FSM to join elite United World College system

Giff Johnson
Majuro — The Federated States of Micronesia expects to become only the third Pacific island nation to join the United World College, a global educational program that emphasizes student diversity at its 16 member schools.
The Marshall Islands and Fiji are the other UWC members in the Pacific.
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is in the process of establishing its first FSM National Committee to oversee its membership in UWC and selection of students who will receive scholarships to study overseas. “We should be awarding our first scholarship in late 2017,” said Tamara Greenstone-Alefaio, the Marshall Islands UWC National Coordinator, who is advising the FSM committee on its establishment.
Greenstone-Alefaio, who assisted the Marshall Islands to establish its UWC program that is now in its sixth year, is now based in Pohnpei, where she is working with the Micronesia Conservation Trust.
Marshall Islands students are currently studying at United World College high schools in England, China, Singapore, Germany, and Hong Kong — with a scholarship available for a Marshall Islander to study at UWC’s newly opened school in Japan for the school year starting in August 2017. Over the past five years, other Marshall Islands students have graduated from UWC schools in Canada, the United States and Germany. Since it gained membership, the Marshall Islands has received from one to three scholarship awards per year.
The Marshall Islands UWC National Committee is chaired by Dr. Irene Taafaki, director of the University of the South Pacific Campus in Majuro.
With its focus on student diversity, the student bodies of all 16 UWC affiliated schools look like mini- United Nations, with dozens of nations represented by students. “Diversity encapsulates the experience of every student in every college,” the UWC mission statement says.
Greenstone-Alefaio returned to Pohnpei this week after attending the annual UWC congress in Italy. “Climate change, increasing global inequality, and conflict and persecution are displacing more people than ever before,” said a briefing for the annual congress. “These are just a few of the challenges we face in 2016. The role of the UWC movement is more relevant than ever, and together we want to be an even stronger force for peace and a sustainable future.”
Although the Pacific island area is under-represented in the UWC system with only two countries being members, awareness about the Pacific was increased through Greenstone- Alefaio’s presentations at the UWC congress in Italy. Several hundred people attended the meetings.
At the Congress, Alefaio facilitated a session for the Asia-Pacific region discussion on the new UWC Strategic Plan and “presented on the Marshall Islands National Committee and how we support our students,” she said.
Greenstone-Alefaio is uniquely placed to be assisting the FSM to establish its national committee so it can meet the requirements of membership in the UWC system. She is a member of the Committee of National Committees, which is a body of national committee representatives who are responsible for taking the recommendations, requests and needs of the national committees to the UWC International Office.”