Imagine a sovereign country, a full voting member of the United Nations, whose citizens speak a dozen distinct languages, but which uses English as its official language and the U.S. dollar as its currency. Citizens of this nationality can enter the United States at any time, as often as they wish, and stay however long they wish, whether employed or not.
If they visit Tucson they can send an airmail letter home with a “Forever” stamp as though they were mailing it to Phoenix (or Vail). This nation has airports, a naval installation for patrolling its one million square miles of ocean…and approximately 30 miles of paved roads. This is the island nation called the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). It consists of some 600 islands and atolls with a total land area slightly greater than the City of Tucson and a population one-fifth that of Tucson.
The special relationship of the FSM to the U.S. was established in 1986 by a document called the Compact of Free Association. Critics cite it as a vestige of colonial imperialism that has led to degradation of a culture; proponents praise its clever blend of benevolence and mutual strategic advantage. Perhaps both camps agree with the American writer who deemed FSM “The Edge of Paradise.”
On Wednesday (March 25) Mia Neidhardt will relate her experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer for the past two years in the FSM. Her talk, free and open to the public, will begin at 3:30 p.m. in the Great Room of the Arizona Senior Academy.
Neidhardt majored in Economics and Spanish at Kenyon College, graduating magna cum laude in 2012. She is currently a graduate student in Public Administration at the University of Washington in Seattle, supported by funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Written by Fred Neidhardt, Academy Village Volunteer