The last several weeks, we have switched focus from language to technical training. The other two business trainees and I have had the privilege of meeting many local business owners. We also conducted a training session last week for some guest house owners. We led a discussion of business needs in Tonga and presented the concept of a mission statement. Our participants told us it was the first interactive training they have attended. It was sometimes difficult to illicit their participation, but it was encouraging when they did show interest and develop their own ideas. It was also great practice for any training I might hold at my future site.
Some other things I have been doing lately include lots of dancing, sports practices, song practice, and of course, plenty of beach time. Every weekend for the past month there has been a Mormon dance in a nearby village. Mormon dances are much different than any dance I’ve been to in America. For one, if a boy wants to dance with you, they come up to where you are sitting and do a little bow. There is no conversation involved; you simply go out on the dance floor, stand at least 5 feet apart, and essentially dance by yourself. The exception is the slow songs during which couples waltz. Anyway, I think they are a blast.
Another common event is ako hiva, choir practice. Recently there was a big Mormon conference, so our island had a combined church choir that rehearsed almost every night leading up to the event. As a side note, I swear I am not becoming Mormon, I’ll only be going to Mormon events for one more week. Anyway, it was great being able to participate in a real choir…they used even used dynamics! It also helped me practice reading Tongan music. I now understand the number system (it just coordinates with the scale of the key signature starting at 3 and going up to 9), but I’m still working on rhythms. I am sure I will learn soon.
Finally, I have been playing some Tongan sports lately. I tried netball (although I wouldn't really call it netball since there were no nets) and touch rugby. I wasn't particularly good at either game, but it was lots of fun.
I only have a couple days left here in Ha'apai, and then I will be heading to Vava'u for a week checking out my site and shadowing a current volunteer. I can't wait to check it out!