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February 2020
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Character Education

Character Education Changes Student Attitudes

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Group Activity“What I’ve experienced from this summer camp is that first, change yourself before you change others. I applied this [during the camp] and I changed the way I acted with my friends. I gave them respect, friendliness, leadership, and [an example of] responsibility.” This was how Myron, a ninth-grade student, described the two-week summer camp in Pohnpei, Micronesia.

The camp program began with a plenary session followed by class group meetings using selections from the Discovering the Real Me textbooks. Teachers led the lessons, with the assistance of peer counselors. Lunch, snacks and lots of water were provided every day.

“My best experience was the morning activities, because I learned so many things from the presentations. And I can go back home and teach my younger brothers and sisters so that we can live in a happy and responsible family,” reported Kevin, a tenth grade student.

After lunch, the students enjoyed sports, games, arts and crafts, or doing a service project until finishing time in the afternoon. Each day, we noticed the student numbers creeping up from 122 to 140 and more, as they told their friends about the activities, friendships and enjoyable time.

The students grew to love and appreciate the camp, some arriving early each morning, just as we were setting up the hall. Each day their enthusiasm would grow, their interest in the program would deepen and new friendships would be made.

The students’ attitudes changed a lot over the two weeks—from the usual self-interested attitude to a rising degree of self awareness and diligent investment in all the activities. The character education initiative gave the students a unifying focus for their lives and a more hopeful future for their personal situation.

Myron, an eighth grade student, reported: “I learned how to be a respectful student. I learned how to respect others as friends. I have to respect everyone in the world. I would like to treat others the way I want to be treated. I learned how to be honest with people, and how to keep away from bad things [influences].”

One afternoon was devoted to service projects. The students cleaned and beautified the school sign, repaired toilets, cleaned and painted men’s and ladies’ bathrooms, repainted the principal’s office and collected trash from one end of the town of Kolonia to the other. This brought a new sense of pride in the school and also a feeling of responsibility for the environment. The students felt happy to actualize what they had learnt about becoming a good citizen. They felt a sense of value in making a personal contribution to good causes.

Mr. Alan Saunders and Mrs. Poppy Richie from the US led the training and summer camp, with the support of peer educators Morrow Willis from California and Eika Davis from the High School of the Pacific in Hawaii. The Treacy children and two other HSP students from Pohnpei, Ericka and Frannie Baker, were peer counselors.

We are grateful to our Ambassador for Peace, Iso Salvador Iriarte, and Mr. Reynold Albert of the Department of Education. The DOE, many of the teachers and most of the students indicated their desire to see the character education program established in their school system and to have a much longer summer camp next year.

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