I had always wanted to do an immersion program in another country. I was drawn to WorldTeach's programs because they only required a one year commitment (as opposed to the Peace Corps), although when it was time to leave, I seriously considered staying for another year because I realized that one year was not enough time to really make significant changes. In fact, I only started to "find my groove" at the start of the second semester. I did stay a few extra months and participated in a teacher training program on Majuro.
I chose to live on an outer island because I wanted the challenge of being totally out of my comfort zone. I definitely got what I asked for! If you choose the outer island experience, you will not have a lot of contact (especially not immediate) with home or fellow volunteers. That was difficult at times when you really wanted to talk to someone that could relate to what you are experiencing. However, there were arrangements made for occasional visits to other islands, semi regular radio check-ins, a volunteer contact assigned to help you get needed items from the main island, and good old fashion snail mail, which takes on a whole new meaning when you are relying on the inconsistency of the RMI planes to deliver much anticipated correspondence and care packages.
The program overall was a good fit for me. The return volunteer who interviewed me helped with my expectations as well, even going as far as to lend me items she found helpful during her time. While at times I felt really alone, when I really needed assistance, like when I needed to change host families, the field director came to my aid and facilitated the move with ease handling the delicate balance of not offending anyone while still getting me a more hospitable family.
Some of my favorite parts of the experience were the natural beauty that I was able to enjoy every day - the beach, the water, the trees; the friendships I made with other volunteers whom I never would have met in my little Midwest bubble; the ability to experience a different culture and people (while often frustrating) allowed me to see a different way of life, allowed me to slow down and reassess what I considered important; and the events and activities I was invited to participate in on my home island, such as first birthdays, small island picnics, and mat weaving lessons.