The answer is, not much! Our speaker, Melissa May, posed a few basic questions, and we all looked at our feet. Luckily, Melissa spent two years as a teacher in Micronesia as part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps program, and came to talk about her experience. Melissa was no stranger to volunteer work, having visited Mexico regularly since she was in fourth grade, but Micronesia was eye-opening.
 
 
Micronesia is a small group of islands East of the Phillippines. They have been inhabited for thousands of years, and the people were prodigious sailors and navigators, covering hundreds of miles of open water in outrigger craft. This is still a great source of cultural pride. The islands were occupied or settled by various European nations for the last 500 years, some quite brutally. After World War Two, these small states came under the control of the United States, and all Micronesians can travel to and from the U. S. without a passport. The economy is almost completely dependent on American financial support.
 
Melissa spoke movingly about their loss of identity and culture during these various occupations, and the conflict between wanting to retain traditional values and also embrace educational and modernization opportunities that would give them more options in life. As a teacher, Melissa walked this line carefully, getting to know the families as well as encouraging her students in a wide range of activities.  It sounds like it was a wonderful experience for her - and certainly wonderful for us to hear about!