WAM gives John second chance

Waan Aelon in Majel instructor and BA-track CMI student John Aine with a WAM-built outrigger canoe. Photo: Wilmer Joel.

WILMER JOEL

If you think dropping out of school is the end of the line for you, then you should think again.

John Aine, 27, was a high school dropout and is living proof that dropping out is not the end of the line. John is currently an instructor at Waan Aelon in Majel (WAM), in which he teaches the students or attendees how to build and make canoes.

Several years after dropping out, John got back on track by signing up for a six-month WAM vocational and life skills training program in 2014, from which he graduated. That was his jumping off point for attending the Adult Basic Education program at CMI and graduating in 2017. Once he had his high school diploma in hand, he continued at CMI, graduating with an associate of science degree this year. He is now working toward his bachelor’s degree in teaching through CMI’s BA-track program.

But before his reinvigorated education journey got underway in 2014, John experienced challenges after dropping out.

John dropped out of Marshall Islands Christian High School in Aelonlaplap in 2010. At that time, a youth rally was happening in Majuro that he joined.

John explained that after his participation in the youth rally, he began to lose interest in going to school. He started to hangout with the wrong crowd and began drinking alcohol and taking drugs. “That was when my life was hard and my struggle was greater,” he said.

To support himself, he picked up a job at a Chinese store and tried to make a living for himself. He said nobody wanted to accept him because he didn’t finish school and didn’t have any academic credentials.

Regardless, he didn’t give up or complain, he continued moving forward. Then he found out about WAM’s training program after hearing talk about it from the radio and his peers. He heard they operate a program that teaches youth and school dropouts how to build Marshallese canoes and it includes math and English classes as well.

Seeing what they were doing interested him and he joined the program.

“That was where my life began to change for the better,” he said. He was inspired by an American teacher name Bonny Taggart. “She gave me assignments that helped boost my English and my writing skills,” he said. From that moment on he started to become fluent in the English language.

He began to see life differently from what he once saw. In looking back, he realized all of the things he did wrong. After his English teacher persuaded him to go back to school since his grammar was improving, he was able to redeem himself with another chance. He’s gone from dropping out 10 years ago to now working on his bachelor’s degree.

“I would haven’t been here without the help of God,” he said. “Through his help he gave me numerous support from families, my friends, from WAM, and Bonny.” He added, “To all those youth especially to all school dropouts, with God nothing is impossible. You just need to have faith and the willingness to move forward and never give up. If you made a mistake in life, be sure to fix it.”

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