As its name implies, Micronesia is one of the smallest countries in the world, but this is no reason for international volunteers to overlook this beautiful island nation in greater Oceania. Having just gained independence from the United States in 1986, Micronesia is still a fledgling state with rising prospects. Embarking to volunteer abroad in Micronesia can be a life changing experience where you are exposed to a diversity of landscapes, languages, and communities amidst this intricately multicultural archipelago.
The Federated States of Micronesia encompasses a chain of roughly 600 islands in the Western Pacific Ocean. While its total land area is very small, the Micronesian island chain stretches across nearly 2 thousand miles of open water in Oceania, making it functionally one of the largest sovereign territories in the world. The country is divided into four primary states (Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Yap), each with their own distinct geography and cultural heritage.
The total population of archipelago barely exceeds 100,000 citizens, so there aren’t many big cities where you can look to volunteer abroad in Micronesia. With nearly 7,000 inhabitants, Yap’s capital city of Colonia is an example of one of the most populated areas you might end up volunteering abroad. Other similarly sized cities such as Weno and Tofol can also be promising destinations where to look for volunteer placements in Micronesia.
The bulk of the population, however, continues to live in the country’s rural areas, so placements away from the cities are another popular way to volunteer abroad in Micronesia. Most Micronesians live simple lifestyles based largely on fishing and subsistence farming, and there are a variety of volunteer opportunities across the country where you might lend a hand in helping to improve their lot.
Projects & Placements
Micronesia continues to battle high levels of economic inequality within its population, and so many volunteer placements are concentrated in areas which contribute to human development in an effort to help minimize this gap. For example you might look to volunteer abroad in Micronesia within the fields of education or community development, where you can contribute to localized projects focused on each village’s or city’s specific needs.
Other areas you might look to volunteer abroad in Micronesia within include childcare and youth development. As many Micronesian families work full time and education is too often looked over, volunteering with the country’s youth is a valuable way to help expose them to different cultures and set them up for future success in a globalizing world.
While a variety of native languages are spoken within each state (i.e. Chuukese, Kosraean, Pohnpeian, and Yapese), English is the common tongue across the country, so you do not have to worry about a language barrier getting in the way between you and your work while you volunteer abroad in Micronesia. Volunteer placements in Micronesia are usually available year-round and can last anywhere from several weeks to a full year, depending on individual circumstances.
Costs & Affordability
Micronesia is an affordable country where to live abroad for most, so the toll on your wallet stemming from on-the-ground costs should not be of too major a concern. Program fees can still be expensive though, encompassing costs such as housing, meals, and transportation, so it might be a good idea to check out our fundraising page to learn about ways you can start covering the costs of your volunteer trip.
Accommodation & Visas
Most often you will be living either in a homestay or in a group housing situation while your volunteer abroad in Micronesia. While you can expect to be made comfortable throughout the duration of your project, also know that living conditions will be fairly basic, so certain luxuries such as hot water, internet, and air conditioning may not always be accounted for. It’s all part of the value of the experience!
Whether or not you will need a visa to volunteer abroad in Micronesia depends on the duration of your program and the home country that you are travelling from. Citizens of the United States, for example, typically need not obtain a visa, while citizens of most other countries can typically secure the proper documentation upon arrival. For more information regarding your individual circumstances, check out our Micronesian Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Island Life. Volunteering abroad in Micronesia is the perfect way to experience the laidback lifestyle of the Pacific Islands, while also immersing yourself into a local community and contributing your time to a valuable cause. It’s a win-win.
Just the Basics. Most of the Micronesian population lives on fishing and subsistence farming; coming from the overwhelmingly complex industrialized world, there are infinitely valuable lessons to be learned from the of this lifestyle.
Growth. While the purpose of volunteering is always to help others, you will be amazed by how much you grow personally while you volunteer abroad in Micronesia. The experience will truly change your outlook.