Marshall Islands Year

For the adaptive, dedicated, and resilient, a unique challenge and opportunity.

Departure: Late July 2019

Application Deadline: May 1, 2019

Volunteer Commitment: $500 Deposit

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Our Year Program in the Marshall Islands

11 Months (July – June) |
Shared Volunteer Housing or Host Family
Teach English, Language Arts, Science, Math

WorldTeach, in partnership with the Marshall Islands Public School System, has been providing volunteer teaching opportunities in the urban centers and remote outer islands of the Marshall Islands since 2002. UNICEF reports educational levels in the Marshall Islands are among the lowest of the 14 Pacific nations. The government demonstrates serious effort to tackle the considerable and numerous educational challenges facing this tiny island nation. Part of that effort includes funding WorldTeach volunteer positions in order to have native speakers teach English in their primary, middle, and secondary schools. We have seen considerable academic progress on students’ High School Entrance exams as a result of our volunteer initiative. Recently, new national curricula and standards were adopted by the Ministry as part of a vigorous attempt at educational reform. Come take part in this positive educational trend!

Country Overview

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is a unique island nation located in the central Pacific Ocean, home to incredibly warm and welcoming people known for their exceptional hospitality and strong sense of community. In addition to its five individual islands, the country’s truly remarkable geography is found in its 29 low-lying coral atolls, rings of tiny islands enclosing blue-green lagoons and coral reefs abounding with ocean life. Initially inhabited by the daring open-ocean navigators in their traditional outrigger canoes, the RMI is a country rooted in its culture and traditions while it also finds itself adapting to present-day challenges. The intermingling of tradition versus modernity is stark, creating two distinct environments in this country: the commercialized urban centers, Majuro and Ebeye, as well as the rest of the atolls, or outer islands, where life is carried out in rustic ways.

Your Role

You will teach English in either the urban centers or on the remote atolls across the vast Pacific Ocean. Marshallese is the native language of the RMI, but English is now commonly spoken throughout the islands and increasingly becoming more important for job opportunities. In 2001, the country created an education policy that mandated English be the primary language of instruction starting from Grade 1. After a lack of positive results this policy was reverted back in 2015 to accommodate more Marshallese instruction in early grade levels. The implementation of this change has been slow and difficult due to the fact that virtually all their curriculum is in English.

While primary education is compulsory for Grades 1-8, as of 2014, only 80 percent of children aged from five to nine are enrolled in school; 92 percent of children between the ages of 10-14 are in school, and only 38 percent of youth 15 to 24 are in school.

In addition to English instruction, WorldTeach volunteers can take advantage of teaching math and science as well.

One significant challenge you should be prepared for is that schools on the outer islands lack basic supplies. Volunteers often purchase pens, paper, and markers before arrival to the country. Besides a shortage of supplies, you will notice that your students come to school with a wide range of English skills. These circumstances may be frustrating at first, but our volunteers, with support from WorldTeach staff and the schools, have been adept at finding solutions that enable them to teach effectively. Despite limited resources on the islands, our volunteers have demonstrated ingenuity and success. We are eager to see the change and hope you bring to your community!

Placement & Housing

The Marshall Islands program can be seen as two distinct programs packaged in one experience. All volunteers teach English, math or science in public schools around the country. The volunteer experience deeply depends on placement. An urban placement in Majuro, the capital atoll, or Ebeye, an island that serves as a U.S. military base, is defined by the city and its resources. An outer island placement is defined by the confines of the island and all that is lacking. WorldTeach only places you on an outer island if you request a remote placement.

In an urban placement, you live in basic teacher housing in close proximity to the school. You have access to supermarkets, internet, telephones and other modern conveniences, and have the resources to cook for yourself. In school, your classes tend to be larger and more academically advanced.

The outer islands are an entirely different story. Pristine and remote, these placements are in small communities living on atolls that have remained largely untouched by modernity. Life here is beautiful, but nonetheless, challenging. Internet and telephones are largely the stuff of dreams, and necessities, as basic as water, can be hard to come by. Food consists of fish from the lagoon and certain local fruit grown on the island. As a volunteer, you live with a host family who provides you with a doorway into the complex and tight social structures that govern these communities. Social codes, norms, and behaviors are subtle but dictate daily life and personal interactions. In schools themselves, classes are smaller, usually not as advanced, and school supplies are limited. We highly recommend the outer islands for the adventurous, resilient, and adaptive individuals; a uniquely memorable experience for those who plunge into it.

Finances

The volunteer contribution to the Marshall Islands program is a $500 deposit, submitted upon confirmation into the program and returned upon successful completion. Selected candidates for participation in this program are funded by Public School System of the Marshall Islands.

This generous funding goes towards:
  • Housing
  • Living stipend*
  • Pre-departure preparation and visa assistance if necessary
  • Supplemental overseas travel medical insurance
  • Comprehensive orientation, mid-service, and end of service training conferences
  • 24-hour in-country field staff support
  • Access to a remote teacher quality support
  • Alumni services and networking
    *Variation in stipend based on cost of living between main island and outer island placements.

Volunteers also are able to successfully fundraise all or a significant portion of their program expenses. Please refer to our fundraising page for more information about fundraising possibilities.

Requirements

Volunteers in the Marshall Islands program must:
  • Be a native-level English speaker
  • Have a bachelor’s degree by the time of the program’s departure
  • Be between the ages of 21 and 74
  • Have an extreme level of flexibility and coping ability, maturity, and a genuine interest in teaching