The other day we were surprised to hear that the US Ambassador to FSM (Federated States of Micronesia) was on island. The US Ambassador to FSM is Doria Rosen, a 25+ year employee of the US Foreign Service. Her office is in Kolonia, Pohnpei (not to be confused with Colonia in Yap) so trips to Yap occur but not necessarily often. She was on her way to one of the outer islands (Ulithi) for a high school graduation. The only way to get to Ulithi and the outer islands is through Yap. So she was on island for a few days before her flight through PMA (Pacific Missionary Aviation – check out my opportunity to fly around Yap on a PMA flight last year) to Ulithi. We also found out that the FSM coast guard boat that arrived on island the day before was due to a combination of her visit and a decent size earthquake near Palau that produced some small tsunami concerns for Yap (nothing happened though). Although the Ambassador’s time was tight there was a 2-3 hour time block in the evening where she was open to meet with any Americans on the island to relay information or hear any concerns or questions.
We met her in the courtyard of O’Keefe’s Waterfront Inn and enjoyed a fairly lengthy conversation. She briefly reflected on her experience so far, provided her perspective on challenges facing FSM (from education to the Compact of Free Association) and the discussed the benefits (and challenges) of pursuing a career in the US Foreign Service. Ambassador Rosen is a very engaging speaker. You can certainly tell that in 2 years (which may seem like a long time, but if you factor in how things work in FSM, it isn’t long at all) she has a good pulse on the challenges and needs of FSM. Over the years I’ve been coming to Yap (and Kosrae) we have definitely seen our share of foreigners (Americans and others) that think they know what is best for Yap (or FSM). They try to push their agenda and surprisingly become very frustrated when they realize Yap does not work like the rest of the world. It is almost like FSM is an independent country and each state has its own unique culture (Note: I am being completely sarcastic in that last line). Near the end of our conversation the Ambassador provided an excellent sales pitch (and I think some of our students were certainly interested) around joining the Foreign Service.
Overall, it was quite an experience.