June is graduation month in most places. Kosrae is no exception. Kosrae has one high school with about 400 students. A month ago, the school’s gymnasium was packed with 1500 adoring and cheering family members. Since most Kosraeans are related to each other, it’s no surprise that a quarter of Kosrae’s residents were in the gym to see a family member receive a diploma. Thanks to Kosrae still being Covid-free, there was no need for social distancing.
Having taught high school last semester, I was proud to see my former students in their caps and gowns. More than half my students will go to college.
June was also the end of the school year at the College of Micronesia. During spring semester, I taught a series of science seminars. At my last presentation, the faculty and staff turned out for a big lunch. In the photo below, I’m shaking hands with Dean Mike telling him how sorry I am that I can’t teach for another year.
When not at school, I’ve continued to volunteer for KIRMA and KCSO doing environmental studies. I love the projects they give me, which require me to hike around in the woods to write reports on geology and water quality. Shown below is one of my study areas.
Kosrae has a constant stream of social activities. I get invited to many birthday parties, some of which are huge feasts. I’m spoiled by all the fresh seafood. I attend church every Sunday morning because that’s what everyone here does. In fact, if I don’t go to church, someone comes to my door with food to ask if I’m okay — so I have to go! One Sunday at a nearby church, the clergy were so pleased to have me in their congregation that they rewrote the sermon just before the service so they could deliver it in English on my behalf. They also picked out hymns in English. Now where in the world would that sort of thing happen?
When I haven’t been in the woods, in classrooms, at parties or at church, I’ve been at my desk writing a book. It’s about Kosrae and the epic travels that led me here — plus my own brand of travel advice and philosophy. If you’ve enjoyed reading my blogs, you’ll love Go Now! I titled the book Go Now! because our world is changing fast. If you want to see what’s here before it’s gone, Go Now! Click here to go to Amazon.com to buy my book. My Kosraean friends hope lots of people will read this book because they want people to know where their island is.
By the time, I board my plane on Monday, I’ll have been in Kosrae for exactly 500 days. Although I’m looking forward to seeing my American friends and family again, I’ll miss Kosrae and all the wonderful people here. Kosrae is truly paradise. Friendly people. Beautiful scenery. Snorkeling every day. Plus, with no Covid-19, I haven’t had to wear a mask or social distance for my entire stay here. Micronesia still enforces a travel ban. With few exceptions, no one is allowed to come into Kosrae. This means that when I leave Kosrae on Monday, I won’t be able to return here — at least not for many months. As of now, almost half of Micronesia has had two Moderna shots. When the number gets to 70% or 80%, perhaps Micronesia will lift its ban on inbound international tourists.
I could make a long list of all the things I’m going to miss about Kosrae. Returning to America is going to be culture shock, for sure. It’ll be strange to park my car in a 5-acre parking lot and walk into a giant grocery store where everything from taco shells to Roquefort cheese is on the shelves. I’ll think back to the mornings when I walked two minutes down the road to my neighbor’s market for bananas, coconuts, papayas and home-made pepper sauce — which goes well with chicken or fish.
Although I’ll miss Kosrae, there’s a lot of the world I still haven’t seen. Despite the on-going travel restrictions, I hope to be back on the road again in a few months. See you then in my next blog. Until then, be safe and stay healthy!