Floundering In Truk Lagoon
The Dinner Party
About the Author
Music From Micronesia
THE BAD VOLUNTEER
Notes from Micronesia
a book by Mary Flannery
THE UNTOLD PEACE CORPS STORY
Mary Flannery did two years' time on a tiny island (one mile by
one-fifth of a mile) called Oneop in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Careening between extreme boredom and frustration with a culture
already ruined by Christian missionaries and third-rate videos,
Flannery wrote THE BAD VOLUNTEER not as nostalgic memoir, but
rather, in the heat and fury of the moment.
The story begins with the author's thoughts before the journey,
pondering what lies ahead. All she knows is that she'll be dumped on
a spit of sand somewhere "out there," connected to the rest of the
world by nothing but an occasional field trip ship and a radio. And
that she will be living among people who have a socialistic attitude
towards material goods, a reluctance to share knowledge or
intellectual data, and a dating practice called nightcrawling.
It ends more than two trying years later, with the islanders' final
performance of the author's Jesus Musicale at a pan-island jubilee.
Mary was the first Peace Corps volunteer ever to endure the full
two-year term on Oneop.
"The Bad Volunteer" refers not only to the author, but to the United
States government, which has kept the Federated States of Micronesia
in a state of welfare-like dependency since World War II. This
relationship is also examined in the book.
An array of colorful characters is woven throughout: Eruo, the
maddening Principal; Kalwin, the author's big-bellied benevolent host
father; William, his neurotic son; Sweeper, the local loon; The Herr
and The Frau, German missionaries, and more. We get to know them,
and the ways of the island, through the author's eyes.