I left Peace Corps Micronesia-Ponape in June 1971. It was a wonderful experience. I certainly learned more from the Ponapeans than I taught them. The relationships and friendships they shared with me and other fellow PCVs have been lifelong lessons that I cherish to this day. I can say that I gave it my all. Learning the language, planting rice and pepper and vegetables with an Agriculture counterpart(Henry Hadley), working on the Temwen Nahs each week, living with the Lawrence Ehpel family in Wene during training and the Pedrus and Bumio Silbanus family in Madowlenihmw for two year service outside of the district center met the definition of ‘the toughest job I ever loved.’
This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy 38 years in education and the students and teachers and parents that I was privileged to work with. It is also not the same kind of love I have for my wife Millie and our children. For without their support and encouragement I would never have entertained the pursuit of a goal that I shared with Millie since we first met. I have developed a skill set that should allow me to give, at least as much as I will get, from an opportunity to work in school improvement on Pohnpei. I have been assigned to work with 4 elementary schools in Kitti. More on this later.
We are so blessed to have a large family, a wonderful church family, and a supportive Peace Corps family that I served with from 1969 to 1971. We have been working on this process for the past 5 months and today I received my last travel documents to leave 3 days from now at 7:25 Friday the 1st from the Honolulu airport. I arrive on Pohnpei at 3pm on the 2nd – crossing the international dateline before getting to Majuro in the Marshall Islands. Millie, Rick and I have been staying with cousins – they can see me off.
I have yet to meet the Peace Corps Response Volunteers that I will travel with. Millie said she felt like she was packing for her 4th child(I thought we only had 3) to go to college. I have dishes, a coffee pot, rice cooker, silver ware, duct tape, head lamp, small tools, and rope to get through my first semester. I have a week in Kolonia, the district center, before going out to my work site. I have the benefit of my first two year Peace Corps experience, many support systems and some education and work experience to begin my PC Response service this time. I am very excited and thankful for the opportunity the Peace Corps and my family are giving me. I will strive to regularly share my experiences, thoughts and feelings. In looking for materials for this venture I came across a diary of the first six months of my first tour. I chose not to read them as I expect this new experience to be quite different.
John Olson, PCRV