Tag Archives: Micronesia

Micronesia, Language and Globalization — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By James Merle

Micronesian_Cultural_Area

Micronesia, Language and Globalization — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By James Merle

One of the most challenging aspects about teaching abroad is the language barrier. I have had to adapt lessons to students who I know going in will only understand a handful of words I say. Much effort goes in to selecting the type of language I will use to explain things I never thought I would need to explain.

Due to a lack of resources, I have been trying to teach geography to my lower level Social Studies classes from a book written for young Americans. There are no English textbooks written from the perspective of a Pacific Islander available to our school. This is challenging because the geography of the United States is far different from that in Chuuk. Chuukese have no concept of seasons because the only season here is summer. The only way I could explain snow was by asking if anyone has looked at their freezer when the frost builds up. What!? That stuff falls from the sky?

One way to draw students into participating, I have found, is to use their local language. At the beginning of the year, two of my classes of thirty students knew as much English as I knew Chuukese, and while they have made progress, we still struggle to understand each other.

Language has challenged Chuukese culture throughout its history. The Germans bought the islands from Spain in 1899, who colonized Micronesia back in the 16th century. The Japanese occupied the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) from 1914–1945, claiming the islands after World War I. After World War II the United Nations declared Micronesia a Trust Territory, in which the United States would serve as the Security Trustee of the area. The FSM has been under a compact of free association with the U.S. since 1986.

These changes of global powers occupying the area have meant a change in language each time. While few elders speak English, they are well-versed in Japanese. I once had a student write to me saying, why should I come and learn English when nobody else in my family speaks it? If I speak it too much, then maybe I will forget my native language and not even be able to talk to them.

For the Chuukese, the local language binds them together despite the constant flux of outside influences.
Map from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micronesia#mediaviewer/File:Micronesian_Cultural_Area.png


Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to contribute to The North Star Project Reports — HLIANG@CSS.EDU

For all of the North Star Project Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/

The North Star Project Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also welcome Duluth East High School, Duluth Denfeld High School, Dodge Middle School and other schools around the world to the North Star Project. The North Star Project has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2014/embracing-oa-universities-adopt-open-access-policies-for-faculty-journal-publications

The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Student interns have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star Project students and teachers.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2013-present The Middle Ground Journal. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Twenty-Nine — Food in Micronesia, by James Merle

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Twenty-Nine — Food in Micronesia, by James Merle

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If you ask Chuukese what their favorite foods are, they will say
“local food.”

Around the island there are dozens of small stands or markets that
sell freshly picked bananas, limes, cucumbers, eggplant, coconuts,
mangoes, breadfruit, local beans, and  papayas (to name a few), and
freshly caught reef fish, tuna, and lobster. Since coconuts are 50
cents, I often grab a few in the morning before school to drink during
the day.

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The fish markets are located along the ocean in the downtown area.
The fish are kept in large coolers filled with ice. The stalls have
sometimes three or four coolers with different types of beautiful and
colorful “iik enoch” or ‘fish of the reef’ in them. Reef fish are
smaller fish caught in the lagoon.  The Chuukese word for Tuna is
“angarap,” and I have grown accustomed to eating sashimi, or raw fish.
Another interesting anecdote,  the Chuukese love to barbique fish, and
their word for barbique is “parpikiu.”

In order for one to eat fish here, one must know how to fillet a
fish. This can sometimes be a dirty process, but the payoff makes it
worth the hastle.

20130824_134133 20130824_134031

In addition to the markets, there are several grocery stores that
sell just about the same things as stores in the United States, though
products from the United States are far more expensive: a box of
cereal is 7 dollars, and instant coffee is 9 dollars for a medium
sized jar. Stores are structured the same, and everyone uses the
American dollar.

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There are five “restaurants” on the island that have similar food and
prices to restaurants in the United States, but you can buy a small
container of prepared food for $1.50 from some of the markets. These
usually consist of a small turkey leg or turkey tail, rice, and a
hotdog. One shop that I particularly like sells these meat and
vegetable pies called asado rolls.

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In Chuukese culture, some people borrow eating customs from the
Japanese, since the Japanese once occupied the are prior to World War
II. Chuukese generally eat with their hands, and they have a specific
order that family members are allowed to serve themselves food.
Sometimes the oldest man of the house eats first, sometimes the
youngest. The women prepare the meals, and clean up after.

———-
For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/
For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10

The North Star Project 2013-2014 School Year Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We gratefully acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also warmly welcome Duluth East High School and Dodge Middle School to the North Star Project.

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2014/embracing-oa-universities-adopt-open-access-policies-for-faculty-journal-publications

Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world.  We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year

(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Twenty-Six — Ruuwuw by James Merle

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Twenty-Six — Ruuwuw by James Merle

james 2

My stay in Chuuk has been unique to say the least. Each day can bring challenges and complications that you may not have ever imagined could happen: a typhoon might blow in some nasty wind and rain, cancelling school, or a volunteer might have decided to abandon ship and return home.  Funerals are an enormous cultural events in Chuuk. Because families are so large, when someone dies anywhere around the world, the casket is shipped back to the home island, and there are lavish commemoration ceremonies. When this happens, large families of students are absent for up to an entire week from school.

While the weather in Chuuk is that of an envisioned paradise, and there are coconut trees, geckos, delicious local foods like taro, bananas, mango, and papaya, life on Chuuk is sometimes dangerous. At night, male alcohol abuse can sometimes lead to children and women being beaten.  Dogs also become territorial at night; and some of the voluteers have been bitten by them.

My island is almost like a mini-America inhabited by Micronesians; most things from America can be found here, though they are expensive: American cereal costs five to seven dollars for a box, and anything packaged is three to four times more expensive than  in the US. There are super markets and cars, and there is electricity and an airport. Chuuk also uses the US Postal Service, the US dollar, and has declared it’s official language as English.  Many of the Western influences, though, have been negative. There is no recycling on the island, and all trash is either incinerated or left on the ground. Litter is also a large problem on Weno, and it along with sewage run through the streets of “downtown” and into the ocean. Japanese and American cars that have broken down sit on the owner’s compound overgrown with vines and rust. I even saw an Audi 6 outside the laundromat the other day and my eyes widened.

james 22

Despite the challenges that face Chuuk, I have met people working to help and change. I have been voluteering at a children’s library near my host family’s compound on Wednesdays, and I would like to start an after school program partnering with the Chuuk Women’s Council to raise awareness and educate young men about alcoholism. The introduction of a new culture has confused gender roles and values among the Chuukese. I sometimes feel mixed up in a huge culture clash, but each day brings a new adventure, and I love what I get to do. The title of my second post is “ruuwuw”, which is Chuukese for two.

———-
For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/
For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10

The North Star Project 2013-2014 School Year Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We gratefully acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also warmly welcome Duluth East High School and Dodge Middle School to the North Star Project.

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2014/embracing-oa-universities-adopt-open-access-policies-for-faculty-journal-publications

Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world.  We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year

(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Ten — Teaching in Chuuk, Micronesia, by James Merle

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Ten — Teaching in Chuuk, Micronesia, by James Merle

Post one

I arrived in Chuuk, one of the four states that make up the South Pacific country of Micronesia, at around 1:00 pm on July 15th, 2013. The island that I will call home for the next ten months goes by the name Weno, but it is pronounced like “wee-tah.” The island is about 10 square miles with three large mountains, one of which I have climbed with a local boy, Junior, who brought a long machete with him to hack away at the jungle that was trying to swallow us.

james 1

My writing will focus on my experiences as a WorldTeach volunteer. I teach 11th grade Sociology at one of the three high schools on the island, and I also co-teach a guitar and ukulele after school course, and I am one of the Student Council facilitators. While the island is small, it is crowded. 1400 students alone attend Chuuk High School. I will paint as best a portrait as I can of what it is like living here with my descriptions and pictures.

james 2

Being a young teacher in a foreign country has been extremely challenging at times. My students have a wide range of academic skills ranging from those who are considering attending college in the US, to those who only speak a handful of English words. Our school currently lacks the resources to provide students with everything they need, but it is in the midst of reform. New qualifications for teachers are helping Chuuk to better uphold certain educational standards, and the United States also provides funding to each of the four states of Micronesia: Yap, Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Chuuk, which can be used for education, among other things. Education past the 8th grade level is entirely optional for students, which adds another layer of difficulties in the classroom.

james 3

Since Chuuk is located just north of the equator, it is a very hot place to live. The temperature hangs right around 85 degrees all year round, and there is also a great deal of humidity. Most days it rains at least once, and sometimes it rains for days without stopping. Thus, I haven’t worn anything but sandals and shorts since I have arrived.

james 5

Family situations are very different here than in the United States, where most people live in small groups with only their immediate relatives. In Chuuk, however, families live on large compounds which house twenty or more people who are loosely related by Western standards. Chuukese families are called clans, and they range from 200 to over 1000 people. Most of the volunteers, including myself, live on compounds with families. The compound I live on has three puppies living in an abandoned freezer right outside my kitchen door, several roosters who roam freely, and a full-grown pig stays in a pen at the back of the compound. 5 other households are on the compound as well, including a young boy named Macgenius and girl named Jina.

james 4

———-

For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/

For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10

The North Star Project: Collaboration between The Middle Ground Journal Student Interns, The College of St. Scholastica, and North Star Academy 8th Grade Global Studies Classes, 2013-2014 School Year Reports.

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world.  We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year

(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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Filed under North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang