Last week our only national college held their 25th anniversary founding day celebrations. It was a week of activities that included a parade, canoe house dedication, a photography exhibit, a discussion with our most famous Jesuit priest of Micronesia, a free screening of the Island Soldier movie and a gala dinner event.
Sadly, I was not able to attend all of the events, but I did attend at least two of those events and came away being very grateful for the experiences. I hear the college raised $576,000 this year which is $76,000 over their intended mark. Congratulations to COM-FSM! Our one and only national college, where so many of our past, present and future leaders have passed through.
So, I did attend the discussion by Fr. Fran Hezel on college education in FSM and came away with the knowledge that the college “boom” is over. In fact, it’s not only over it is de-booming if that’s a word I can use. Using the backdrop of Micronesian history and statistics compiled over many years, Fr. Hezel very calmly informed us that the number of college educated Micronesians has declined. He used numbers like only 1.7 out of 1000 Micronesians have college degrees today!! Ouch!
He went on to recommend that COM-FSM expand their services to provide 4 year degrees. As we all know, you can get an Associate’s degree now with the assistance of pell grants that allow our people to basically get a free college education. Aren’t we so lucky! A college education in the US is just too expensive and most of our people who immigrate to the US are not going to school.
I agree with the good Father. Let’s concentrate on what we have and max out those benefits bestowed upon us by that great Compact of Free Association with Uncle Sam. Another option that wasn’t discussed but is an excellent way to get an education and work experience is to join the US Military and take advantage of their 100% tuition assistance while on active duty and the GI bill when they get out. The post 9/11 GI Bill even provides housing allowance while paying for tuition and books.
The second event I attended was the film screening of the Island Soldier documentary. This was a free screening at the Pohnpei cinema with a Q and A session after the screening with director, Nathan Fitch. Nathan was a peace corps volunteer in Kosrae and for six months in Pohnpei. If you haven’t heard about the film, click here to get an idea.
As a Micronesian who served in the US Military I can relate to the film. It was touching and informative. Nathan Fitch put in a lot of effort on this film, and I appreciate his initiative in sharing our story. It was hard to watch at some times, because of the emotions that were stirred up from my military past, but all in all I want to say thank you to Nathan for documenting our story. The story needs to continue and our Veterans celebrated more often. My two cents here.
I have a lot more to say, but let me leave the rest for my podcast. You can listen to my podcasts at The Micronesian Podcast on Anchor.