As far as safety and security issues go, Micronesia is a very safe place to be serving with the Peace Corps. One of our recently covered security issues, though, is too fascinating to not share. Night crawling is the process by which courting occurs in Micronesia. Traditionally, dating is completely forbidden. In lieu, men “night crawl” the women. Basically, this entails them going to the prospect’s house at night and waking them up to “go frolic in the forest”. Because this is such a forbidden thing, there is a lot of shame involved (for the guy) if family members find out. The easiest way to get a night crawler to leave is to yell at them to leave, and if necessary, get your nohno. She will happily beat him away with a broom (this actually happened to one of the current volunteers).
M78’s Peace Corps region is made up of 5 completely different placement sites. Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Chuk are 3 of the 4 Federated States of Micronesia. Each state has its own distinct traditions and culture. In our group, there are 2 different kinds of Chuk placements- outer islands and lagoon islands. Palau, although a separate country, is also part of our region. For the past couple of weeks, all of us M78s have been extremely nervous (but excited) to receive our site placements.
Well, placement announcements have finally come and gone. As of August 14th(ish) I’ll be living in Kosrae (ko-SHRY), “Island of the Sleeping Lady”. According to legend, women that live near the head of the Sleeping Lady have the longest and most beautiful hair. Likewise, women that live near the Sleeping Lady’s chest are said to have the nicest busts, and the women that live near the legs/feet of the Sleeping Lady are the fastest women on the island. For inquiring minds, I’ll be living at the feet. From what I hear, Kosrae is very matriarchic. In Kosrae, women do a lot of the fishing, and they even night crawl more than men! Kosrae is also the most religious of all the Micronesian states (Kosraeans go upwards of 4 times a week). My host father is even a minister! I’ll definitely go to church the first couple of weeks and then play it by ear. Who knows, it could be a really great way to get in with the community. I’ll be working at an elementary school in the capital city, Lelu, with 6th and 8th graders. Contrary to Pohnpei, Kosrae has a plethora of citrus fruit and sandy beaches- 2 things I am very much looking forward to! Language training starts Monday, so wish me luck!