Join our adventure in The Kingdom of Tonga

Goodbye Ha’apai

Well, as some of you already know—Scot and I are transferring sites and moving back to Nuku’alofa.  The professional opportunities in the capital really matched our goals and interests for our Peace Corps experience.  Scot will be primarily working with the Tongan Government on alternative/sustainable energy initiatives.  Tonga has received a large amount of funding from international sources to increase and implement wind energy, more solar power, and biodiesel production from coconut oil.  Additionally, he is hoping to help facilitate the creation of a recycling program for electronic waste.  Tonga is the recipient of philanthropic computer donations from around the world.  While the intentions may be good, the reality is that many of the computers sent here are hardly working—if working at all.  The power fluctuations and the heat makes the life cycle of these computers even shorter.  However, Tonga does not have the proper means to dispose of the computers.  What commonly happens is that they end up thrown in the ocean or buried underground.  Toxic chemicals and heavy metals from the computers then contaminate water sources and food sources.  These issues are potential projects for him in the future.


I will be teaching English at Tupou High School.  My teacher certification is at the Secondary level, so it will be nice to “return to my roots.”  There are NGOs in Nuku’alofa working on a range of issues, including domestic violence, teen pregnancy, HIV/Aids, and criminal deportee integration.  For those of you who know me- tapping into those communities also feels like “returning to my roots.”


Any transition is always a bittersweet experience.  I have loved getting to know the students at the Government Primary School in Pangai, particularly the upper elementary students.  I have a ton of respect for early childhood educators, because I have learned that my skills do not lie in that area!  The upper elementary kiddos make my day, everyday.  I love their personalities, their spunk, their smiles.  Although I will miss them, they truly are in good hands.  The school receives funding and donations from the Australian and New Zealand government, a Japanese volunteer teaches supplementary math classes on the abacus as well as origami classes, and the Tongan teachers are all well qualified for the positions.  Also, it is most likely that another Peace Corps volunteer will replace me in December. 


A very common phrase in Tongan is “Alu ki fe?” which translates as “Where are you going?”  It is one of the most common greetings when passing someone on the street.  At first it took some getting used to, and struck me as a nosey question.  I guess I am adapting, because now I ask it all the time.  Anyway, there is a moderate size Chinese population living in Tonga.  There are two stores owned and operated by Chinese families in Ha’apai.  Whenever I see my students around town, I will ask them “Alu ki fe?”  A lot of times, the response is “Alu ki China” or “I’m going to China.” Unfortunately, my explanation differentiating going to China and going to a Chinese Store seemed to get lost in translation.  So as Scot and I started packing up this week, we decided to donate our large world map to the school.  As the students pour over it, I have been pleased to see their successful identification that China is not, in fact, a store on our tiny islandJ


  cassie wrote @

Hello from the States. I am Kirsten’s mom and have enjoyed reading your blog, even occasionally seeing Kiki mentioned.
Tonga is a wonderful country and I have enjoyed reading your perspectives. We visited last summer for 12 days when visiting Kirsten and really enjoyed exploring different island groups including Haapai and the capital. Good luck in your new adventure and please say hi to Kirsten and

  Mrs.R.Deivanayagam wrote @

Hi Scot!
How are you and Karen doing?I got your e-mail from Harsha.I was asking him how you were and where you were and he told me.When do you plan to come here?Keep in touch.I see Asher and Richie somtimes.Whenever Harsha visits I see some of your friends.Is your mother here in cookeville?Vik (Harsha’s older brother)got twin babies!!both girls.They just turned one.Take care.Wherever you are keep in touch.With love and best wishes to you and Karen I end..Mrs.Ratna Deivanayagam.

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