By: Lee Min-hyung

Shelten G. Neth, a senator of the Micronesian state of Pohnpei, says he will not spare any effort to build an educational bridge with Korea.

“We want to go beyond the region of an education partnership with educational institutions here in Korea,” he told The Korea Times in a recent interview.

His Seoul visit last week was part of Pohnpei’s efforts to foster exchanges, not just in education but also in other professional areas.

“I want to go beyond and to look out for colleges and universities in Korea that can help us train in professions such as engineering, education, business administration and economics,” Neth said.

Pohnpei is the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), a two-hour flight from Guam. The FSM consists of four states ― Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae ― spreading across the Western Pacific Ocean.

Neth serves as vice chairman of the Resource and Development Committee at thePohnpei State Legislature. He was president of the Pacific Islands Bilingual Bicultural Association International (PIBBA).

“Micronesia is a gifted place,” Neth said. “We are freely associated with the United States.”

But the island country is struggling to provide education for its students.

“Realizing education is inevitable. Education is undeniable,” he said. “Smart students here cannot attend private schools because they cannot afford the tuition. The tuition is only $80 (87,000 won) a month. We need help.”

He has asked for cooperation and help from the Korean government to expand educational partnerships.

He said a joint program called USMD was a good example of educational cooperation between the two countries.

From last year, the New Tokyo Medical College (NTMC) in Micronesia has been offering its program for Korean students who want to become doctors in the U.S.

New Tokyo Medical College President Dr. Christian Hong said: “We are going to educate good students at our medical school in the best possible way and make sure they go into the medical field.”

He said they would meet the great demand for a range of medical services.

“Having New Tokyo Medical College in our island country is a breakthrough because we need to dream, educate and provide adequate medical training and medical professional know-how,” Neth said.

“Unfortunately, we cannot afford for our Micronesian students to attend the traditional, regular medical schools. We don’t have the financial resources.”

He also stressed the need to develop human resources in both countries.

“I believe in the power of partnership,” he said. “Two can do more than one. That’s my philosophy. The number one resource and development are ‘human resources.’ It is my belief.”

Concurrently serving as the chairman of the Ohwa International Christian Academy, Neth asked for financial support to help educate students in the school.

“We are a theological college,” he said. “If you do not know what to do with your money, please send it to us to provide scholarships to smart students here.”