WorldTeach - Volunteer Teaching in Micronesia (past program)

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About

In Micronesia, there is a big need for volunteer teachers to teach math, science, English, health, and social studies classes. Teachers will be placed in various levels of schooling. Although English will not be the native language of most students, they will have varying levels of English from fluent to beginner; your classes will be taught fully in English. WorldTeach volunteers in Micronesia will be working in one of three states: Pohnpei, Kosrae, or Chuuk.

Our Micronesia program is fully funded by the Chuuk, Kosrae, and Pohnpei Departments of education and volunteer airfare is also covered.

With our year-long program, you can also become TEFL certified to earn credibility and give you an edge in the ESL teaching job market. While certification usually costs about $1,899, with WorldTeach you can become certified for only $350 while also gaining priceless in-country teaching experience.

Questions & Answers

I think the biggest challenge would be that the education system although based on the U.S. system often times has the goal of completiting a whole text book in a year. This is not the case often times in U.S. classrooms where chapters are skipped or the whole book is not completed. So as an Algebra 2 teacher I had to go over concepts from Algebra 1 and Geometry again so they could better...

Reviews

81%
based on 16 reviews
  • Benefits 8.2
  • Support 7.6
  • Fun 7.6
  • Facilities 7.9
  • Safety 8.4
Showing 1 - 15 of 16
Default avatar
S
9/10

Away from everything

I chose this program because I had never heard of Micronesia before. An island in the middle of nowhere sounded beautiful. It was the perfect way to disconnect myself from the world. The nature was amazing. A lot of great sights from sunsets on the coast to waterfalls in the jungle. One of the most unique things is that there are not many dangerous animals so you can hike with relative confidence that you won't encounter anything dangerous.
Teaching was a challenge. There is not a lot of materials available so you have to get creative doing experiments and getting the kids excited about learning things. The lack of interest of many parents with their children education is a big issue. Some kinds will rely on you not only for their academic development but for emotional issues.
Sexism is a huge issue in the islands. As a foreigner you have a special status, so you are more protected. It can be hard to not be able to get involved when you see an unfair treatment of a woman though.
This program was amazing. It was a huge challenge and It made me realize I can tackle most problems that come my way. I met some amazing people that I am still in contact with and that have taught me a lot of great things. It is weird that I had to go to a place most people have never heard of to find people with the best life stories I have ever heard. It was thanks to the great expat community and the isolation from modern societies that made this experience so rewarding and magical. Definitively recommended.

How can this program be improved?
More information and contact before the program starts. Something that was discussed with other volunteers was how we had fears the program was fake (to good to be true) until we were on the first plane ride to Hawaii.
Response from WorldTeach

Hello,

Thank you very much for leaving this review of your time in Micronesia! We are very glad to hear that you found the experience to be so rewarding, and we also appreciate your frank discussion of the challenges that come along with teaching overseas for a year, as well as the challenges that were specific to your community.

Thank you as well for the feedback about pre-departure processes! We will use this feedback to take a look at how best to communicate with confirmed volunteers prior to the program start.

That said, however, I think our staff would agree with you that the island programs seem "too good to be true" :-).

Best,

Caitlin

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Dana
10/10

Life-Changing Experience

When I decided to spend a year teaching abroad I put a lot of thought into which program I wanted to go through. I did a lot of research, took my time and eventually decided on WorldTeach. I was looking for a program large enough and experienced enough to ensure they likely had proper procedures and adequate contacts established but also one that was would allow me to to have fun and be independent without a ton of bureaucracy involved. WorldTeach was the perfect fit for me. I will not lie, it wasn't always easy. There are definitely certain conveniences you miss, expectations that aren't met and situations in which you are disappointed but overall, my experience was an amazing one.

I always felt safe and supported on the island of Kosrae while also having enough independence to pursue my own interests and create my own "family" in my home away from home. The headquarter staff were never more than an email away and always responded in a timely manner. Our field director was kind, supportive and knowledgeable of the local culture. I made connections on the island that will certainly last a lifetime and created memories I will never forget.

Spending time there through WorldTeach allowed me an opportunity to come to truly appreciate hard work, progress and accomplishment in ways I'd never known. The most satisfying part of the entire experience is knowing that I was able to help my students reach their goals of getting to college. Not simply because they will obtain a degree but because I am certain that those were the young men and women who would return to their island with the knowledge and ability to create sustainable, lasting, necessary change in pivotal industries including health care, education and government. That type of positive influence cannot be found in just any job or volunteer experience and, for me, it was made possible for me because of WorldTeach.

How can this program be improved?
As many have said, more detailed information in the predeparture packet would be helpful. Perhaps putting volunteers in contact with host families before arrival on the island would be a plus and would ease some of the initial discomfort.
Response from WorldTeach

Hi Dana,

Thank you so much for including a review about your WorldTeach experience. I'm so glad to hear that it was a positive one. Beyond your own personal growth, it sounds as though you made an immeasurable impact on your students, and we're very proud that we could be a part of that.

I also love your idea about putting volunteers in touch with host families. This is something we would love to do, although it's not always logistically possible. I will bring that feedback to the Programs team.

We love hearing about ways to improve the program, so your insight is much appreciated.

Thanks Dana!

Best,

Caitlin

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Max
9/10

Chuuk High School

Chuuk is the largest country in the FSM and at Chuuk High School WorldTeach in partner with the local Department of Education and Department of Special Education served over 1000 students, the largest impact in the pacific area per volunteer.
The local environment is still very traditional with many elements of western life beginning to become popular. The economy is in general poor, not all people have enough to eat, and traditional family roles greatly impact the roles of men and women in society.

How can this program be improved?
More on sight-training benefits every program. We also had many difficulties with communication and funding with the local government.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Derek
1/10

Go it Alone

My time in Micronesia was a fantastic experience! However, this was not due to WorldTeach. In fact, going through WorldTeach added a lot of undue headache, and I would strongly recommend to anyone interested in volunteering in the Federated States of Mirconesia (FSM) to simply contact the schools directly and seek out employment, or go through a more reputable program like the Peace Corps.

I know that many people have had positive experiences with WorldTeach, but simply put, most of those volunteers did not serve in the FSM. While the FSM is a beautiful place, with wonderful people and a vibrant culture, WorldTeach did not live up to their pre-departure promises and were woefully unprepared to support their volunteers in country. Like other posts on this site, female volunteers during my tenure endured sexual harassment, which when reported to our director, went unheard. In fact, our field director admonished the volunteers victimized by sexual harassment and who had experienced multiple break-ins to stop contacting her and to instead, contact their landlord. At this point, it is pertinent to mention our field director skipped orientation sessions, disparaged the volunteers to WorldTeach office staff, thereby ensuring no sympathetic ear would head our security needs, altered a lease I had signed to exculpate WorldTeach from financial responsibility, leaving me on the hook if our employers failed to pay rent, and quit halfway through the year. And let's not skip over the "break-in" part, because that too was a major issue. Besides petty theft of sandals left outside, there were 4 major break-ins where doors were kicked in or safety bars ripped from windows, including one that was perpetrated by the very landlord we were directed to turn to in our time of need. At no point did WorldTeach conduct the safety assessment they promised, and instead, threatened to withhold future letters of recommendation if we continued to voice our concerns. These issues were not a result of one terrible field director, but indeed, the WorldTeach home office ignored our concerns of personal danger, which illustrates an institutional lack of regard for their volunteers. While none of the volunteers quit (except of course the field director), most of my crew believed WorldTeach was an unnecessary middleman that offered more harm than help.

All of these statements can be verified with email documentation and volunteer testimonials.

Response from WorldTeach

Thanks for your feedback. This is not a common occurrence for our more than 7,000 plus alumni who have served in 25 countries for 30 years around the world. We pride ourselves on running quality programs and are always looking for ways to enhance our volunteer's experience. Please contact us directly to provide more specific feedback.

No, I don't recommend this program
Mc
1/10

Pohnpei, Micronesia

Do your extensive research before signing up. I trusted the fact that it was a Harvard-run program, and was completely misled. I have volunteered and lived in Ghana, Cambodia and Thailand, and this was by far the SCARIEST and most UNPROFESSIONAL experience I have ever had abroad. I was offered no support by my field director, and I ended up resigning after being there for two months. I have some stories about an ex-pat nearly getting raped by a local guy, and a volunteer getting broken into twice, (once while she was in her bedroom at night). In my case, I was placed in a home where there was a kava bar in our front yard, owned and operated by my host family every night. Despite WT's policy PROHIBITING volunteers to be placed where there are drugs and alcohol involved, I was never offered a different placement, even after I had complained about it to our program manager in Boston. I had to deal with 10+ drunk men coming over all the time and harassing us throughout the night. I would get "night-crawled", which means there would be a stranger knocking on our window and yelling things to get our attention- and possibly letting him into our bedroom in the middle of night. Apparently, that was the "norm", but I was not physically nor mentally prepared for such thing. After witnessing and hearing stories of my fellow female volunteers getting sexually harassed, broken into and robbed, I could not go to sleep at night. I was terrified to close my eyes and pass out when it was dark out, knowing that there would be a few men drinking heavily right on my doorstep. My field director failed to change my placement and offered little support-to me, and all the other female volunteers who had similar SAFETY ISSUES. He was apathetic to my concerns because his experience as a MALE volunteer was very different from mine. On several occasions, he was caught talking to other ex-pats about how "dramatic" the female volunteers were being, when they would express their fear of being home alone. I highly recommend you go out of your way and speak with WT alumni and current volunteers on the island before you sign up. I am not the only person who has had an awful experience with WT abroad. There is a reason why they have not been able to retain a field director in Pohnpei for more than two years in a row. In fact, last year's FD only lasted about 6 months on the island, due to the rough living conditions she had to endure. If you would like to see real pictures of my placement and chat about the program, do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Thanks.

Response from WorldTeach

Thanks for your feedback. This is not a common occurrence for our more than 7,000 plus alumni who have served for 30 years around the world. We pride ourselves on running quality programs throughout the world and are always looking for ways to enhance our volunteer's experience. Please contact us directly to provide more specific feedback.

No, I don't recommend this program
Default avatar
Robyn
9/10

Awesome program!

Amazing program at an amazing school in a beautiful country! One of the best experiences of my life; I even went back afterwards on my own to continue teaching in the community.
Didn't have the best support prior to departure, but feedback was heard and the staff in that role has since changed. They do a great job of hiring supportive and knowledgeable field staff (who are the real problem solvers during your service).

How can this program be improved?
Pre-departure support was lacking slightly, but I believe this has changed due to feedback from participants. I had no problems, but I know others in my program did.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Matthew
10/10

Island life is the life for me

If you're thinking you want a taste of the island life, but still have some modern comforts like internet and grocery stores, then WorldTeach Micronesia might be your cup of coconut water.

The program in Kosrae is a great experience, and you can really make a difference at the high school. Getting to know the kids is probably the best part. Afternoons and weekends exploring the island is a close second.

Island life is a glorious slow-paced roller coaster of an experience for first-world/fast-paced Westerners. It's good to put things in perspective, to slow down, enjoy simple pleasures, and get a taste of a different way of life. It's paradise... if you can handle it.

If you want the hardcore island life experience, go to the WorldTeach Marshall Islands program for an outer island placement.

If you want the more developed island life experience, go to the WorldTeach Pohnpei program.

If you want the more populated island life experience, go to the WorldTeach Chuuk program.

If you want the quieter and slower paced island life experience, go to the WorldTeach Kosrae program.

Hope you have a great experience too :)

How can this program be improved?
Every program can be improved... but mostly what it really boils down to is that you will get out of it what you put into it. Learn the language, make close friendships, and do your best to be happy. You're no good to people out here unless you are enjoying yourself.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Ashish
8/10

Ever supportive, never over bearing

Expect efficient processing by the home office and helpful, practical support by on site Field Director.
1.After an ego battle at work with a senior teacher about grading students, my FD gave me a no nonsense run down of the situation from an administrative stand point and wasn't being plain diplomatic to save face if things turned sour. Very hands on when required, giving plenty of space otherwise.
2. Some financial transactions that had to go through the home office went through very smoothly with a few emails and calls. Warm, real support at home and on the field.

How can this program be improved?
Err... Maybe press schools to provide fans for all classrooms? Nothing really vital.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Ali
9/10

Share is scare...

While you're in Pohnpei. You got to hear this slang many times from friends ,students and locals. Pohnpeian are generous people. I can give many examples of their kindness. No doubt! yet no one told me what does it mean? I guess it an mysterious island to me after all.

How can this program be improved?
Pre-departure.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Ben
8/10

A great Micronesian expierence

Being the first full year group on Pohnpei, Micronesia had its challenges and rewards. Certainly the students, people, and fellow teachers are very welcoming on Pohnpei. My teaching life as an Algebra II teacher was really good and I feel I had an impact on my students then and even 7 years later as I write this.

WorldTeach now has a very successful program in Micronesia and I highly recommend this program to anyone looking to have a unique year volunteering and teaching. You even get the added bonus of experiencing a small Pacific Island culture.

More information on my year volunteer teaching as part of this program can be found at www.worldreviewer.com/travel-guides/conservation/teaching-i…

How can this program be improved?
Better language training and preparation on classroom material which I am sure happen now as we were the first full year group in this program.
Response from WorldTeach

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this helpful review!

Our Department of Education now creates a curriculum designed to work in accordance with the local standards of each country where we teach, and within each school setting and student age. These curricula materials are reviewed during Orientation, and provided to each volunteer. Additionally, our Teacher Quality Program ensures that each volunteer is assigned to a Coordinator who is located in the US office. This Coordinator is a current student pursuing their Masters in Education, with prior international teaching experience. The Coordinator is responsible for communicating with the volunteer to review monthly lesson plans, answer questions, address classroom concerns, and provide additional resources for specific lesson plans or language topics. The coordinator is also available for Skype sessions to speak with the volunteer

During the initial orientation upon arrival, volunteers receive local language training: language classes are held each day for about 1-2 hours, which totals around 20 hours of language immersion. However, the focus of orientation is on teacher training (including 40-50 hours of TEFL training, and 15 hours of teaching practicum), and not the local language. After orientation ends, the volunteer must continue dedicating him/herself to language immersion; it is often times very easy to find language exchange partners who will teach you their language in exchange for English language tutoring. The goal is to always be speaking English with students, but there are plenty of opportunities for language immersion outside of the classroom in the larger community.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Lindsey
10/10

Kosrae (Island of the Sleeping Lady), Micronesia

Kosrae

I will start off by saying through WorldTeach in Kosrae I had an amazing year, and I would not change anything about it for the world. I really enjoyed my time there because the volunteers were amazing, other expats were so helpful and friendly, the locals were always so kind, the organization itself provided lots of support, the school staff were friendly, and my host family was amazing!!

A typical day involved me getting up with my host family and eating breakfast. I would then ride my bike the short distance to school (bringing a rain jacket is recommended). I would arrive to the school around 8, and school did not start until 8:30. This gave me time to get my board prepared, and tie up any loose ends before school started. I would teach three sections, have 4th period as a prep, lunch, and then teach three more sections. The day usually ended by 2:40, except on Friday. During third and fourth quarter I tutored for two hours after school. After school I would ride my bike home, take a quick shower, maybe grab a snack, an then ride my bike to the volunteer house. I would socialize with the other volunteers and get some internet for a little while. I would then ride my bike back home, where I would grade some papers/ relax for a little while. I would then end the night eating dinner and watching tv with my host family.

The weekends were free to do with what I wanted. The was a really nice expat community, and we would usually get together on Friday night at one of the hotels for food and drinks. This was some nice time to unwind after a long week. The rest of the weekend could be spent hiking, going to waterfalls, climbing a giant tree next to a waterfall, swimming, snorkeling, diving, or going to a local barbecue. There are a lot of fun cultural events that happen throughout the year. In September there is liberation day, which a weekend spent playing games, eating food, and spending time with friends and neighbors. In December there is Christmas Marching, this is really fun. In Lelu Village the treat visitors very kindly. They give away lots of gifts and trinkets, they also do not mind if you get involved and march and sing with them. This is what I did. It was a wonderful way to spend Christmas away from family. There are also track and field days, markets, and cultural days. All which are very fun.

Kosraean people are very kind and giving. They will always offer you food and invite you to picnics. If you are walking on the side of the road they will stop there car and ask if you want a ride. It is very safe in Kosrae. I never felt in danger. There were times I would be riding my bike back home in the dark and I always made it home safely.

Overall I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Kosrae, and I know that many of the volunteers in my group were very sad to leave. It is a special place, and really is the gem of Micronesia. One things to keep in mind is Kosrae is very conservative. Respect the culture and their beliefs and you will have no problem.

Hope you enjoy your time if you visit Kosrae

Best,

Lindsey

How can this program be improved?
Working together and developing a curriculum wold greatly help the school, and guess what??? This is already in development. You can work together to make Kosrae High School the best it can be!
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
A.
10/10

A Wonderful WorldTeach Experience In Pohnpei

I started in 2009 as a WorldTeach volunteer and was Field Director the following school year. My volunteer year was one of the best of my life. I love my teaching site (though it was very challenging) and I learned a lot about myself as a teacher. I fell in love with my students at the local high school. Really bonding with and believing in them despite the many obstacles was the key to me loving my site despite the lack of many resources. For instance, it was almost impossible to get photo copies made, my chalk board was so deteriorated that I could hardly write on it, and most days there was no electricity. Often, there was no water or access to toilets and bug infestations were also a problem. Still, I worked hard everyday with my students and eventually saw great results. I only hope I inspired my students as much as they inspired me! It really was one of the best years of my life, but I walked into it truly ready for anything.

As far as Pohnpei itself goes, I absolutely loved it too! In fact, I ended up staying five years total. Pohnpei is certainly not for everyone, but if you make it your goal to keep and open mind and make as many local and expat friends as you can, you should have a blast!

For me, being a vegetarian on Pohnpei was possible, but not super easy. My favorite social activities were fishing/boating, camping, hiking, and hanging out with friends of all kinds both from Pohnpei and around the world. If you are an outdoorsy person, bring your gear. If you are adventurous, you will have many chances to use it. That being said, you usually have to create your own adventure. There are not many pre-packaged tourist-type options--at least not many that can be done consistently on a budget.

Pohnpei can be truly easy and fun living. If you are in Pohnpei and stressed out by your surroundings, look back at yourself. You are likely putting yourself in that mindset! Relax, smile, and have fun. WT will be there to support you and you WILL make a wonderful difference in the hearts and minds of many of your students if you give it your all. Success might come in unexpected ways and after some time, but it will come if you put your heart into what you do. Believe in yourself and your goals, but at the same time don't take yourself or your personal agenda too seriously. Be ready to change course as needed.

I have recently left Pohnpei after five wonderful years, and I look forward to the day I will go back and visit or even live there again. I am so happy that I decided to do the WorldTeach program, as it has taught me so much about myself, allowed me many fun experiences, and ultimately ended up opening many doors for me both professionally and personally. If you are considering living in Pohnpei as a teaching volunteer, WorldTeach is definitely they way to go!

How can this program be improved?
I think that WorldTeach does an excellent job managing expectations of what teaching in a developing nation will be like. Unfortunately, some volunteers don't read all of the provided pre-departure material and, therefore, are taken off guard by what they actually experience compared to what they think they should or will experience. Me sure you read all of the wonderful pre-departure materials that WT provides as means of managing your own expectations. Finally, if you are not flexible and do not have an open mind, teaching abroad in a developing nation may not be for you.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
David
9/10

Volunteer Experience was Powerful

Anyone wondering if it is worth their time to volunteer for teaching in Micronesia, if you ask me the answer is yes. The weather has extremes, from intense sun to dense rain, but most of the time there are enough clouds and breeze that relief is commonplace.
The people are easy, the pace is comfortable, and, as long as you are not looking for the purest of luxury (which may be available if you have your own money, but not on a volunteer stipend) you can find what you need and do what you want.
I was not out to save the world, but I was looking for a way to get to the tropical islands and still do something worthwhile. WorldTeach provided that for me. I am forever changed, and I am forever grateful.

How can this program be improved?
Better information for realistic day-to-day living would have been helpful. Living in Kolonia, Pohnpei, life was more dynamic than on smaller islands and atolls. As well, needs are more easily met than in the other locations. Yet, much of the information sought to prepare me for something else.
Response from WorldTeach

Thank you for taking the time to leave this helpful review. In regards to providing realistic information on day-to-day life in Micronesia, WorldTeach provides an extensive country profile in our pre-departure literature, including a cultural, political, economical, and social analysis. Each specific placement region within each country is also addressed in this literature, and orientation allows for a further introduction to the realities of living in-country. However, the real learning can only truly begin once you've arrived at your placement, because this is where you make the experience your own.
Thank you for bringing this important matter to attention!

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Maria
8/10

My experience in Micronesia

Overall my experience was very good. I really enjoyed the teaching and felt that I was able to do a good job. I felt a bit isolated as I was the only person from my country and I was older than most of the other volunteers.

How can this program be improved?
I have no complaints about the program. If it was possible to increase the monthly stipend it would be great.
Response from WorldTeach

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this review. Our monthly stipends vary by country to ensure that each volunteer is able to meet the cost of living in their specific placement location. Each year we analyze the local currency/exchange rate, cost of living, and volunteer feedback in order to devise the stipend. Therefore, if deemed necessary, the stipend may possibly increase. The stipend is often times similar to the salary of local teachers where the volunteer is serving. It is of course a living stipend and not a full salary, but allows the volunteer to meet his basic needs.
Thank you so much for bringing this important topic to our attention.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Makenzie
10/10

WT Kosrae

I had an amazing year in Kosrae, Micronesia. I taught 10th and 11th grade Geometry and Algebra II, which is exactly what I had wanted to teach. I taught the honors students who were college bound and thus proficient in English (they had strong speaking skills but struggled more with English writing). My largest problems as a teacher were attendance and students not doing their homework, but never disrespectful behavior to me or each other.

The first few weeks during orientation, we lived with host families, which turned out to be crucial for me in understanding the culture and where my students were coming from. I then moved into an apartment with three other volunteers. These girls became my "soul friends" as I now call them. We cooked all of our own meals, except for special occasions when we went to one of four restaurants/bars on the island (three run by expats and one local) or to community and church events. There is one road that goes around the circumference of the island - everyone lives off of that road so there are no addresses. We spent our free time riding our bikes around the island, hiking, swimming, snorkeling, getting scuba diving certified, learning ukulele, watching movies, reading, running after school clubs, tutoring, spending time with our host families, etc. It's a small island but with being a first year teacher and all of the adventuring that could be had, I never got bored. It was a very impactful year on my life.

How can this program be improved?
Like another reviewer said, I had no curriculum whatsoever to work with, so that would be my one place for improvement. A lack of resources, etc was expected, however, with teaching abroad. Otherwise, the program itself is extremely well run - I had a support system in country and out. WT puts their confidence in their volunteers and gives them the independence to run with their ideas.
Response from WorldTeach

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this review.

Our Department of Education now creates a curriculum designed to work in accordance with the local standards of each country where we teach, and within each school setting and student age. These curricula materials are reviewed during Orientation, and provided to each volunteer. Additionally, our Teacher Quality Program ensures that each volunteer is assigned to a Coordinator who is located in the US office. This Coordinator is a current student pursuing their Masters in Education, with prior international teaching experience. The Coordinator is responsible for communicating with the volunteer to review monthly lesson plans, answer questions, address classroom concerns, and provide additional resources for specific lesson plans or language topics. The coordinator is also available for Skype sessions to speak with the volunteer.

Thank you again for your time, as it is important to note that WorldTeach's main concern is providing support to its volunteer teachers.

Yes, I recommend this program

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WorldTeach was founded in 1986 by a group of Harvard students who were motivated by the desire to promote local education initiatives in places where teachers and resources were lacking. Today, we continue to provide opportunities for individuals to...