Building on the Achievements of Migrant Communities in the US

An amphibious Air Micronesia plane on the Pohnpei runway in 1969.

How can migrant Micronesian communities build on their successes?

First, continue to do what most migrant communities in the US seem to be doing so successfully. Develop an island community within the larger American community?not to exclude ties with other people in town but to offer support to one another.? I?ve attended birthday celebrations or christening parties that bring together nearly all the islanders in a place, and there are holiday picnics with sports events that draw islanders from hundreds of miles around.? Most successful communities have an authority figure of some kind to keep everyone in line and to introduce new migrant families to the community and explain what they have to do to get along in their new home.

Second, make sure you know where to get help when you need it.? Everyone should have the number for the FSM Embassy in Washington just in case something comes up.? Although the person nominated for FSM Ambassador to the US hasn?t been confirmed yet, James Naich ( is the Deputy Chief of Mission and Dominic Maluchmai ( is working with him as the First Secretary.? The phone number for the office is: (202) 223-4383.? Remember that the Embassy offers an information packet that can help make life easier for newly arrived islanders.? The information packet is available on their website: ?They can also offer assistance on visas, job opportunities, legal counsel, and other things.

Third, you should register with the FSM Embassy when you get to the US mainland?or do the same thing with the FSM Consular Office on Guam or in Hawaii if you?re headed in that direction. This could be critical if the FSM has important information it wants to share with its citizens.? Or so that the FSM can get back in touch with you if you find yourself caught in an emergency.? The US is a big country, so it helps the folks at the FSM Embassy to know where its scattered citizens are in a nation that has as much land as Micronesia has ocean.

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About the author

Francis X. Hezel, SJ
Francis X. Hezel, SJ

Francis X. Hezel, SJ, is a Jesuit priest who has lived and worked in Micronesia since 1963. At different times he has served as high school teacher, school administrator, pastor, and regional superior to the Jesuits of Micronesia. He spent thirty years directing the Micronesian Seminar, a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Pohnpei, Micronesia. He has written and spoken widely about social change and its impact on island societies. He has also written several books on Micronesian history, including The First Taint of Civilization, Strangers in Their Own Land, and The New Shape of Old Island Cultures. His most recent book, Making Sense of Micronesia: The Logic of Pacific Island Culture, is available through University of Hawaii Press.