After a couple technological glitches, here is Part 2 of Jodi William’s guest post about her visit to Palau. See Part 1 here.
My next day in Palau I met Jeremiah, an extremely shy LS student who was quick to grin a devilish smile, but slow to open up and talk or share. Both Jeremiah and his brother are students at PCC who grew up on the island of Chuuk-FSM and are attending PCC while living in the dorm available to students. Jeremiah’s initial shyness was slow to cast off as we all sat around the table, educator, students and administrators as equals to talk about how to move the PCC program online. I was eager to learn about the culture of the Palauan people and the best strategies to help them learn at a distance, both through their Program, and ultimately UMA’s. Jeremiah stayed in the background assisting with set up, with shifting of table or task, and slowly began to share more about his interests and his culture.
Before we left he was open and enthusiastic. His winning smile was apparent and his excitement at making the connection to Maine evident in the pictures we took at our farewell dinner and in the presentation of the cultural dance he and his brother performed with other male students from the island of Chuuk.
So what is the draw, one might ask?
Palau is a developing country with limited resources and pretty limited/slow access to the information highway. They are poor in many ways yet rich in many more. Palauans are passionate about learning, advocating for education, and they see libraries as an important place for their communities and the schools in those communities. Students in the LS program at PCC shared stories of transforming libraries from a storage room for books to community centers. This relationship between PCC and UMA allows us to have the world as our classroom and presents to all of us a rich, diverse cultural experience for everyone to learn from.
Where else can we come together to learn from common, uncommon and challenging experiences? Where else can we remove the barriers of location, economic and personal challenge, make transparent the cultural differences, and work collaboratively to learn, to grow and to become? Where else can we go far, but all stay close to those places that matter to us?
This experience was beyond anything I could imagine and I was both humbled by the passion of the PCC students and the generosity of the Palauan people, with stories of their dedication, their sharing of traditional Palauan food and their great love of humor followed by laughing, and a truly deep, caring nature. We had many surprises as part of our visit to this remote area of the world; crabbing by moonlight with the students, a surprise tour of the Rock Islands, traditional singing and dancing, daily baked goods for breakfast, tapioca in coconut milk, crab and fresh reef fish for dinner.
We are excited to welcome PCC to be a part of UMA and even more humbled to be invited to be part of PCC and Micronesia. We are eager to see the relationship grow and for the horizon of both student and faculty to expand.
Thanks Colleen for allowing me the honor of being a guest blogger on your site!
Back in the USA, but still lagging <smile>,
Jodi, Coordinator UMA/ILS program
Again, I thank Jodi for her thoughtful guest post that shows just how far online classes can reach!