The Words of the Treacy Family

Micronesian Island of Pohnpei welcomes UPF Character Education Training

Michael Treacy
November 16, 2006
Director, UPF-Micronesia
Pohnpei, Micronesia

A highly successful 3-day Character Education and Life Skills Teacher Training Workshop was held in Pohnpei, Micronesia, involving 37 teachers, several Department of Education representatives, seven student leaders, community and traditional leaders. Altogether, 49 participants assembled for this UPF-sponsored workshop presented by Mr. Alan Saunders.

The workshop, held at the Sea Breeze Hotel Conference Room in downtown Kolonia, was a first for UPF-Micronesia, made possible by several key factors:

The publication of the 12-part series of character education textbooks "Discovering the Real Me," as a starting point for the introduction of Character Education into the school system in Micronesia. In a pre-conference meeting, the teachers and staff of the Department of Education were impressed by the quality and broad appeal of these publications.

The support of Iso Salvador Iriarte, a high Traditional Leader and Ambassador for Peace, who opened the way by introducing this program to the Education Department.

The cooperation of UPF International in sending Mr. Saunders to Pohnpei.

Local funding support through workshop donations and regional resources.

On the first day of the workshop, there seemed to be a feeling of not knowing what to expect. However, Mr. Saunders clarified the unique universal appeal of this program and explained that it could be adapted to any cultural or language setting in any community. From this point on, the teachers developed a growing interest and enthusiasm for the program. Interactive live presentations of the main content alternated with video presentations of other speakers addressing issues of love and relationships. There were many opportunities for teachers to interact with each other and discuss aspects of the "Discovering the Real Me" series and how it can be applied to their lives in their community.

Teachers and other key education staff members were able to reorganize their busy schedules to attend most sessions of the program, which took place during a normal school week. Both high school and elementary school teachers attended, joined by participants from the Pohnpei Health Department, National Education Counselors, and students from several student body organizations. Without exception, they concluded that the character education program should be introduced into all schools, especially at the high school level.

The program concluded with heartfelt thanks to the presenter, Mr. Alan Saunders, and the workshop staff, Michael and Beth Treacy. A follow-up meeting with the Director of Education and about 20 staff members focused on implementation of the program. As a beginning point, the director suggested giving a presentation to the High School Parent Teacher Association, which represents over a thousand parents. Character education requires teamwork with parents, teachers and community involvement. Through the Traditional Leaders, UPF-Micronesia members will seek to present character education at the community level in Pohnpei.

Character education is lacking in most societies and sadly lacking in the school curriculum. UPF-Micronesia is now addressing this need to educate young citizens to become leaders of good character for the future.

Excerpts from teachers' comments:

"I really enjoyed the workshop, especially when we go into the stories and try to relate [them] to our culture or real life situations in Pohnpei. Handouts and presentations were excellent."
Emrick Lebehn

 "UPF should come in with a stronger force from now on as we [continue to] build on Character Education throughout the State."
Reynald Albert (Acting Director of Education)

"Everyone on this Island should take this workshop."
Beaumina Soswa

"I would like to see the program spread throughout the Federated States of Micronesia to reach all families."
Mayumi Albert

"It would be nice to have more people on this Island take this workshop to reawaken them to real and challenging issues in our society today."
Antolin Gomez

Excerpts from students' comments:

"You are doing a very good job. Be strong and keep delivering your excellent thoughts."
Darwin Shelten

"No word is enough to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation." (Concerning Character Education:) "I now realize that it is the portion of my life that I have been missing."
John Ryan Johnson

"I have never attended a workshop so meaningful and helpful. This has been the best so far. This workshop couldn’t get any better than this. We are very fortunate to be a part of it! Thank you for this priceless opportunity!"
Jasmine Mendiola

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