Reflections on Micronesia

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Micronesia left quite an impression on me. Apparently, typhoons are a big deal in Micronesia. Micronesia is hard to sum up in a few words. The Benetech team and I are excited about helping these students with content in both the local language and English, and hope that we can do worthwhile work in supporting the educators of Micronesia to serve students with disabilities.

The Island Hopper to Micronesia

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

Although the mission of the trip is to understand the situation of visually impaired students in Micronesia, I absolutely get the benefits of visiting these islands and enjoying the scenery. Our first destination on this trip was Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). I'm on an exciting trip to places I've never been before!


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Social Enterprise: Black Pearls from Nukuoro Atoll

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

I found out that there is a hierarchy of remote islands. There are the big main islands, which are reasonably remote, like Pohnpei or Weno on Chuuk (my next stop). These islands have international air service like the Island Hopper I talked about in an earlier post. Then, there are the islands you can get to by small boat that are less than two hours from the mainland.

Chuuk, formerly known as Truk

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

We rejoined the Island Hopper for the short flight to Chuuk. During World War II, Americans knew this island as Truk, the main Japanese naval base for the Western Pacific. It has a huge lagoon, with lots of islands in it. This is unlike Pohnpei, which has one major island and a few small ones. Chuuk is having a hard time. Weno, the island with the airport on it, has a reputation for corruption and crime.

Guam and the Consortium

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

The final stop for my Micronesia trip was Guam, a U.S. The Consortium is made up of six island nations, commonwealths or territories: American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia (including Chuuk and Pohnpei), Guam, Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau. territory. Arriving on Guam felt like coming back to the United States, although it's more like Hawaii than the mainland!

Guam 100

Visiting Schools in Pohnpei

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

The main goal of visiting Micronesia is for me to gain a real-world perspective on schools and books for students with disabilities. This was a big relief, since we would be responsible for making sure these books are accessible to disabled students in Micronesia. We visited several schools, including detailed visits to two elementary schools and a high school.

Meeting Key Leaders in Pohnpei (including the Governor!)

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

The Federated States of Micronesia has its capital on Pohnpei (it's one of four states in the FSM), so we met with both leaders from the federal FSM government as well as from Pohnpei State. Our official visit to Pohnpei started with calls on key education leaders. Our main host was Carlina Henry, who was terrific. She met us at the airport, took us to see Nan Madol on Sunday, and then arranged the great majority of our meetings during the five days we were on Pohnpei.

Donna Leads a Home Visit to a Blind Toddler

Beneblog: Technology Meets Society

She has also made Micronesia her professional mission focus. In addition to meeting with key leaders and visiting schools, Donna McNear really wanted me to see blind children in their homes. Donna is the main reason I'm involved with this project: she's an itinerant teacher of the blind in rural Minnesota. But, she's a teacher with a national reputation and a fierce dedication to improving and reforming the system for educating blind children.