The sleeping lady of Kosrae may have been stirred to wake from her latent sleep when the excitement of over 100 participants from the four FSM States and abroad descended upon Kosrae to attend the 7th annual Micronesian Teacher Education Conference (MTEC) from July 18-21, 2016. Participants came near and from abroad denoting the presence of a governor, educators, consultants, congressmen, clergymen, and other stakeholders. Teachers from each of the FSM States have looked to the annual conference as a forum to network with their peers in their professions and share new ideas to enhance their ability to improve teaching and learning for themselves and the students they serve. For some, they were simply there to observe the beautiful landscapes and curvatures of the Sleeping Lady just to be enthralled with nature’s magnificence in repose.
The first MTEC was held in Pohnpei at the COM-FSM goodwill gym in June of 2009, which was subsequently hosted by Kosrae, Yap, and Chuuk. Although, all the four States have had the opportunity to host this important event, Pohnpei and Kosrae were the only States to host at least twice.
The MTEC is an annual conference that is hosted by each of the four Departments of Education on a rotational basis. Originally, Yap DOE was offered the opportunity to host this year’s MTEC which was then reverted to take place in the State of Kosrae after a presidential state of emergency was then declared for the State of Yap and the rest of the FSM States when rainfall became alarmingly too scarce as a causal effect of the dry spell of climate change in the FSM.
Once again, the State of Kosrae has humbly accepted the honor to host the 7th MTEC in 2016 shortly after it was later reverted from the State of Yap as a consequence of the President Peter M. Christian declared a state of emergency for the FSM States when rainfall became alarmingly low. As if to make amends for forfeiting the opportunity to host the event, Director Teresa Filepen of Yap DOE has officially announced at a FACCSO informative assembly that Yap State will host the next awaited MTEC 2017.
Although Kosrae DOE is the main host of MTEC 2016, it is the warm and hospital community members of Lelu in Kosrae who lend so much of their time, resources, and locality to make this year’ event a successful and memorable experience. Apparently, the credit could not be restricted to one particular individual or group, but to everyone who has contributed in small and big measures; such individuals too deserved to be given recognition and acknowledgement for their contributions. Outstanding community leaders like Mr. Eterny Edwin, the principal of Lelu Elementary School, and Mayor Ben Jesse, Lelu Town Government, and Lelu Elementary School students, just to name a few. In addition, much mention and gratitude is called for the leadership of Kosrae as follows: Honorable Lyndon H. Jackson, Dr. Tulensru E. Waguk, Director of Education, Mr. Robert A. Jonas, Chairman of Korsae State Education Advisory Board, Mixon Jonas, Chairman of MTEC Planning Committee, Acting Chief Justice, Chang B. William, and Tulensa W. Palik, Speaker of the 11th Kosrae State Legislature.
The venue for this year’s MTEC 2016 was at the newly constructed Lelu Elementary School building. There were lot of rooms on the upper floor to accommodate the presenters to do their presentations. While some rooms were reserved on the lower floor for exhibitions and food preparation quarters. A stage replicating the beauty of Nan Madol ruins also was constructed for key note speakers to send of their inspiring messages and entertainers to and entertainers to dazzle the crowd with their crafts, songs, and dances. The conference participants had good reasons to be awaken and on their feet. The three days of MTEC have something for everyone to take home from day one to the last day.
Abiding by the MTEC theme: “Navigating together toward a common destiny.” Insights on points of navigating to a common destiny were shared by each of the key note speakers. One, Mr.Spencer, a research specialist at REL Pacific research alliance advised that we (teachers) do not have to make big changes to make a change for the better or yield positive results. But, small changes in one’s life or routine can have such an impact in our growth and progress so long as they are done consistently. However, he cautioned to teachers that with one even with one degree off the mark would distant you from your final destination. Educators have to be consistent in their work. We ought to learn to adjust the sail, not the wind to reach our destinations.
Another key note speaker, Dr.Richard Seder contended that educators in the FSM have the power, knowledge, and skills to bring about change. He cited the works of the famous Micronesian navigator, Mau Piailug as a shining example for Micronesians who possess the gift and ability to empower change in others. He stressed the importance of sharing local knowledge (technology), wisdom, skills, and arts to promote higher levels of teaching and learning within and outside our spheres of influence. Dr. Ceder cited the accomplishments of the famous master navigator, Mau Piailug of Satawal, Micronesia’s very own. Without sharing his knowledge and skills, there would not have been a revitalization in navigation in the Polynesian world as it is now known in Hawaii or the Polynesian communities. Dr. Seder reminded all the importance of using local wisdom and technology to navigate in resolving the current and future challenges. “We need to just believe in the collective wisdom of people, group, or educators in FSM. The solutions reside within ourselves,”
Dr. Seder reiterated in his closing statements.
Mau is credited for his many astonishing accomplishments, but most noted for revitalizing the art of navigation in the Polynesian world. In fact, without his self-less desire to teach and share his greatness as a navigator, the famous Hokule’a journeys in the Pacific would never have been possible. Seder encouraged FSM educators to believe in themselves as they face tomorrow’s challenges.
The Secretary of the Department of Education, the honorable Kalwin Kephas also shared his insights on the importance of staying committed to what we do as educators and loving to do what we do as educators. His message is reiterated in a short story about a skipper who had an endless fire of enthusiasm to keep his boat engine sparkling to trawl all over the swells of rivers in his path somewhere in the U.S. country riverbanks.
For classroom instruction, the MTEC participants were treated to sit in more than 30 presentations on varies topics related to teaching and learning. While many presentations were digested readily in body and mind; perhaps, the major treat of the event could be single out to recount the best high lights of the cultural presentations and activities that were shared by the States entities and NDOE. The Pohnpei delegation stole the show with their dancing-feet rendition of the “modern bus stop” dance. People were bursting with laughter as they witnessed the group of Pohnpei DOE dancers, males and females alike kick up the dust to their heels as they danced to end the light of day for the evening.
All in all, the MTEC was; indeed, a considerable success. Just how often do we find able and bright minds from all walks of in the FSM and abroad convene and greatly enjoy the opportunity to meet and navigate together for a common end? At MTEC conferences, people come together to weave a tapestry for education not for one, but an education for all.