Habele offers Leadership, Exchange, and Academic Development program

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July 20, 2016
Yap, FSM—Habele’s “LEAD,” or Leadership, Exchange, and Academic Development, is an intensive summer program for Habele scholars with strong potential for future leadership.
Based on the traditional “host family” model, this innovative program fosters cultural, social and intellectual exchanges between Micronesian students and their American peers. The novel, multilateral approach to developing mutual understanding and cooperation imbues participating scholars with increased perspective and capacity to drive sustainable regional development in Micronesia.
Bertha Hathomar, the 2016 LEAD scholar, is a native to a remote, underserved community in the Outer Islands of Yap State, Micronesia. Following the destruction wrought by Super Typhoon Maysak in 2015, the educationally displaced student received a Habele Tuition Scholarship to attend a prestigious private school in the district capital of Yap. While living with a Yapese host family, Bertha demonstrated tremendous academic focus and ability, earning high marks in all courses of study.
That Habele Tuition Scholarship provided an initial springboard for Bertha’s pursuit of greater social and academic horizons. Through LEAD, she accessed studies and cultural exchanges rarely available to socially vulnerable Outer Island women, spending two months living in the American state of South Carolina.


habele 02Formal instruction included courses in filmmaking and cooking and nutrition at the Honors College of the University of South Carolina. Further academic enterprises included preparation for college entrance exams, and visits to local colleges and universities. Additionally, Bertha enrolled in a variety of arts and crafts workshops provided by the Columbia Museum of Art. While maintaining a full schedule of classes, Bertha made time for guitar lessons, karate classes, and even a dog-training course.
Artistic and cultural exchange played a prominent role in the experience, with the Habele scholar attending a variety of musical concerts, community theater productions, and visiting some of the nation’s premiere museums. These opportunities were complemented by regular participation in the day-to-day lives and social activities of a diverse group of American families.
Leadership development was a consistent theme of the LEAD program. Bertha interacted with local and national leaders, including Katrina Shealy, an accomplished female State Senator from South Carolina who consistently advocates for vulnerable communities. She also met Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, American Samoa’s delegate to the United States Congress, and a voice for the international development of democratic institutions. During a trip to Washington, DC, Bertha visited the Federated States of Micronesia’s Embassy, meeting with officials from her national government.
Established by former Peace Corps volunteers, Habele is a US based nonprofit, advancing educational access and accomplishment in Micronesian communities since 2006. In addition to tuition scholarships and exchange programs, Habele provides targeted support for schools, libraries and innovative extracurricular programs.