Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Holidays

Here in Tonga, the holidays are now in full swing. Not only is Christmas quickly approaching, but last week was graduation which marked the official end of school. In other words, in Tonga it is summer break and Christmas at the same time! How fabulous is that? This magical combination means that the past couple weeks have been lots of fun.

The first holiday celebration I attended in Tonga was our Peace Corps Thanksgiving dinner. We were able to track down all the traditional Thanksgiving foods; turkey from Tongatapu, stuffing and cranberry sauce from America, homemade rolls, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, pumpkin pie, and apple pie. Yum! Also, it was great to spend some time with my Peace Corps family.

Last Tuesday was our Christmas program at school. Even though it's still November, Tongan schools usually do a Christmas program early before summer break begins. Each class was responsible for preparing a Christmas tree. Most classes brought in regular old trees with branches and leaves because pine trees are non-existent in Tonga. Even though most weren't traditional Christmas trees, they still looked beautiful with all of the garland, ornaments, and balloons. The program also included lots of Christmas songs. My favorite was "The 12 days of Christmas" performed by Class 1 and Class 2. So cute!

The most recent celebration was our graduation ceremony on Thursday. It was very different than most graduations I've attended in America. There were the usual speeches and announcements of the top students, but there was also lots of music, tons of candy necklaces and money as gifts from students' families, and a table full of prizes. It was also my first time attending a ceremony where I had students graduating. I was so proud of them all! Now it's time to travel, relax, and visit with family and friends.
Happy holidays everyone!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Pleasant Picnic

Yesterday was on of the last events of the 2011 school year at Mailefihi, a farewell picnic for the teachers who will be leaving next year. As of right now, there are 4 teachers leaving next year, one of them being my neighbor and fellow PCV Ashley. Next week there will be an announcement for all the Wesleyan schools about the "hiki fiako" or relocation of teachers. That means that many of our teachers will be moving to teach at Wesleyan schools on different islands in Tonga. However, we will also be getting many new teachers next year. I'm curious to see what the 2012 staff will be!

Anyway, I think that the picnic yesterday was a fantastic way to say goodbye to the teachers who are leaving. It was a gorgeous day with lots of sunshine and a wonderful island breeze. At the beach, we had a stunning view of some outer islands and the open ocean beyond. There was plenty to do including volleyball, cards, swimming and naturally tons of food. My favorite was eating all the fresh pineapple and watermelon...perfect picnic food!

Along with this end of the year event, we had a Christmas program on Friday, our last Sunday church service with students and teachers today, a upcoming candlelight march on Tuesday, and the graduation ceremony on Thursday. We are so close to being finished, and then I'm so looking forward to my travels in December! Until then, I will be found enjoying the beautiful beaches of Tonga and some delicious island food.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Student Assessments

It's official. I have the coolest job ever. For the past two and a half weeks, my students have been doing their final assessments. Each student had to prepare an appetizer, a main, and a dessert. My job was to grade their work in the kitchen; cleanliness, hygiene, proper methods, correct uniform, use of knives, etc. After grading their work, I also got to assist with taste testing. Yum.

I was very impressed with the food the students prepared. Here are some example menus:

- Tempura, fish and chips, brownies
- Lobster cocktail, lobster bombay, banana split
- Chef's salad, fish curry, pineapple fritters
- Sushimi, stuffed chicken, tropical fruit salad
- Green salad, polynesian fish, banana foster

It was all delicious, and I had a super fun two weeks. Now, that the assessments are finished, the students have choir practice and cleaning everyday until graduation on November 24th. After that, some travels around the islands and America here I come! Can't wait!