The real story of how the Micronesia and South Pacific program got started.

Oregon's Micronesia and South Pacific Program began back in 1948, as a dream in a young girl's mind. The catalyst was a book by the famous author from Hawaii, Armine von Tempski. The book, which has recently been reprinted, was Judy of the Islands. The dreamer was Maradel Krummel, who spent the dark, rainy winters of her Seattle childhood reading books about faraway places. This particular book made a deep impression on her, particularly its concern about the well-being of the original inhabitants of the many islands scattered throughout the Pacific.

Fast forward to a time many years later, when the girl, now a professor at the University of Oregon, took her first sabbatical in 1984 to the islands of the south Pacific. Curious to see for herself what these islands were really like, Maradel visited French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, the Samoas, Tonga, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia. On this trip, she studied a wide range of topics, including environmental protection, women's issues and education. During this time she developed the idea of a program which would place advanced graduate students in the islands at the request of people there who wanted technical assistance with a particular project. The concept was designed around an earlier experience with a Ford Foundation program which funded graduate students to accompany faculty to international sites in order to learn how to conduct research in a cross-cultural setting.

Returning to the U.S. after six months, Maradel began seeking support for her idea by visiting agencies in New York and Washington, D.C. It was during these visits that she became familiar with the myriad of agencies and organizations working in the international arena. She also met Phil DeLongchamps of the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Territorial and International Affairs (OTIA). While encouraging about the basic concept, Phil wanted more information about how the projects would be dev eloped, the students selected, and the work evaluated.

The first trip to Micronesia occurred in 1988, when Maradel self-funded a graduate student, John Haakanson, to accompany her on an exploratory trip to Pohnpei, Yap and Palau. Early in this trip, while meeting with many organizations in the FSM and Pohnpei State governments, Maradel was recruited by the Peace Corps to be the training director for the 1988 Yap training project. After finishing the work they had come to do on setting up the Oregon program, John returned to Oregon, and Maradel went to Yap f or three months.

Designing and delivering the Peace Corps training in community development and cross-cultural adjustment provided a framework for later training programs for MSPP technical assistants. Living in a small village on the main island of Yap and working with Yapese staff members provided Maradel with an understanding of the situations likely to be encountered by future TAs.

The U.S. Information Agency provided the first funding for a technical assistance project in the form of support for an assessment of the various libraries in Micronesia. Mary Ann Lund Goodwin was the first TA to represent the program as she traveled throughout Micronesia surveying the status of the twenty-plus libraries she found there. Both OTIA and USIA provided subsequent funding to continue the library development program, which remains a part of MSPP's mission today.

The first "crop" of TAs, a group of ten, were placed on the islands of Palau, Pohnpei and Majuro in June of 1990. From their experiences, the program and the training were refined and revised. In 1991, ten more advanced graduate students were placed in the islands. In 1992, Kosrae was added and that year a total of twelve technical assistants were placed with government agencies. A big growth spurt came in 1993, when American Samoa was included in the placements, and eighteen technical assistants were placed on the islands.

This, then, is the story of the beginning of a unique and exciting program that has become the Micronesia and South Pacific Program of the University of Oregon. It is also the story of a dream come true -- a dream that began in childhood and was fulfilled as an adult.

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Micronesia and South Pacific Program
5244 University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403 USA
(541) 346-3815; FAX (541) 346-2040

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