By: Tess Hart
Tess Hart, an IPED Arrupe Fellow, was awarded the Santander International Internships Fellowship to spend part of the summer in Chuuk, Micronesia working at the Chuuk Women’s Council (CWC). The CWC is an umbrella organization of 64 women’s groups across the state with over 1,000 total members. The mission of the organization is “to assist women in becoming more productive and self-sufficient members of our society through comprehensive programs which enhance the social, economic and physical well-being of women and their families in Chuuk.”
The Chuuk Women’s Council is currently implementing their Tongen Inepwinéú, Tongen Fénúwach (Love of the family, Love of Our Islands) Climate Change Adaptation through Family, Gardens, Food, and Health Project, which is being funded through the USAID Pacific American Climate Action Fund (PACAM). The program involves training and providing ongoing support for 45 home gardeners, maintaining 3 community nurseries, and developing and implementing a high school gardening curriculum. The program seeks to help participants improve food security through climate resilient gardening methods with a co-benefit of increasing access to nutritious food options.
Returning to the FSM having served as a Jesuit Volunteer in the region prior to attending IPED, Tess helped the CWC team prepare for their mid-term grant review. She worked with the Monitoring and Evaluation team and Project Coordinator to compile data and strengthen implementation methods. The review included visiting and interviewing home gardeners in the villages.
In addition to assisting with the PACAM project, Tess assisted the with several grant applications and helped with the preparation of summer curriculums for the CWC’s Summer Enrichment Program for second to fifth graders, which focuses improving reading, writing, and math skills while exploring the importance of the environment and the impacts of climate change. She also reviewed the CWC’s Young Women’s Empowerment Program and helped prepare the implementing team for compliance with AusAid. Moreover, while in Chuuk, Tess had the opportunity to utilize the Micronesian Seminar library, attend the Xavier High School Class of 2017 graduation, attend the inauguration of the governor of Chuuk, and meet with the ambassador of the United States to the FSM.
Tess is very grateful to the CWC for warmly welcoming her back to Chuuk and allowing her to be a part of their programs. Her advice for students considering applying for Santander funding or seeking a summer internship is to look for opportunities early, make the experience your own, and pursue an area in which you are passionate.