Marshallese canoes became a large part of Rachel Miller’s life after she first arrived in RMI in 2005 as a WorldTeach volunteer, working on the remote Namdrik Atoll. Not wanting to leave the Marshall Islands immediately, after the teaching year ended she joined the WAM team to be its Program Administrator, working under Alson Kelen as Program Manager and Dennis Alessio as Program Director.
She finally left the Marshalls, but she didn’t leave the canoes behind! “I moved to Hawaii to get a Master’s degree in Pacific Islands Studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I wrote my thesis about Marshallese canoes and social change as part of that degree (Wa Kuk Wa Jimor: Outrigger Canoes, Social Change, and Modern Life in the Marshall Islands). After I graduated with a Master’s in 2010 I turned my thesis into a documentary-style film called Wa Kuk Wa Jimor: Marshallese Canoes Today. It was funded in part by the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities.”
Rachel’s next career move was to work for the East-West Center in Honolulu for three years. In 2013 she moved to Bloomington, Indiana, to pursue a second Master’s degree in Public Affairs from Indiana University.