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People with pants: How WorldTeach teachers in the Marshall Islands view and present themselves

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Abstract:

The word “ripelle” is used by Marshallese to refer to foreigners. Literally translated as “people with pants,” ripelles have occupied the roles of missionaries, subjugators, liberators, colonizers, and sources of vital aid. This traumatic history of colonialism and current context of dependency have engendered a movement to “decolonize” local institutions. Against this backdrop, however, ripelles have also assumed a new role, that of educators. For the past eight years, up to 45 ripelle teachers have been imported into the Marshall Islands annually as part of the American WorldTeach program. This continuous influx of ripelles seems to be in direct contradiction to the recent Marshallese initiatives which emphasize autonomy and self-empowerment. Through interviews with former WorldTeach volunteers in the Marshall Islands, I explore how these ripelle teachers viewed their roles in the Marshall Islands and presented themselves to the local population. Were they aware of the apparent paradox of their position? What did they interpret their purpose to be? How did they attempt to accomplish their goals without presenting themselves as neocolonialists? The information gleaned from this study can help us understand the full responsibility of technical assistance, and the relationship between development and imperialism.
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Association:
Name: 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
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http://www.cies.us


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p492933_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Li, Richard. "People with pants: How WorldTeach teachers in the Marshall Islands view and present themselves" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p492933_index.html>

APA Citation:

Li, R. "People with pants: How WorldTeach teachers in the Marshall Islands view and present themselves" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p492933_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: The word “ripelle” is used by Marshallese to refer to foreigners. Literally translated as “people with pants,” ripelles have occupied the roles of missionaries, subjugators, liberators, colonizers, and sources of vital aid. This traumatic history of colonialism and current context of dependency have engendered a movement to “decolonize” local institutions. Against this backdrop, however, ripelles have also assumed a new role, that of educators. For the past eight years, up to 45 ripelle teachers have been imported into the Marshall Islands annually as part of the American WorldTeach program. This continuous influx of ripelles seems to be in direct contradiction to the recent Marshallese initiatives which emphasize autonomy and self-empowerment. Through interviews with former WorldTeach volunteers in the Marshall Islands, I explore how these ripelle teachers viewed their roles in the Marshall Islands and presented themselves to the local population. Were they aware of the apparent paradox of their position? What did they interpret their purpose to be? How did they attempt to accomplish their goals without presenting themselves as neocolonialists? The information gleaned from this study can help us understand the full responsibility of technical assistance, and the relationship between development and imperialism.


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