Award honours teacher’s services

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Having spent 42 years teaching geography in Vanuatu, local Charlie Pierce has been awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to education.

His name was published on the 2017 Birthday Honours list in June.

The well-deserving and previously unsung hero said he originally moved to Port Vila, Vanuatu volunteering for the Baha’i Faith as a teacher.

“Baha’i were needed to go to the Pacific, so I went as a volunteer at a small school,” he said.

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“It was a joint colony of Britain and France and I could speak both languages, and I was involved in education in the formal and informal sector.

“I spoke the native tongue of pidgin to teach.”

Now aged 76, he was running the first course on climate change and disaster risk at the Vanuatu Institute of Technology when he was told the news of his award.

“It came out of the blue,” he said.

“I was approached to write a course of climate change reduction which was to use in rural training centres.

“It is very hands-on and getting people aware of climate change and what they can do.”

Teaching geography in the world’s most vulnerable country to hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes and cyclones, Mr Pierce said he did not want to leave, relocating to Goode Beach in 2013.

“Vanuatu is on the edge of two plates, so there are volcanic islands have come all around, and such beautiful reefs,” he said.

“Not just the natural beauty, but the culture and the way of life of the people is very nice and warm.”

He will continue to teach and study climate change, and is due to return to Vanuatu in November to work with the examination office for geography.

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