promises to meet again, pleas to stay, tears, gifts, celebrations, kind words, new and potent emotions, and love…lots of love. I love this place. I love these people. I love my friends and most of all I love my family. My family became my best friends and their home became my home. Pohnpei is home for me…or at least it was. Much moreso than Arizona or Pennsylvania. I called AZ home for only a few weeks and I left PA over a year ago. I left those places to explore the world and myself, to do good things and to have a positive impact on the education and economy of Pohnpei. In those, I like to think I succeeded. But at what cost? The process of saying goodbye was more painful than I ever thought it could be…so much so that I have reconsidered doing something like this again. It’s hard to express the emotions, but I hope that in time and with distance, I’ll adjust and normalize.
I’ve said this before but I’ll restate: This has been the best year of my life. I know I said that six months ago, but the last six months were just as good, if in a different way, such that I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Thank you Pohnpei and everyone thereon. I love you. I miss you. I pray that someday we’ll meet again.