It's a radical change in environment and location this summer as the University of Maine Fort Kent hosts two cohorts of Pacific Island students who have traveled more than 7,000 miles to receive training as nurses and teachers from the fastest growing university in Maine.
The first cohort comprises twenty-six nurses from the Marshall Islands and Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The islands are thousands of miles southwest of Hawaii, closer to Australia than California.
The nursing students are living on the UMFK campus for four weeks as they take nursing courses in holistic health assessment, health related research, and healthcare policy.
The second cohort comprises elementary and high school teachers from various islands of the Marshall Islands. This group will arrive in July and also live on campus for a total of four weeks. Each of the teachers is working with Maine's northern-most university towards a bachelor of science in secondary education with concentration in math and science.
The students have full access to campus resources, from dormitories to the library, and the men and women are also taking advantage of the opportunity to explore the unique culture of the St. John Valley. The community of Fort Kent are accustomed to students from all across the world coming to this French Acadian region, have welcomed the Pacific Island students with the typical good cheer and helpful nature of the people in Northern Maine.
“Although the weather is very cold for them, the students have been very impressed with the surroundings especially the kind and welcoming reception they've received from the Fort Kent community” said UMFK Dean Sablan-Zebedy. “More than one student informed me that the people are friendly, the staff welcomes us, and the instructors are great --- everyone is willing to help.”
The program is a partnership with the Marshall Islands' Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Scholarship Board and Office whose aim is to develop and build local human resource capacity in the small island nation.
For more information on UMFK and the many programs it offers, please visit https://www.umfk.edu/