February 16, 2003: Headlines: COS - Micronesia: PCVs in the Field - Micronesia: Cornell University: Nico Dauphine in Micronesia

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Micronesia: Peace Corps Micronesia : The Peace Corps in Micronesia: February 16, 2003: Headlines: COS - Micronesia: PCVs in the Field - Micronesia: Cornell University: Nico Dauphine in Micronesia

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Nico Dauphine in Micronesia

Nico Dauphine in Micronesia

Nico Dauphine
Graduate student, crop science
Hometown: Carmel, Calif.
Peace Corps: 1995-99

YAP, MICRONESIA -- During training out on Ulithi Atoll, I'd swim in the lagoon every day and afterward I would have a film of salt on my skin. On Yap Island, there is a barrier reef. For about a mile offshore, the water hardly became deeper than a bathtub. People sometimes stood offshore fishing -- far away, yet only knee deep in water -- or they would "pole by" on bamboo rafts.

A big Yapese passion is chewing betel nut, which young boys harvest by skillfully shinnying up the thin betel palms that grow all over the island. Chewing produces prolific quantities of red-stained saliva, causing chewers to spit copiously. The floors of many public buildings were painted red in deference to this almost ubiquitous pastime.

I worked in a crop extension project. With a Yapese partner, I'd go out and try to work with farmers on increasing and improving crop production. Among others, we worked with three old farmers -- two women and a man -- on developing a small cucumber plantation.

One of our main problems was their refusal to buy seeds, since their generation had grown used to government handouts during their time as a U.S. trust territory after World War II. The woman in charge pleaded poverty, but I knew she had enough money, because she came to my host family's house to buy beer all the time.

One night I sat up with a group of women drinking in a circle in our front yard. I went off to bed at some point, and they happily drank to my good night's sleep. I don't know how much longer they held out. The next morning when I left to go running at 6, they were all there in exactly the same spot, passed out beneath the mango tree. When I came back at 7, they were getting up to get more beer.

I'm not sure what prompted this, but one day that old lady came to our house and, after buying some beer, gave me the rest of her money. She told me to use it for their seeds. Amazed, I did. Within a few months they had a bumper crop of cucumbers and peppers. I had never seen so many cucumbers in one place, before or since. Cucumbers still remind me of her.

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Cornell University

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Micronesia; PCVs in the Field - Micronesia



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