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Growing Interest in Character Education in Micronesia
Michael Treacy, UPF-Micronesia
United States
May 21, 2007

Sunrise in Kosrae, Micronesia
Based on the success of UPF's Character Education initiative in Pohnpei, the most populous state of Micronesia, Iso Iriarte and I organized a visit to another state, Kosrae, through two of our dedicated Ambassadors for Peace, Senator John Martin and former President Jacob Nena.

Fuel shortages, economic downturn, misappropriate of funds and disrepair have recently plagued Kosrae. This is evidenced in the high suicide rate among young people. Kosrae is, nevertheless, a naturally beautiful place and is famous for its green mandarins, clean sea water and mountain range known as "The Sleeping Lady."

Iso and I arrived on May 14 and were met by Senator Martin at the Kosrae International Airport. The following morning we met with the newly-appointed governor, Robert James Weilbacher, who recognized the value of the character education program in promoting positive social change and gave his support for its implementation. In explaining the program, it was so valuable to have the support of Iso, a former president, and a current state senator. The governor recommended that we visit the Department of Education, and he formally announced our visit to the Acting Director of Education, Mr. Lugo Skilling, who welcomed us warmly.

Sen. John Martin, Michael Treacy, Governor Weilbacher, Iso Iriarte and Hon. Jacob Nena

Acting Director Lugo Skilling with Iso Iriarte and Michael Treacy receiving a set of "Discovering The Real Me" books.

We discussed the benefits and content of the character education program and gave him a set of books. He advised us to arrange another meeting with his senior staff the following day.

Later in the day, we met the Minister for Health, Hon. Bob Skilling, and the newly appointed Attorney General, Ms JayDee Lee, along with the US Ambassador for Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands, Amb. Susanne Hale.

Speaker Linden Jackson, Iso Iriarte, Michael Treacy, Education Minister Jefferson Timothy and Sen. John Martin.
The following morning, Sen. Martin arranged a meeting with the Speaker of the Kosrae Legislature, Hon. Linden Jackson, and the Chair of the Education Committee, Hon. Jefferson Timothy. There was great interest in our work, particularly as there was a symposium in the state regarding youth problems and suicide.

Iso and I met with the senior education staff. I gave the PowerPoint presentation on "The Need to Educate for Character" and a slide show about the Teacher Training Workshop in Pohnpei last November. Since many of the staff knew their counterparts in the Pohnpei Education Department, they asked when they could have a Teacher Training Workshop.

Iso and I met with Sen. Martin and Hon. Nena several times before leaving Kosrae and made arrangements for two Congregational ministers to attend the upcoming Leadership Seminar in Korea.

With the support of the Ambassadors for Peace, Japanese volunteers, and regional leadership, we were able to accomplish a great deal in such a short time. We hope to see the dawning of real hope for Kosrae.

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