Living in Palau: Life after West Georgia
My husband, Paul, and I had never heard of Palau before seeing an on-line job announcement this past spring. Eight months later, we are living in paradise, or, at least, that’s how we like to spin it.
I started teaching English at the Palau Community College a few weeks ago. My husband, Paul, also an English major from West Georgia, has been an assistant Attorney General in Palau since July. Palauan and English are official languages here, but since Palauans traditionally had an oral culture, writing English doesn’t come easy for them. At the college, I teach three Developmental English classes focusing on paragraph
writing, one Freshman Composition class (strictly teaching the five-paragraph essay), and one Introduction to Literature class. One of the prerequisites for the Introduction to Literature class is an eighth-grade, or higher, reading level. My classes consist of a variety of students. Most are Palauan, and a few are Filipino, Korean, or Taiwanese. Since English is a second and sometimes third or fourth language for many of my students, teaching is a bit tricky.There are quite a few ex-pats willing and wanting to teach English at the school, but the college is especially happy to have me since my degree is in English. It’s nice that I get paid a little more money for having a Master’s degree.
The native population of Palau is approximately 20,000. Almost the entire population lives in and around Koror, the capital. There are no movie theaters, shopping malls, or bookstores here; the crystal-clear water and the Rock Islands are the main attractions of Palau. Most activities are water-centered.
Paul and I recently bought a boat, a real adventure for two landlubbers, and we were certified as open water scuba divers. Since Palau is located eight degrees above the equator, and much of the archipelago is surrounded by coral reef, Palau is one of the best places in the world for scuba diving. Interestingly, hardly any Palauns scuba dive. I’ve seen blue star fish, sharks, turtles, an octopus, hundreds of tropical fishes, and many forms of coral. The many holes and caves carved in the limestone make diving in Palau unique. Swimming out of a hole at a depth of 100 feet with only radiant beams of light to guide you is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
--Karen and Paul Miovas