Etilyong Tilimwar - Green Card Voices

Etilyong Tilimwar

Occupation: Student

Country of Birth: Pohnpei (Micronesia)

Current: O’ahu, Hawai’i

“I’m hoping that after I finish high school, I will go to college. I want to go back home, help the schools, and help my family. That’s what I want in the future.”

Etilyong was born in Pohnpei, but his formative years were shaped on the small, technology-sparse island of Poluwat. Life there was simple, devoid of modern conveniences such as cars or stores, and education was limited to elementary level, fostering a community deeply connected to its natural surroundings.

At a young age, Etilyong moved to Chuuk to pursue his education, a significant change that introduced him to a broader world yet amplified his sense of isolation as he lived apart from his parents. Here, his uncle who initially supported him eventually became a source of conflict, highlighting the challenges Etilyong faced in adapting to new environments while clinging to his cultural identity.

Etilyong’s journey took a pivotal turn when disagreements with his uncle forced him to move yet again, this time to his aunt’s house, which marked the beginning of another chapter—moving to Hawai‘i. This transition was fraught with anxiety and excitement, compounded by his first experience flying, which was both exhilarating and nerve-wracking.

Arriving in Hawai‘i, Etilyong was immediately struck by the stark contrasts to his previous homes: the language barrier and the bustling, unfamiliar environment posed significant challenges. However, his resilience shone through as he navigated these new experiences with a quiet determination and an eagerness to adapt.

Today, Etilyong’s life in the United States is a testament to his enduring spirit. He attends school, where he dreams of completing his education and returning home to contribute to his community. His days are filled with studying and socializing, a far cry from his earlier life of constant mobility and survival. In every setting, Etilyong carries with him the lessons of his past, using them to forge a path toward a hopeful future, embodying the resilience and adaptability of the human spirit.