"A Peace Corps volunteer couldn't hope for a better duty assignment than Tamilang Elementary School," exclaims Laurel Taylor.
That K-8 school serves the the historic municipality of Tomil, on the storied and remote Island of Yap in Micronesia. Motivated and organized, the local community does everything possible to let the talents of their creative and intelligent students shine.
To encourage them in their imaginings and English language acquisition, Taylor began to pursue the community's longstanding interest in improving Tailing's library. She made it her top goal at the beginning of this academic year. Typhoon Sudal had ripped the roof off the building and destroyed half the school's books, leaving outdated encyclopedias and reference books and molding picture books.
Great news reaches Habele from Francis Yarofalyango, a junior at Yap Catholic High School (YCHS). Francis has earned honors for perfect attendance and a high average across all six of his first quarter courses!
Francis is a native of Lamotrek an isolated, low lying coral atoll in Micronesia. Through his Habele Scholarship, he is able to attend a prestigious independent school on Yap Proper, the more populous State Capital.
Like many Habele scholars, Francis also participates in Habele sponsored enrichment and extracurricular programs, such as sports leagues and robotics teams. He even had a hand in the crafting of the US-FSM Friendship Canoe, which just arrived in South Carolina.
Francis -or "Cisco" to his teachers and close friends- is emblematic of the ambitious, driven students Habele seeks to support.
"Cisco had a tremendous quarter," explained Mr. Wiencek, the Yap Catholic Algebra II and Trigonometry Instructor. "He worked very hard for his grade and was a great help to his classmates during collaborative assignments." Social Studies teacher Mr. Mailen adds "Francis' passion to learn about history is obvious and it has driven him to excel."
A symbol of the longstanding friendship between the United States and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the canoe represents months of painstaking craftsmanship, and centuries of traditional technique. This custom craft was hand built by the master carvers and apprentices with “Waa'gey,” a cultural preservation and mentorship program operating throughout Yap.
The westernmost state in Micronesia, the tiny islands and atolls of Yap are scattered across 500 miles of ocean, just south of the US Territory of Guam. An American protectorate following its liberation in World War Two, Micronesia is now a sovereign nation in a special “Compact” with the US.
Super Typhoon Maysak, a record-setting storm that ravaged Yap and Chuuk States in the spring of 2015. Delivery of the donated canoe is being organized by Habele, a South Carolina headquartered charity serving students throughout Yap and across Micronesia. Habele solicited, coordinated and delivered relief supplies to pupils and educators in the wake of the storm.
Photo: Four Habele scholars in Yap State, Micronesia.
(Colonia, Yap) A dozen promising students from three FSM States are headed to the private school of their families choosing this year.
These exceptional students received K-12 tuition scholarships from Habele, a nonprofit founded by former Peace Corps Volunteers that operates exclusively in the FSM.
“Investing in the future of these bright and ambitious children is a real pleasure,” explained Matthew Coleman, a Habele Project Director. “It’s exciting to participate in empowering the future leaders of the FSM. Habele knows there are many other gifted students for whom educational opportunity is still just a dream, and we remain committed to the mission of reaching them.”
Among the 2015-16 Habele scholars are students attending Saint Mary’s, Yap SDA, Yap Catholic High School, Xavier High School, and Calvary Christian Academy. The six boys and six girls come from a number of island communities across the FSM.
(Yap, Micronesia) A group of master craftsman on Yap are using cultural skills and traditional designs to create trophies for winning athletes in that Micronesian State’s sports tournament.
The Fifth Annual Yap Games opened to a large crowd in mid-July at the Yap Sports Complex Gymnasium. Nearly 900 athletes, representing 10 municipalities across Yap, are competing in a dozen separate sports. Among the most popular are basketball, soccer and wrestling, according to Paul Lane, Director of Yap's Sports Council.
Organizers have partnered with Waa’gey, a group organizing efforts of local carvers, to developed distinctive traditionally inspired trophies. These symbols of reward and recognition are modeled after the “Carolina Proa,” a complex all wood outrigger canoe design perfected -and made famous- by Micronesians
Habele’s volunteers and donors are working to stock a school-based library in Pohnpei, answering the request of local educators on that Micronesian Island.
Temwen School is a small and rural Elementary school in the Madolenihmw municipality of Pohnpei. Temwen School has a small staff of seven teachers and one Peace Corps Volunteer; the Principal Elcid Joseph is a teaching principal.
Today was an exciting day for the 32 Outer Island seniors who determined to finish their final year of high school, despite having been displaced by the violence of Typhoon Maysak. Every one of the seniors completed their classes today, and are ready to graduate!
After the storm destroyed their local high schools, these students were transferred to Yap, where they finished out the school year at the Yap High School campus. Fortunately, the dedicated Peace Corps teachers - Caroline, Tianna, Patrick and John - were able to continue teaching the students who they were formally serving on the Outer Islands. A big thanks to these hardworking teachers who have put so much into the students!