Why do this innovative undertaking in the middle of the vast Pacific?
When this pioneering experiment in long distance learning succeeds, it proves the viability of any educational outreach to any teen, anywhere in the world. HIV/AIDS remains a pandemic that can best be stopped by youths themselves using medically accurate facts and positive peer persuasion via their command of social media networks.
It is critically important that teenagers living in the remotest locations with few resources become an integral part of a life saving world mission. Every maturing adolescent will know that they are integral to this grand design.
Between 1975 and 1977, Dr. John Chittick lived on three of the most remote coral atolls in the world as the sole outsider. In early 2017, he is returning TeenAIDS to one special Pacific island to realize his 40-year plan to establish “Atoll Academy” for their older island youths (total population of 350 inhabitants on 250 acres of land, mostly coconut palms). Other students arrive by outrigger sailing canoes and fishing boats from a 500-mile area.
Dr. John teaches youths using his knowledge gained from Harvard, MIT, Dartmouth, Deerfield Academy, Applewild School, and extensive world travels. The school’s goal is to educate and empower these youths to receive scholarships to Pacific Rim colleges and universities so that the majority returns home to take leading roles in the future affairs of their small but independent nations. Island elders join TeenAIDS’ mission sharing their decades of knowledge so each youth receives a unique, educational experience, including young females in a traditional society.
Time is of the essence for this important educational mission. With rising sea levels, many atolls (only 3-5 feet above high tide) are seeing their limited fresh water supplies turn increasingly brackish and undrinkable, hindering the growth of plant food. These tiny spits of land, palm trees and coral reefs are delicate ecosystems that are disappearing below the waves after millenniums of sustainable survival by sea-going inhabitants. The native populations are being forced to find new places to live as a result of decisions made by outside entities in faraway locations — without their knowledge or consent. This problem is being addressed by TA-PC’s Atoll Academy.
In 1975, Dr. John left behind Western civilization in a search to experience traditional life in the most remote part of the Pacific. Selling his possessions, he bought a one-way ticket to Samoa and took tramp steamers deeper into Oceania on a quest to test his ability to survive in a culture opposite his own. Island chiefs allowed him to live with them. To carry his weight, he taught youths in open huts by the lagoon. He wrote to a friend in 1977, “I’ve made the decision to return when I retire and come back and start a school to educate these youths safely enter the modern world.” His plan has come true with this exception: he’s never going to retire and instead is taking TA-PC to this new “old” world. An experiment like ours has never been achieved before but like all of TeenAIDS’ innovative programs, this social media endeavor is challenging but not impossible. Where there’s a will…
Students are recording the oral histories of their ancestors, learning herbal remedies, and navigating by the stars – before this life disappears. Importantly, they have intermittent access to the internet via passing satellites and microwave technologies to help run TeenAIDS’ social media education and go on to college careers. The academy is using solar and wind energy, and portable desalination equipment.
This innovative educational experience is the best of both worlds. TA-PC continues its global mission educating young people via social media while helping island youths preserve their heritage that brings them into the modern world. These young people are assuming the ultimate responsibility for their families and communities. The Atoll Academy experiment is a continuing TeenAIDS’ all-volunteer effort – and the final chapter of Dr. John’s very rewarding life.
We need your support to realize this important global program. Please donate now.