Tuesday, June 9, 2009

you're going where?

OK. Pick a spot about halfway between Hawaii and Australia in the Pacific (about 8 degrees north of the equator). Take a solid piece of coral about the size of Washington DC (70 sq. miles). Break it up into 1225 islands (34 are inhabited) and sprinkle it over 1 ½ times the size of Texas (375,000 sq. miles of ocean). Add a year-round tropical marine climate that ranges from about 75-92 F with a sweltering 84% humidity year round. That's the Marshall Islands.

I'm taking a year-long leave of absence from Brandeis and volunteering as a teacher of English through WorldTeach. I've been assigned to Gugegwe on Kwajalein Atoll: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=ebeye,+marshall+islands&sll=33.858329,-118.350195&sspn=0.008874,0.018861&ie=UTF8&ll=8.84781,167.743592&spn=0.005279,0.009431&t=h&z=17

Gugegwe is pronounced "goo-jee-goo," with hard "g"s like "Greg" on both ends and a soft "g" like "George" in the middle. It's 5 miles away from Ebeye (one of the most densely populated place on the planet, where most of my students live). I'll be teaching high school English, living in faculty housing on the high school campus. I'm told I have intermittent electricity, and 3 rainbarrels out back, so I should have water. No way to tell how often I'll be able to email or blog, but snailmail works. My address in RMI will be:
c/o Kwajalein Atoll High School
P.O. Box 5129
Ebeye, MH 96970
Republic of the Marshall Islands

It's the US mail system, so it goes at US rates!

I read today in the blog of a friend (Alison Courchesne) that the neighboring island "Ebeye was originally called Ebje, which is Marshallese for “your canoe will tip over trying to get there,” but due to a spelling error reminiscent of Ellis Island, it was mistakenly named Ebeye on an American map and the error became permanent."

I hope to be in touch during the year. . . Off I go! Wheels up on Sunday morning, July 19.