Sunday, December 19, 2010

I am a Peace Corps volunteer!!!

It's official...last week I was sworn-in as a Peace Corps volunteer. We had a great ceremony which included our group taking the Peace Corps oath, the singing of the American national anthem, the singing of the Tongan national anthem, traditional Tongan dances, and, as with any Tongan event, some good food. Here is a pciture of me after I accepted my language certificate and pin.

Going back a couple weeks (since I haven't posted any updates lately), there were some really awesome thing I got to do in Ha'apai before leaving for site. One awesome event was our Peace Corps culture day. Each village was responsible for learning a Tongan dance, cooking a Tongan dish and an American dish, and practicing another art form (song, skit, poem, etc.). Our village did the maulu'ulu (the sitting dance), read poetry, and cooked lots of good food like vai siane (cooked bananas), otai (mango punch), ota paka (crab salad), and pancakes. It was also really neat to see everything the other villages had prepared.

The following day, those of us in Fotua attended a putu (funeral). A putu is usually held at the home of the deceased (sometimes at a church). There are several days of preparation for cooking and cleaning before the acutual event. My host mother was gone for several days helping out. The day of, people start going early in the morning and usually stay until late afternoon. All day, there is singing outside of the house and a constant supply of food. People bring gifts of mats and cloth which they take inside the house to present to the family. Once you enter the house, you lay down your gift, kneel at the body, and then kiss the body. I only stayed for a few hours, but I was glad to experience this unique event.
That Saturday was supposed to be my last day in Ha'apai, but our flight was cancelled due to rain. We spent the weekend at a guesthouse, and flew to Vava'u on Monday for a week of attachement. I spent one day at my site, and then three days with a current volunteer. The current volunteers did a great job of introducing us to Vava'u. We spent one day at the beach, one day touring the island, explored town, and went to a couple restaurants. Here is a picture of the Vava'u crew (minus Farfum and Ashley).

After our short stay in Vava'u, we went back to Nuku'alofa to wrap-up training, swear-in, and do lots of shopping for our houses. Finally, after two and a half months of waiting, it was time to move to site! I am now happily moved in to my adorable house. I have to wait a couple days for the rest of my stuff to arrive on the boat, but I have been busy shopping, cleaning, and meeting new people. I start teaching at the end of January, so I have some time to practice my Tongan, get to know my community, plan for teaching, and relax. I am looking forward to a great couple of weeks! Here are some pictures of my new house to end with.


  1. It's wonderful! Thanks for a great post! Love you.

  2. ah i love it! thanks for the update (: missing you, but SO happy to see that everything is going so well... you're awesome!