Join our adventure in The Kingdom of Tonga

Archive for November, 2007

Homestay 2 coming to an end.

We are 6 days from the end of our second homestay and things are going well. Everyone has had practicum this week.  If you are in the teaching program- you teach in a typical “student teaching format”, and if you are in the business program, you are attached to various businesses to see if you can complete tasks needed by the business. It has been the most educational and helpful for Karen and myself because we actually get to do the type of work that we enjoy.

New updates coming soon with plenty of pictures and possibly a movie or two when we get back to Nuku’alofa.

Placement…Pangai, Ha’apai, Tonga

* I know many blog readers have expressed an interest in sending us some care packages.  We are tucked away in such a remote corner of the globe, that any mail or goodies from home would be much appreciated:)  I will be teaching at a Primary school, and I am quite sure that school supplies would be an enormous help.  If you are a parent and/or teacher and would like to involve your children/students in a solidarity project with my students in Pangai, please feel free to email me.  We can discuss what is needed and a possible pen pal project! Thanks so much:)

We finally received our site placement! We will be living and working in Pangai, Ha’apai which, starting south, is the second island chain to the north. The island chains are: Tongatapu (where we were during our first homestay) and Eua, then 240 miles north is Ha’apai, then 210 miles north of that is Vava’u (where we are now), and about 500 miles north of that is Niu Islands where Peace Corps doesn’t work anymore.

Scot will be be doing computer training and setup with the possibility of doing GIS for the Ministry of Lands, and helping with a radio station. Karen is going to be teaching English at a government primary school, and the possibility exists for her to work with the Ministry of Health or an NGO doing health related education. It is the most beautiful of the island groups apparently, and great chances for kayaking, camping, spear fishing, snorkeling, whale watching and diving.

At first, we were a bit taken aback by the fact that we were not being sent to Tongatapu because we felt that our professional skills most matched job/volunteer opportunities in the capital. But after having some time to process it all- we are really excited about being in a beautiful location with such interesting prospects. Out of our group of 33 new volunteers, only five of us will live on Ha’api. It is quite rural, so the change of pace will be an adjustment for us. We will have a new address in Ha’api, but for now, mail can still be sent to the Nuku’alofa address posted on our blog. Peace Corps will forward it to Ha’api. Because we will be so “out of touch,” hearing from you all will absolutely make our day (or weeks, or months:)
Here is a little introduction to Ha’apai- taken from the Lonely Planet. “Sprinkled across the kingdom’s central waters, the Ha’apai Group is an idyllic South Pacific paradise- low coral islands, vibrant reefs and kilometers of deserted with beaches fringed with coconut palms. Traditional culture is not something you pay an entry fee to experience- it’s all around, unexploited and alive. You won’t find the distractions of shops, nightspots (or even running water at times,) but those willing to forgo the trimmings reap the rewards.”

We will keep you posted as we near the next chapter of our lives here in the Kingdom of Tonga. For the next two weeks, we will be in Vava’u. Karen will be student teaching to prepare for life as a teacher in Tonga, and Scot is busy with business practicums. Our language acquisition is coming along, and we are generally feeling pretty comfortable in our surroundings. Thanks for all of your support!

Tonga National Geographic article

Check out this interesting article sent to me by a RPCV(returned Peace Corps Volunteer) from Tonga, Roger Reed. It’s about, you guessed it, Tonga.


Expect a big post by next wednesday letting everyone know where we are going to be placed. We find out Tuesday. So check back for our reactions.

The latest in Vava’u Nov02

We have been in Vava’u for the past week.  The 33 PSTraineers have been separated into 3 different villages.  They are all located about 20 minutes from each other by walking, but this is still an adjustment for everyone having once been together in a cohesive group.  Vava’u is a hot spot for palangi (foreginer) travel especially from New Zealand and Australia.  Downtown Nieafu is full of restaurants, bars, and internet cafes in which I currently sit.  Unfortunately there isn’t much time to frequent these hot spots because we are spending so much time training.  We are typically in some form of language or culture training from 8am to 8pm.  It is often incredibly draining, but we know we are the better having gone through this training.  This past week Karen helped facilitate a session on rape and sexual assult, and next week she is co-facilitating a session on classroom management.  As is customary in Tongan culture, Karen is tryign to spend what little free time she has in the “falelalanga” or weaving hut,.  This is a community gathering point for women to weave and gossip and spend hours day and night weaving.  Tongans love to laugh and this is where many of the women laugh at each other, the men, and especially the Peace Corps Palangi.

Just in case your interested in helping us out at some point in our next two years, here are some ideas of what we could use: Letters, books, Karen:tampons, People Magazine, long skirts.  Bill n’ Kris could you send me some Golden Mountain in a month or two?

We are missing everyone and we hope you’re doing well.  This is a really tough time for everyone, very intense.   Keep checking back!!