Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Aquarium of the Pacific: A Photo Essay

During the first weekend of August, my family and I took a day trip to the Long Beach Aquarium (alternately titled the Aquarium of the Pacific). Although it's obviously nowhere near as cool as "being there," I was very pleased by the amount of FSM/Palau flora, fauna & facts the Aquarium had on display. Here are a few of my favorite moments (all photos credited to the kind & generous Kathy Wright):

The first section of the museum we discovered was the "Tropical Pacific" Gallery--16 exhibits dedicated solely to the "beautiful marine life you would find off the coast of Palau" (AoP website). Here's the map to one side of the entrance:

And a close up of the expanse between Palau (in the west/left) & FSM (Kosrae is furthest east/right):

I learned something about Palau's Rocky Emerald Isles:

And got a glimpse of Nemo! (The photo taken of my brother & me in front of the "Baby Clownfish" filled mom with glee):

The biggest exhibit was a replication of Palau's Blue Corner -- a reef shelf noted for its beauty & its diverse sealife. We saw a diver demonstration with experts who had been to the real Blue Corner; they said it was the best in the world for variety!

But my favorite representation of FSM/Palau is from this map (found in the colorful, chirpy bird section of the Aquarium). As you can see, it is a map of the neighborhood, with other countries represented as land masses, but FSM/Palua represented as a sea monster. Awesome!

So in lieu of something new, I just thought I'd post something interesting/fun. Now I'm off to the beach--(un)fortunately my present corner of the Pacific doesn't look anything like this. No sea monsters of any sort.


Sunday, August 2, 2009


I'm joining the Peace Corps and you're coming with me!

What has passed:

I began my Peace Corps application around Thanksgiving 2008 , so I suppose that is where this journey starts. But if you really want to get down to it, I've been thinking about doing something like this for years--most vividly since my trips to the Philippines and Costa Rica in 2007. Likely before then as well. But one can't roam the world do-gooding without an education, so I didn't pursue these ponderings until this past year, my senior year at Harvard College (school friends will note this blog's web address is a loving homage to my dearly departed college email address,

After submitting my app in November, I interviewed with the recruiter in December and accepted my nomination for the Pacific Islands in January (that means the recruiter/nominator gives me the go ahead for an array of countries/assignments in that region, and then sends me along to the placement office to get further processed & approved). Then I had to jump through all the medical and legal hoops necessary to join any well meaning bureaucracy, which took the rest of spring -- until after graduation! Thankfully, in late June I was officially invited to serve as an ESL & Community Development Volunteer in FSM & Palau, departing in September.

I was so excited that I promptly put off doing any of the preliminary acceptance paperwork in order to go on a road trip in the Midwest with a friend from school. Then I arrived home, turned 22, and found myself facing a whole lot of to-do lists before group staging & departure on September 2. It's exciting and nerve wracking in a way that can't possibly be adequately captured in blog form, so I will leave my precise day-to-day activities up to the imaginations of my dear readers (hint: I'm doing a lot of novel reading, T.V. watching & Mexican food eating; it has been a lovely summer).

What is yet to come:

I leave for staging in LA on September 2, where I will meet the other volunteers in my class and say goodbye to America for two years! Then we fly together to Hawaii on September 3, and onto Pohnpei (the capitol of Micronesia) on September 4. In the interim we will cross the international dateline, so I have no idea what day/time it will be once we get there.

It looks like we will all be together for a preliminary orientation for the first two weeks, and then we will receive our site assignments and adjourn to smaller groups in local capitols for the rest of the 2-3 months of training. I'll be sent to my 2-year solo site-to-be-named-later in November. Once we arrive in-country we will be staying with host families. So although I will be with dwindling numbers of Americans as my time progresses, I will always have island relatives to look out for me.

An important note for you, my friends:

The point of the blog is twofold: to entertain and to keep in touch. However, I won't be traveling with my computer AND I won't necessarily have frequent internet access. But the mail works. So it's a very real possibility that I'll be sending "blog" letters to my mom, who will painstakingly transcribe every word for you, the great electronic audience.

But snail mail will be the best way to stay in touch with me. In fact, since FSM & Palau were recently US territories, the cost of sending letters or packages is pretty similar to doing so in the US. So that means you should

a) send me mail (this will be my address for the first two weeks at least):

Mollie Wright, Peace Corps Trainee
Peace Corps/Micronesia
PO Box 9
Kolonia, Pohnpei, FM 96941

b) send me your mailing address! If you're not sure where you will be living, send me backup mailing addresses or addresses for family who can forward letters to you.

I'll have email access for the next month, and I will be compiling my contact information in an address book during that time. If you don't email me your mailing address, feel free to send mail straight along to my Micronesia mailing address with your return address clearly written.

So to sum up, I'm going away for 27 months and I'd like to keep in touch with you!

Much love!