Per its Web site on the Marshall Islands Teaching Program, Dartmouth College has been dispatching teacher volunteers to the Marshall Islands since year 2000. This year, as in the past many, the Director for that program, Professor Andrew Garrod, and the Dartmouth students, again organized Marshallese high school students and community volunteers to again present a play for the community, this time Fiddler On The Roof. By all reports in the MI Journal, it was a huge success, as these plays always are.
Sadly, however, this may be the final play. Professor Garrod is reported to have advised the RMI Government this will be the final year of the Dartmouth program in the Marshall Islands, due to "liability concerns." No program means no volunteer teachers sponsored by Dartmouth and likely no return of Professor Garrod (unless a significant new funding source is established) to organize the annual play.
Here are some thoughts for consideration:
[*] Minister OF Education Hilda Jetnil is quoted by Journal as planning to contact Dartmouth to ask them to continue the program.
[*] The Dartmouth College Facebook page for the program, though still on line, has had no news postings since September 2013. This is not a good sign, since there is not one comment about or photo from Fiddler.
[*] The Dartmouth College Web site for the program is still up but advises on home page that no applications for participation are being accepted at this time. Most of the links, including for making donations to support, have been deactivated (meaning, unless changed, Dartmouth is not going to assist in seeking funds for a return by Professor Garrod).
[*] No one, based on reports, has asked Dartmouth the obvious question -- What has changed? From 2000 - 2014, if there were liability concerns, they were not serious enough to stop or hinder this program. Now, for 2015 and beyond, we are told liability issues are preventing the program's continuance. So, again, what changed? Isn't anyone going to ask Dartmouth? If the RMI Government knows what changed, perhaps the issue can be successfully addressed, so that the program can continue.
[*] I wish Minister Jetnil all luck in getting Dartmouth to reverse its decision but unless the RMI Government does what it can to address whatever is causing the liability concern, I hold out little hope for success.
[*] Will Dartmouth's decision impact World Teach? I suspect the Director of World Teach (or the program lawyer) is trying to learn what caused Dartmouth to pull out. This has to be a concern. If World Teach continues, and something does happen that tracks to whatever concern caused Dartmouth to end its program, the potential legal initiative in response by a parent or volunteer impacted is obvious.
[*] Finally, if Dartmouth and Professor Garrod do not return, does that mean the annual high school plays must end with them? Thousands of US high schools, large and small, produce and present annual high school plays without an Ivy League professor at the helm. After all these years, there are many Marshallese who are familiar with process for organizing, producing and presenting a high school play. If the community chooses to not have a play in 2015, do not blame Dartmouth.
Edited by pettittm on Mar 16, 2014 - 07:15 AM.
“I hope the signing of the LUA (Land Use Agreement) allows the Government of the Marshall Islands more time to focus on the biggest issues it faces – how to raise the level of education and health of the Marshallese people and how to create an economy that will be stable after direct US funding ends in 2023.”
US Ambassador to the Marshall Islands Martha Campbell, as quoted by MI Journal, 13 May 2011, pg 4
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