Technical Assistance
An Agency Supervisor's Viewpoint
Interview with Youser Anson
by Elizabeth Caraker

In the past five years, the Pohnpei State Tourist Commission has requested and received four technical assistants (TAs) from the Micronesia and South Pacific Program. The major purpose of the commission is to promote Pohnpei as a tourist destination. Although each of the projects defined in the commissions requests for assistance have been oriented toward promotion and marketing, the commission benefited from the assignments by acquiring a wide variety of skills over the years.
Youser Anson, executive director of the tourist commission and supervisor to each of the TAs, requested technical assistance with skills he felt were lacking in his office, designing projects around areas that needed improvement. For each project Youser selected the member of hisstaff whose skills would benefit the most from working with the technical assistant.
From his experience Youser thinks the best TA-counterpart team is created when participants spend more than twenty hours a week together. In order to build a solid relationship, the TA and counterpart need to learn about each others cultural differences, thought processes, and work habits. Youser believes the relationship that develops between team members fosters an environment of confidence and motivation that leads to successful skills transfer and project results.
Tourist commission staff members continue to use and develop the skills they acquired from the TAs. Practical skills, such as computer processing, designing and updating brochures, and customer service, seem to transfer most successfully. In 1993 one TA created a site development plan to which Youser regularly refers for prioritizing site development and designing annual budgets.
Youser has seen his office mature and develop during his four-year term as executive director. Much of this progress he attributes to the presence of the TAs, who have provided fresh perspectives. They open our eyes to what we are doing, he says. Each member of his office staff has had the opportunity to work with a TA, and Youser claims that the transferred skills have increased the offices overall ability to serve its main objective: providing services to the visitor.

Elizabeth Caraker recently received her masters degree in community and regional planning from the University of Oregon. She headed a team of three technical assistants who worked on a land use planning project in Pohnpei. Elizabeth resides in Pohnpei, where she continues her work for the MSPP.