Join our adventure in The Kingdom of Tonga

Productive week, meetings with our supervisors.

This past week was quite busy and productive for us.  Three of our Peace Corps supervisors came to Ha’apai to meet with the current volunteers stationed here.  One of whom was Jeffrey Cornish, the Country Director of Peace Corps Tonga.  The meetings were really helpful and positive.  We were able to share some of our aspirations, thoughts and experiences about life as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ha’apai.   As a result of one of the discussions, I will hopefully assist the Peace Corps Nurse in teaching the rape and sexual assault training for future volunteers.

One question I was posed with this week was why in fact I decided to become a teacher.  That question (along with the fact that my 30th birthday is approaching) sparked another visitation of me mulling over my career path, life choices, etc.  As a kid, I wanted to be a Doctor.  I always knew that I wanted to “help people,” and I think that as a child the only profession that truly seemed to fit that calling was in medicine.  Later on, I envisioned myself in politics and policy making.  Yet during college, I had a hard time aligning myself with the electoral politics of the United States.  Instead, I moved towards the world of non-profit organizations and found myself most happy and fulfilled as a social worker.  Yet whether I was working with homeless teenagers or survivors of domestic violence, I always saw the link between poverty and educational opportunity.  Women often returned to abusive relationships because they did not have the educational background to financially survive as a single mom.  Quite simply, cleaning hotel rooms just wouldn’t pay the bills.  I worked with homeless youth who had been truly left behind by the school system and could barely read.  Without a solid education, their futures seemed bleak.  So I decided to become a teacher.  Besides the lofty goals and ambitions, I couldn’t help but be attracted to the teacher’s schedule of summers without work (the travel bug had already hit).

But teaching has taken many different paths for me.  I’ve taught homeless children at a shelter, pregnant teenagers and young moms, suburban ten year olds, Bolivian English students, and now Tongan students.  In an ideal world, students (male and female alike) in the US, Japan, Tonga, Haiti, and the Sudan would have equal educational opportunities.  If you will forgive the tired, old cliché, education is power.  So I guess that is why I am in the Peace Corps, teaching rural students to read, write, and converse in English.  I really enjoy the kids in the upper classes.  They are between ten and twelve years old, and are just so much fun.  As you can see in the photos, they are full of energy and enthusiasm.

However, teaching the five and six year olds is pure torture.  Thank goodness, I only have to do it for about an hour a week.  I never aspired to be an early education teacher.  It honestly takes a very special, patient person to work with kids that age.  And I am not that person.  Can I teach a college class on Gender Studies?! No problem.  World Geography to angry sixteen year olds?! Piece of cake.  But “Row, row, row your boat” to five year olds is enough to make me want to pull all of my hair out!

So that is a small reflection on my work experience here in Tonga.  The day to day of life is going well too.  We are continually amazed and in gratitude of all the wonderful care packages that find their way to us here.  We’ve adopted a cat, who is finally letting us pet her.  Our one year wedding anniversary is coming up, so we are planning on having an actual lunch at the one fancy resort here to commemorate the day.  Every evening we watch the sunset behind a volcano.  When night falls, it is impossible to go outside without being overwhelmed by the multitude of stars.  The Milky Way is entirely clear and visible and it feels as if you are standing in the midst of it.

Karen and her co teachers:

Karen and her co-teachers

Myself and Jeffery Cornish:

Myself and CD Cornish in my lab

Our New Cat:named puss puss (the Tongan word for cat)

Calico face

Molakai before:

molakai before

Molakai after:

molakai after

Also look in the pictures section at the new slideshow

1 Comment»

  stan wrote @


its good to read about what you guys have been up to. things are going very well up here in vava’u, i have definately been kai lahi. you guys take care and i will see you soon.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: