Saturday, August 04, 2007

Inclusive Education Classroom

Some pictures of my students & co-teacher (not all students were present on this day)


'Alani and Carly, just goofing around

'Alani and Carly at Valerie and 'Alai's wedding in July

As of June 23, 2007 'Alani (David Alan Ratliff) and I got engaged!! Wow!!

'Alani's Write-up about Fiji

'Alani cleaning up the boats after kayaking through the mangroves and getting in a mud-fight.

Carly & 'Alani in Fiji

Fiji, A Great Place for a Peace Corps Holiday

The following might sound like a travel brochure, or maybe even that I was bribed by the Fijian government to write this article. But, whatever you might believe, the truth is that Fiji is an extraordinary destination that should not be missed during a Peace Corps tour in the South Pacific.

Some might believe that Samoa, Vanuatu, or some other Pacific island destination would be a better choice in terms of money and scenery, but while I can’t comment on those destinations, I can confirm that Fiji can be done on the cheap, if you are thrifty with your Peace Corps pa’anga. It might be true that Samoa or Vanuatu are somewhat cheaper in terms of food and lodging, but if you add in the difference in flight fares I believe that it will all work out for nearly the same price, especially right now since the tourism numbers are low due to the coup—great deals are just waiting to be negotiated. To get there Air Pacific runs three flights a week to Suva (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) and three flights a week to Nadi (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday), each for a reasonable $TOP 685. But that’s just the beginning.

To save some cash once you get there think about staying with some other Peace Corps volunteers. This can make you some new friends, allow you to learn about the Peace Corps experience in another country, and let you mooch off someone else in the process. When I traveled to Fiji in 2006 I made some great friends, most of whom were still there when I went back last month. It was really great to talk about our experiences; all the love and frustration that seem universal to any PC volunteer’s service. Visiting volunteers can also help you to learn where the best places to eat are, great things to see, and find out about activities that are off the beaten path. Carly and I were able to visit a microbrewery for some great beer and pizza at a place that we never would have found otherwise.

Suva is a great city. Well, it seems really big after being in Tonga for nearly two years. The population of Suva is about 400,000, nearly four times as many people as in all of Tonga. You can pretty much get anything you need here, and get it cheap. Carly and I even found a place called Cost-u-Less that was eerily similar to a Sam’s Club from America. You can have a great curry for under $5, and then go catch a movie at the six-screen Cineplex, a lovely treat after Tonga’s theater was so viciously burned last November. Finally, for all of you craving a treat from home, yes, Fiji does have a McDonalds and a KFC.

After a late night at one of Suva’s great night clubs or bars (for all of you who are interested Guiness is available on tap), head west to Pacific Harbor on the Coral Coast and spend a relaxing Sunday at a super-fancy resort called The Pearl. If the waterfall flowing down the mirror behind the bar doesn’t blow you away, then perhaps the live jazz on the patio in between the fabulous pool and the pristine beach will. For any runners out there, you know Carly and I can’t travel without putting in the miles, check out the Pac Harbor Hash House Harriers and join them for a relaxing run through jungle hills and mangrove swamps followed by beer guzzling and a nice meal. Did I mention that it’s a drinking club with a running problem?

After Pacific Harbor head west to Sigatoka where you can stay with more PC volunteers, or crash at a backpackers 10k outside of the city. $20 per person will get you a pretty nice bungalow just steps from the beach. Sigatoka itself is full of cheap eats and yummy treats, but head 5k or so west and check out the Sigatoka sand dunes. These dunes are like small mountains, especially after being in Tonga, and you can get an amazing view of the surrounding countryside and ocean with outlying islands, or, if you are really lucky, perhaps even find ancient relics buried in the sand for thousands of years. Check out the visitor center’s collection of these artifacts.

A trip to Fiji wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Robinson Crusoe island. This backpacker island will run you about $70 a day, but includes lodging, all meals (which are really *&^%$ing good), and various free activities to keep you entertained. While we were there Carly and I were able to go fishing from a kayak, make jewelry, watch a Fijian cultural show, drink kava, play crazy games, and go kayaking through a mangrove swamp followed by a mud fight. The staff goes out of its way to keep you happy and keep you from being bored, but if you just want to lounge in a hammock on the beach you are also welcome to do that as well.

The icing on the cake that is called Fiji would have to be a trip to the Mamanuca or Yasawa islands. These island groups are off the west coast of the main island of Fiji, a couple hour boat ride from Nadi. You can stay in backpacker resorts on most of these islands, and most of them include meals and activities though you do have to pay your own way there. Carly and I did a daylong sailing trip through the Mamanucas, which included a champagne brunch, drinks, a scrumptious barbeque, snorkeling, and trips to two different deserted islands. And did I mention free drinks? The Mamanuca island group is where the movie Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks, was filmed. I found myself wishing that the boat would sink so would be stranded there for a month or so. These islands offer all the perfect postcard worthy beauty and scenery that one would expect from a tropical South Pacific paradise.

‘Alani Ratliff

Mon, Feb 19, 2007; The Amazing Race Tonga & Other News

'Alani giving some kids a piggyback ride during the Amazing Race Tonga

Carly & 'Alani at Friend's Cafe during the Amazing Race

Hello Everyone!!

Wow - life has been very busy but very fun here in Tonga!! And, of course, rewarding!!

As for my job, it is going very well despite many challenges along the way. We currently have 11 students enrolled in the classroom and just this afternoon we got approval from the school PTA committee to use the school photocopier and they approved us to buy supplies for the class. The PTA usually provides all the teachers with white paper and glue to cover the walls with and maybe some chart paper in order to make posters with. The previous principal had refused to let us use the copier or to get supplies from the PTA because some of our students are not from the school district, but she left to work at another school last Monday so the acting principal said that we could ask for supplies from the PTA at the meeting today. Lesieli (the teacher I am working with) presented our case to the committee (my Tongan is definately not that good!) and they approved us - yeah!! It makes us feel much more welcomed at our school, which is nice. And now we will be able to cover up last year's mess - i mean work - and make our classroom our own. And we can photocopy things! Yeah!

Another wonderful thing that happened of the parents of a student in our class came up to me before the meeting to tell me how happy she is because now her son knows his name and can spell and write his own name and he is happy to come to school and wants to come everyday and is making friends. Her son had actually already been "attending" school at NGele'ia G.P.S. (where I teach) for 2 years but he would always run away from class and no one would ever stop him or go get him. The teachers would just be happy he was gone. So now he is just learning how to write his name and all that but he comes to school every day and even stays after in the afternoons. It's great to see the kids progressing already! However we are encountering a lot of transportation issue and accessibility issues with some of our students. One of the teachers at the school asked if we would accept his niece into the program, which of course we said yes to, but unfortunately she is in a wheelchair and so it is very difficult for her to get to the classroom - she has to cross a rocky field and then get up a big step onto the veranda outside our room and then another step inside. To go to the bathroom she has to go back down the two steps, across the field and then up a step into the toilet area and into the bathroom where there is no such thing as a handicapped stall. It takes two people to get her wheelchair across the field which means we either have to recruit parents who are outside the classroom to help us get her to the bathroom whenever she has to go and it is a long process for her to even get to class in the morning. We have another student who isn't in a wheelchair but could really benefit from a walker, although I have never seen a walker anywhere in Tonga, so alas she does not have one. She is extremely unsteady on her feet and unable to climb up and down the step to our classroom unassisted and pretty much falls at least 5 times a day going over all the rocks and up and down the step, etc. Accessibility issues and lack of materials such as books and paper and crayons and pencils are definately big challenges, as is the concept here that disabled children cannot learn...however I feel like people are already pleased with the work that we are doing with the students in our class and the teachers seem interested in learning more techniques for working with different students and using sign language for learning, etc. It's very exciting!!

In other work news, Malakai (my supervisor) and I are working on funding proposals for an Early Intervention Program, a Case Management and Referral Management System, Teacher In-Service Trainings, Week-long Teacher Workshops throughout Tonga, a Special Education Resource Center, hosting an International Teachers Conference in Tonga, post-school vocational training, Inclusive/Special Education adaptive and assistive technologies, retro-fitting the school buildings and local businesses being re-built after the riots with wheelchair accessibility and a public awareness campaign including fun runs and a children's fair and a christmas show. Like I said, it has been busy!!
NOW...onto the fun stuff!
This weekend I participated in a very fun event....The Amazing Race Tonga!! It was soooooo fun!! We were in 9 teams of 2 and it was a two day event. My teammate 'Alani (Alan) and I comprised the only full Peace Corps team and then one other team was an Australian volunteer and a Peace Corps girl. All of the organizers were Australian and some of the other teams, and there was a Tongan team and a team of Japanese volunteers and a couple from New Zealand that I think run a business here. Anyways, we started at 10:00 with pre-race interviews - we all made up stories about our characters - 'Alani was a redneck truck driver and i was a spaced out hippie girl who fell asleep in his truck and didn't even know that we were in a race, i just kept making peace signs everywhere we went. One other team's story was that he was a priest and she was a nun and they had a baby together and she wore a t-shirt with a big A on it for the whole game, another group dressed up in traditional Tongan dress with fake gold teeth and pregnant bellies and called themselves The Fakapikopikos (lazies), etc. You get the idea.

Anyways.... here was our race course...
1. We started at the Australian High Commission and had to bike over to the market by the wharf and look for a clue box hidden in one of the stalls (keep in mind the market was happened at this time so it was quite crowded), the clue told us to buy a coconut and bring it back to race central (the Aussie High Com).

2. Once there we had to pick a teammate to do the next task. We picked 'Alani - he had to break open the coconut and then eat the whole thing and then we got the next clue.

3. The next clue told us to bike to Teufava Stadium where we had to find the clue box. The clue was to choose to either each kick two field goals or to each catch 3 crickets balls hit by Todd (one of the organizers). Since 'Alani wasn't wearing shoes we decided to go with the cricket balls, and yes - i caught 3 in a row!! Yippee!!

4. The clue we got after that was written in difficult Tonga so we had to get someone to translate. It also contained a picture. Apparently it told us to go find the place where the sign is and take our picture there and then go to some guy's house (Polokavia Faka-something or whatever) in Tofoa. Well, we went searching around the city for about half an hour before someone could tell us where the sign was because of course the one clue written in Tongan pointed us to a school where hardly any Tongans attend that is maybe 2 miles out of the city. It is the Bahai School where luckily one of my friends work because otherwise the only directions we got were "go that way and turn left after a while - oiaue!!). Once we got there (now dropped down from 1st place to 4th place) we took our picture and were about to leave when 'Alani decided to ask at the falekoloa (little store) if they knew the guy who's house we were supposed to find. At the store the man told us the house belonged to the brother of the security guard at the Bahai school so we went back to the Bahai school to find directions. The brother, Sione, was missing but some teachers thought they knew the way but then just kept telling us it was too hard to give directions and then wanting to chat with us about America!! I don't know why it was so hard because when they eventually drew the map it was just take the back road to Tofoa and turn right across from the mango tree at the third dirt road after the primary school. Those are actually really good and really simple tongan directions. Most are far more confusing than that since most roads don't have names.

5. Once we got to the house we had to show them our picture from the Bahai school and they gave us a clue that pointed us back to the Aussie High Commission

6. At the High Com, the person who didn't eat the coconut (me) had to either drinks 2 liters of cordial or eat 8 passion fruit. I went for the passion fruit and ate them quite quickly if i do say so myself. Then we got a clue to search the High Com grounds for a number to determine the order of our send-off.

7. Once everyone arrived (some over an hour after us, the Bahai school threw everyone off), they blindfolded us one team at a team and drove us in circles and eventually dropped us off at a kava house where we had to sit in the kava circle and drink a full cup of kava and then we were given a soduko puzzle to complete and then find our way back to the High Com. Luckily 'Alani love soduko so he finished it in record time with me piping in with maybe 3 numbers, we ran back to the High Com.

8. At the High Com they showed us a picture of a statue of three dolphins and we had to go find it - again, luckily 'Alani has been here for almost 2 years now so he knew the statue - over by the wharf and we biked over.

9. There we were given the choice of three tasks:
Fast Forward - if you completed this task you got to skip all tasks and go to the end, however it was really a fake task and directed people to the Robert Lewis Stevenson museum in Samoa to go get the purple monkey statue. It didn't say it was in Samoa though, it just gave a town name. The funniest part though was that the only team who decided to go for that one was the Tongan team and they really should have known better!
Our other choices were to swim from one pier to the other and run back for your teammate or to bike to the NZ High Com and bike back for your teammate. I was willing to swim but 'Alani is super speedy on the bike and was anxious to go so i sent him off and he went flying out there and flying back.

10. Then we had to do a photo scavenger hunt throughout the city, taking pictures of about 20 different things such as a live pig, a virgin mary statue, a teammate shaking hands with a military officer, a teammate giving a child a piggy-back ride, a peanut seller giving one of your teammates peanuts, a bougainvillea flower, the Bahai National Office (one of the organizers is Bahai), a picture of us in Friend's Cafe, a "Pass the Palm, Please" advertisement, etc.

11. Once the photos were done we had to bring them to the High Com for approval where we were then given a bunch of letters and told to make 2 words in order to figure out where to go next. This took forever but eventually it spelled out "Pointy Pescine" which we figured out meant the Billfish (the local pub) and so we raced over there on our bikes and 'Alani and I won the first day!!

The second day we all took the boat over to Pangaimotu, a "resort-ish" palongi island nearby so that we could continue playing without being too scandolous in Tonga where you are not supposed to play games or do any physical activity on a Sunday. These were the Sunday events:
1. Table tennis - we had to pick a person first and so I decided to give it a try before i knew the task. Then i was doing terribly because i've never really played table tennis before so they let us switch it up. Everyone is always talking about how good 'Alani is at table tennis, but he wasn't doing that well so then we switched table sides and he immediately won. There was a lot of wind that day and i guess i had picked the bad side, so maybe my table tennis skills aren't so terrible - i did almost win the firrst match.

2. Darts - we had to score an exact total of 57 points with 3 darts to move on. Eventually they let us aim for the first P in championship and if you got that it counted for 57 points. I got it on my second try - yippee! even i was amazed!!
3. Scavenger Hunt around the island - we had to find 6 parts of a picture hidden around the island. This killed us because we went the opposite way from most people and the second to last clue was virtually impossible and we spent ovr 30 minutes looking for it but apparently some other people went to complain so after we gave up and moved on they put up a big arrow pointing everyone else to it so it only took like a minute when we went back to go get it. grr. one clue was buried in the sand, the hard one was inside a tree trunk, one was hidden in this nasty swamp area, another in the mangrove trees, etc.

4. Once we got all the pictures we brought them back to race central and completed the picture and then had to do the following:
- the limbo
- write a song that had to rhyme and be at least 60 seconds long and contain the following words: Kylie, orange, purple, faka'ofo'ofa, fakapikopiko, hippopatumus, puaka, etc - you get the idea & then perform the song and dance for the judges
- swim out to the ship wreck and climb at least halfway up and jump off (this was a little scary but i did it! several people cut up their feet on it thoug)
- swing on the rope swing out to water
- swim out to the floating dock, climb on, dive off, and swim back
- complete a coconut shot put event and the coconut had to land inside a circle that we couldn't even see!- hop around the volleyball courts
- run to the end of the pier and dive off
- swim in to the finish!!
In the end 'Alani and I got fourth but we like to think we won the more important day!! No matter what it was soooo much fun and I am definately doing it or helping set it up if they do it again!! It was especially interesting for me since i've never seen the amazing race and haven't truly been on a bike since i was about 14 years old so i had no idea what was going on and was not very used to being on a bike so much. I bought my bike friday and then just went for it. woo-hoo!!

If anyone would like a copy of the DVD that they are making of the event, please let me know. Also, if i can ever find my cord to download pictures with, I will try to post some of the event. And if you want to play your own personal amazing race game when you come to visit i can totally make that happen!


Mon, Jan 29, 2007; TONGAN VACATION

Singing Kareoke on my birthday with Poki and Ada

Hello Everyone!

I hope that you all have had a wonderful start to the New Year! It has been extremely hectic over here in Tonga so I have had some trouble finding time to send an update, and unfortunately I think I have to be quick today as well because I am waiting in the Peace Corps office to go to the wharf with 2 of my friends who are leaving for their permanent site today - the island of Namuka which is a 6-8 hour boat ride away from any other sort of mainland (boats only go once a week and even that depends on the weather) and has electricity only for a few hours at night and only one town phone. They are pretty nervous about going to such a remote location but also very excited for the adventure!
Anyways, first of all...I wanted to let you all now my school vacation schedule so that if anyone plans on taking any vacations to Tonga (hello - i live in the South Pacific and you could stay with me for free!), you will know when I am available to hang out. Of course, you can just come at a different time and just use me for my accommodations - i'm really OK with that as long as you buy me dinner just once! :)
OK - here are my vacation dates (as long as nothing gets changed, which is never a guarantee here):

* Friday, April 6 - Monday, April 9 (4-day weekend for easter)
* Saturday, April 28th - Sunday, May 13 (2 weeks - School holiday)
* Saturday, August 18 - Sunday, September 2 (2 weeks - School Holiday)
* Saturday, December 8 - Sunday, January 20 (6 weeks - Christmas Holidays)

The best way to get here is to fly into Auckland and then fly over to Tonga. If you look up flights directly to Tonga they are ridiculously expensive, but you can find flights for a decent price to Auckland and then it's only a couple hundred or so to fly for Auckland to Tonga.

Alright, as far as other news goes, I have spent the last 3 weeks working with 2 Australian volunteers to train one of the Tongan teachers to work in a Special Education class. One of the volunteers from Australia is an Occupational Therapist who was working with Lesieli (the Tongan teacher) on techniques for teaching Handwriting; and the other volunteer is a Hearing Impaired Specialist who has been working to teach Lesieli and I Australian Sign Language (and yes it is different from American Sign Language - or at least the alphabet is - not a single letter was the same!) because we are going to be working with at least one deaf student. I am going to be working directly in the classroom with Lesieli to continue to train her on how to work with students with Special Needs and to train the other teachers at the school and continue to develop the program. I will also be working to expand this program beyond the pilot classroom and, hopefully (fingers crossed) create a training program for all of the teachers in Tonga to learn basic techniques for working with Students with Special Needs and to create an IEP system and service system throughout Tonga. It is very exciting but a lot of work! Today was our first day of school and I am totally exhausted!

As for other news, tomorrow I finally move into my house. It is in the main city of Nuku'alofa on the island of Tongatapu. Nuku'alofa is the capital of Tonga and the biggest city in Tonga, although it is still very small compared to American cities. My house is quite large and has 2 bedrooms - plenty of room for visitors.

Ooops - my friends are about to leave so I must go, but I will write more sometime soon!
Happy Thoughts Everyone!-carly (kali - i changed my Tongan name!)

Tues, Jan 9, 2007; TONGAN PHONE NUMBER

Recieving my certificate to official make me a Peace Corps Volunteer

Carly and Karen - juggling masters!!

Hello all!

Hope you are all doing well and enjoying the new year! I am officially a Peace Corps Volunteer now. We had our swearing-in ceremony on January 4th after 10 weeks of training and then I actually started work the very next day (I am the only one who has had to start already and I am very tired so this will be brief). Our swearing-in ceremony was lovely. It was held at a resort in the village next to where we had our first 2 week homestay. The restaurant overlooks the water and is very very beautiful. We had people from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Ministry of the Environment there to welcome us to our work in Tonga. Our host families from Ha'atafu all came and other friends of Peace Corps and the volunteers who stay in Tongatapu. It was a beautiful ceremony and my Team Koulo group and I got to perform our juggling dance. (Did I tell you I've learned to juggle since being in Tonga? I can only juggle fruit though, I've never tried anything else)

The day after the swearing-in ceremony those of us staying in Tongatapu had our supervisor's meeting where we met our new supervisor's and discussed what our role in the organizations will be. As I think I said before, I will be working with a man named Malakai (Sonny is his nickname) in order to develop a Special Education program for Tonga. I will be working directly in the classroom with a Tongan teacher in order to train her on working with Special Education students and develop an inclusive Special Education program that fits in with the school system and culture in Tonga. I am really excited about this opportunity and having the chance to be part of such an exciting change in the education system here. Work has already been hectic - today alone I met with the Tongan teacher who will be in the classroom, with an Australian volunteer who will be teaching us Australian sign since one of the children is profoundly deaf, an Australian volunteer who is an OT and will work maybe once a week with the kids until she leaves in March, and then I had 4 parent meetings and met with my supervisor! They are keeping me on my toes!

In other exciting news, it looks like I will have a home by the end of the week (after they clean out all the rubbish from inside - and I literally mean piles of rubbish were inside the house - why is that necessary? yuck!) It is a house owned by the Ministry of Education - 2 bedroom, indoor bathroom, and a very large kitchen/dining room/other room and a living room. It even has a mini-fridge and a mini-stove!! I'm excited but I have no idea how I will fill all that space - guess you will all have to visit me a lot!

Here is my new info:

Phone Number: 011-676-879-2284 (hint hint - it's my b-day tomorrow - january 10th here - so you better call me!!)

Address (stays the same):
Carly Anderson, PCV
Peace Corps Office
PO Box 147
Nuku'alofa, Tonga
South Pacific

(How cool is it that I live in the South Pacific??)

toki sio!!

Sat, Dec 23, 2006; HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

Merry Christmas - Tongan style!

hi everyone!!
i just wanted to wish you all HAPPY HOLIDAYS!! i hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season and that you have great christmases, or hannakuhs and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

i will be spending my holiday going to church with my host family and then eating a feast and then maybe going to the beach and then going into town to have a little party with the other peace corps volunteers (our group of 15) and then going back home for a barbecue and maybe singing. it should be lovely. today i am also going to be spending the afternoon baking tons of cookies for my host family. i hope they like cookies!! it is kind of nice to be someplace that is totally lacking the commercialism of christmas and nobody really gives presents or anything. it's just about being with your family, which is nice!

in other news...i found out my placement site on friday. drum roll please!!
i will be spending the next two years working in the main city of Nuku'alofa on the island of Tongatapu. I will be working at the Ministry of Education helping to create a Special Education program for Tonga. Primarily I will be working to train one other teacher to teach in the first Special Ed classroom which will become the model classroom for the rest of Tonga. It is really exciting to be able to be a part of such an important addition to the education system here, so i am very excited! i also might be able to help the Ministry of Health in promoting running and their daily 30 minute walk for health after work program. They hold walks for 30 minutes after the work day along the beach by the main city. I"m thinking I will try to get some people from tthe group to start running. There is also a possibility I might be helping to recruit and train athletes for the upcoming South Pacific Games as well, although I might be too busy with the Special Education job at first.

I will send everyone my updated contact information when I get it.



Thurs, Dec 7, 2006; GO TEAM KOULO!!

Team Koulo - Karen (Keleni), Sarah (Sela), Me (Kali), Jessica (Sesi), & Tasi - our fearless leader

hi all!!
just a brief message to brag about how TEAM KOULO (my village language group team) won the Tongan Jeapardy contest yesterday!! GO TEAM!! we are all over the tongan language, let me tell you! the competition was fierce, but we overcame the odds to gain the lead and hold steady! and now we are the champs!! hip hip hooray!! malie, malie, malie!!

in other championship news, the combined holopeka-koulo rugby team (which i am obviously not at all a part of as it is for men and involves a certain amount of aggression which i do not possess) won saturday's game versus pangai (the main town). go koulo!! my brothers are all on the team, well actually one is on the team, one is the water boy and the others hang out with the team as an excuse to drink a lot of kava after the games.

i also saw the world's fattest pig this past week - think 3 chins, AND i have continued to manage to avoid getting scabies (the scabes as we affectionately call it over here).

also interesting, in the tongan language there is word for wanting to eat someone else's food (uakai), eating food on the sly (kaipo - you are supposed to share all food sot his is really offensive), eating standing up (kaitu'u) and stuffing your mouth (faka'afa'afa) but no word for being early or feeling frustrated. interesting, huh!
toki sio (see you later!)
carly (keli)

Backtracking - Thurs, Nov 30, 2006

Jessica (Sesi), Lupe, Manatu, Me, Karen (Keleni), and Moala kneeling down

Hey all!
Ok first of all...

Please write me letters:

Carly Anderson, PCV
Peace Corps Office
PO Box 147
Nuku'alofa, Tonga
South Pacific

now, time for a long info packed update...

Tues after writing before the riots - we took a 10 hour boat ride from tongatapu to ha'api and our host families met us at the dock at 3am!! what nice people!! they also insisted on feeding me (of course - tongans are all about the food!) before i went to bed. my host family includes:
my father Livai - the town officer
my mother Manatu
bro - Maikolo (age 26, works in the bush/farm, getting married next week i think)
sis - Lupe (age 24, LOVES tongan basketball which is quite different from american basketball)
bro - Sione (lives in tongatapu)
cousin - Aisea (age 24, likes to tell me that things are called names that are completely wrong - like for days i was calling cereal veve which means garbage)
sis - Moala (age 20, goes running with me on the airport every morning and is very nice and friendly)
bro - Nui (age 16, obsessed with Uno the card game that i brought with me - i've created a monster!)
sometimes some other little cousins hang around as well.

wed - after a little bit of sleep at my new host-home, i helped my host family gather leaves from the ocean that they will be using to weave a wedding mat because their son is getting married, then i went swimming with the sisters and we sang Sound of Music songs at the top of our lungs and it was fabulous! then we ate, of course, since that's a major part of life in tonga, and then they taught me how to weave baskets out of coconut leaves - i managed to make one basket!!
thurs - my host sister volunteered to run with me in the mornings and guess where we run - the airport runway!! as long as a plane isn't coming in. then we had school all day in the main town of Pangai (very small, only one restaurant, 2 computers, etc) and then i walked back home with my friend karen - it takes us 40 minutes to get home. We are in the furthest village out but i love it. it's a great excuse to walk a lot. at night we just planned lessons for our crazy community teaching - basically we have to just round up some kids from the town and we teach them.

fri - Moala and i ran to the end of the island in the morning - it was soooo beautiful. really amazing. then language class (we just have lang. classes with our little village group of 4 on mon, tues, thurs, and fri mornings and then planning time in the afternoons). in the afternoon we walked to town and hung out a little and then had American night at the one restaurant in town. the current volunteers joined us and we were all together so it was fun to just catch up and here more about our peace corps service. and eat pizza! when i got home i did some more weaving with my host mom and sis

sat - walk to town for email and then walk back for lunch and then walk back to town to watch rugby and then walk back home. on our way home though we stopped to go swimming, fully clothed of course. i'm talking long skirts and shirts here. it was so much fun!! then i swam more with my family when i got back home. and then introduced my family to Uno and played into the wee hours of the night

sun - eat, church, eat, sleep and read, church, eva pe (wander around) to the airport to weigh ourselves on the luggage scales, eat, sleep (that is seriously all you are allowed to do on sundays!!)

mon - lang class, planning for community teaching, walk to twon and back, and more planning (not too exciting - sorry!)

tues - lang class, crazy crazy crazy community teaching - firecrackers were involved - it was insanity!! ahhh, but then i had a nice walk with another volunteer, oh and scandal of all scandals - i was left to talk with my host cousin in the dining area on our own for like half an hour - that probably means that the entire island thinks we are getting married now!

wed - class in pangai, lots of walking and swimming in the wonderful ocean - by the way we are surrounded by coral reefs about a mile out so we don't have any waves breaking on us or anything - just beautiful clear water!!
thurs - lang, walk to town and plan at the restaurant and then meet with the teaching team so that we can help with the teaching lessons, then i did work at home and my whole family helped me make posters and such

fri - church at 5 am, run, lang, HAPPY THANKSGIIVNG at home, no luck with teaching the community - so we went swimming - yippee!! baking with other volunteers and then join my family at the mormon dance - ahhh! too wierd!! and my family is totally into dressing me up in lots of flowers and such and spraying me with lots of perfume because they want me to marry a tongan boy. sat - walk to town, watch some tongan basketball and rugby, and i cannot remember at all what happened after that - i didn't write it down - sorry. oh wait, i remember - THANKSGIVING!! it was fantastic!! so much yummy food and after we played triominos for a long time, which was also great. thanksgiving dinner was held at the volunteers house on the beach!! it was great!! and we had turkey and stuffing, and cranberry sauce and everything!!

sun - eat, church, eat, sleep, church, eva pe, eat, sleep - like i said, that's all we do on sundays!!
mon - lang class, go to town, play hookey from church with my host sister and go swimming - i taught all the kids how to play marco polo - it was wicked fun!!, then just planning by candlelight because the electricity was inexplicably off possibly to conserve deisel

tues - lang, teach community youth about fruits and vegetables - it was much much much better this time - maybe because the rainkept the wild ones away!! then of course, lots of uno with my family, oh and planning to teach all the volunteers how to set up classroom management plans in one hour - zoiks!!
wed - classes in pangai where i taught a session with 2 other volunteers on classroom management since we are the only ones with teaching experience - everyone asked us to stay after to answer more questions for about 2 hours - they are all so nervous!!

thurs - pouring rain!! it was crazy!! i even skipped my morning runway run!! this post-poned our coooking lesson that was supposed to happen this AM because the cooking happens outside. sai pe! (Just fine, it's OK) we still had a lovely lang class and then a very nice walk to town and time to update my emails.

and tomorrow we are cooking spaghetti dinner at a volunteers house and watching a movie!! wow!! i'm soooo excited!!

alright, i must go now. sorry this was so long, next time i'll just keep it to the major points. i just get so excited about everything we are doing and learning. it's great!!

oh and everyone needs to start planning to visit either in may or august or next december/january.

happy thoughts all!-carly (keli in tongan)

Happy Thanksgiving 2006

Thanksgiving Dinner Tongan Style!!

I hope that you are all having a wonderful holiday!!
Eat lots of turkey and stuffing and cranberry bread and apple pie and pumpkin pie and all that good stuff for me!! We will be having a thanksgiving celebration on Saturday here in Tonga but we don't have a lot of the American foods so you have to fill up on it for me. :)

Pass on the good cheer if I missed anyone!

Backtracking - Thurs, Nov 23, 2006

Hi Everyone,

I'm pretty sure this never reached American news, but just in case I thought I would send an update on the situation here. On the main island of Tongatapu, in the city of Nuku'alofa, there have been some riots and demonstrations against the government. Here's the news from what I can gather. Right now, the Kingdom of Tonga is ruled by a monarchy system. The King has the ultimate power and appoints all of the ministers including the Prime Minister. Additionally, although there is a Parliament, a majority of the seats are reserved for nobles - i think 15 out of 25 seats or something like that - but the nobles are only a group of 30 famililes in Tonga, representing a very small percentage of the people. A majority (it seems) of the people in Tonga would like this system to be reformed so as to be more democratic. They would like the king to become more of a figure head, like in England, and for the people to be given more seats in Parliament and for the Prime Minister to be elected by the Parliament. On Thursday, the government voted on these reforms, and due to the majority in Parliament being from the noble class, they did not pass the reforms. Thousands of people had been gathered on the Parliament lawn for the vote and when they heard the news they stormed the Parliament building and the Parliament members had to run away. Then the angry mob went into town and started burning down all the stores in Nuku'alofa, mostly the Chinese run stores because there is also all this tension between the Chinese families and the Tongans because the last King had tried to sell Tongan passports to raise funds for the country and many, many, many Chinese families bought passports to Tonga and moved to Tonga in an effort to then be able to apply for citizenship to the United States as a Tongan national so the Tongan people then felt that they had less opportunity to come to the United States. And to add to the hurt, as all this happened, the USA started making immigration more difficult and to counter the influx of TOngan applications, then allowed fewer people to come to the US from TOnga. (This is all what I have just gathered from talking to people so I may be wrong on some things, but that is the basic gist). So anyways, on Thursday the demonstraters started burning buildings and they attacked the Shoreline officers which are owned by the government and control the electricity and phone lines and internet, etc. Six people were killed at the Shoreline offices and maybe 2 others elsewhere. And, because it was so dry, pretty much all of Nuku'alofa seems to have been affected by the fires. WHich is crazy becuase that's where I was on Tuesday.

NOW THE GOOD NEWS...I am, thankfully, no longer on the island of TOngatapu. On tuesday night we left for Ha'api and so I am safely away on another island a 10 hour boat ride away. ALso, the government voted again and has decided to go through with the reforms so the demonstrations and riots have stopped and everything has calmed down in Nuku'alofa. We were totally unaffected by any of this up here in Ha'api. Peace Corps made announcements on the radio stations for all the PEace COrps people in TOngatapu to stay home and came to check on us so everyone on the streets and in the towns were making sure we were ok, but it was all sai pe (just fine). here everyone is just happy and calm and nice. and we had american night last night and ate pizzas and acted american.

Ok, i should let some other people use the computer.

real quick, on my first day here i learned to weave a basket from a coconut leaf. fun!

CHeers everyone!!-carly

Backtracking - Homestay in Ha'atafu

A cousin, Leti (the bride), and Siu (my other host sister)

Hi Everyone!!

Well, today my host family is having the giant wedding feast which i was a little worried would be very overwhelming and tiresome, but luckily Sarah Kate and I got a ride to church from Noa and Jacinta, two of our trainers, and they decided to leave church early to go to the Peace Corps office to do work (which turns out to mean take a nap at the office) and so Sarah Kate and I got to come here and check email. The weddings here are much different than in America. The bride and groom came to the church today to have their marriage blessed, but it is not a special service just for them, it is part of the regular Sunday service and appeared as though it was going to be maybe 3 hours long. (I was falling asleep - i had no idea what was going on). Also, most of the family did not even attend the church service. We were there but we didn't know anyone else in the service. The rest of the family was still back home cooking I guess. Last night I kept asking if I could help cook for the big feast today and they kept telling me it's OK, just sit down and take a rest and then finally at about 11:00 at night someone told me that they don't actually start cooking until 3:30 or 4:00am so that the food doesn't get cold for the feast. So they told me to go to sleep and they would wake me to help cook but no one ever did. I got up at 6 to help but I just kept getting waved away. I don't think they trust me. Anyways, although it might be nice to see a traditional Tongan wedding, we didn't really know what was going on and Sarah Kate has been sick the last two days (so I was by myself trying to figure out how I could help the family and sitting with them while they all gossiped in Tongan) so having a chance to come someplace quiet and just email is really, really, really nice.
ok, here is information about our training schedule (a lot of people were asking me):

october 28th-october 30th: Arrival in Nuku'alofa
october 30th-november 14th: Homestay in Ha'atafu
november 15th-december 27th: Homestay in Ha'api
december 27th-january 4th: wrap-up and swearing in ceremony in Nuku'alofa

We are currently in Ha'atafu which is on the island of TOngatapu (the main island where the city of Nuku'alofa is). As I said, we are staying with families in pairs and all day long (8:30-5:00) we have language class, safety and security sessions, health class, and teacher training. We also spent one afternoon going to a neighborhood school and observing the classes. We then have an optional language class at night from 7-8 (I will be attending as often as possible). Here is some Tongan for those interested (some vowels have accents which I can't type in, so it is not exactly right):

Malo e lelei = Hello (literally Congratulations on being well!)
Fefe hake? = How are you doing?
Sai pe. = Just fine.
Sai 'aupito = Very good
Totoatu = Excellent
Kovi = Bad
Alu a = Goodbye to the person leaving
nofo a = goodbye to the person staying
toki sio = see you later
Malo e lelei ki he pongipongi ni = Good morning

Now, about the most homes the toilet is in one room (no sink) and the shower in another room and these two rooms are usually sort of attached to the house by a covered walkway, but outside. More modern houses have them inside. Also, at my host families home they have this kind of outdoor cooking area that they seem to have added outside their home. AND (this is the wierdest part) the men sleep outside the houses as a sign of respect for the women. At my home, the men sleep in a little house in the yard, but in some other homes they just sleep on the ground outside. There is a brother in the family named Leo but I have only seen him briefly once or twice as he runs inside to get his food or something. Also, the families rarely ever eat with us...they feed us and then wait for us to finish and eat outside or in a different area when we are done.

Ok, I think maybe I should check to see if the others are awake now. Wow, it just started raining really really hard!!

Please let me know if you would like to be taken off this list!

Backtracking - Homestay in Ha'atafu

Sarah Kate and Carly on the beach at Ha'atafu

Hi Everyone!!

Here is an update on life in Tonga - it's a little wordy (and i was writing fast so the writing is not good) so bear with me...

We got to Tonga on saturday and stayed at a guest house in nuku'alofa saturday thru monday. on saturday afternoon we just dropped off our stuff and then went to the peace corps office for a traditional kava ceremony to welcome us. kava is a drink with possibly hallucinogenic properties (ours was very watered down but still made your mouth numb) and they told us this whole story about how the king went to this island with all his troops and the family there did not have enough food to feed the king so they killed their only daughter, named kava, to cook for the king and when the king heard he was touched and just said to make the oven her grave and he left with his troops so the family didn't have to feed them. and then this plant grew from her grave and the family sent it to the king and they made the kava drink from it and it is used in formal occasions. to show the humility and sacrifice of the tongan people. it was interesting. tastes like muddy water but does make your mouth feel funny. after the kava some peace corps volunteers that have been on the island for a while did a traditional dance for us. it is very similar to hula dancing but they were covered in baby oil and people stick money on them. then we walked into town with some of the other peace corps volunteers and they showed us where some things were (ie - the internet cafe and where to buy calling cards).

The next day was sunday so we went to church with the peace corps trainers (religion is very important in Tonga so on Sundays everything shuts down for the most part). Some people went to the catholic church, some to the church of tonga, and some to the king's church - the Free Wesleyan Church. that is the one that I went to. The new king was there at the front of the church with his family and everyone was wearing black in honor of the previous king's death. Oh, and the men and women both wear these woven mats around their waists when they are dressed formally. it's the equivalent of wearing a tie. The men wear skirts and the women wear ankle-length skirts and shirts covering their shoulders and their hair up. And if they are in a special bible study group, they wear a red scarf around their necks. On Sundays all Tongans do is go to church and eat and go to church and eat, etc. so after church we went to the Peace Corps country directors house and had a feast. And then me and three other volunteers decided to walk back instead of drive so we had a nice 45 minute walk back to town along the beach. The only scary thing is the wild dogs but they didn't give us any problems - they are mostly afraid of people. After walking back to town I started to get ready for my homestay but then some other people said they were walking to the beach, so of course i went with them and then we ended up walking all over town and i joined another group walking some place for dinner and i didn't end up going back to the guest house until almost 8 or 9 at night. then i had to pack up because the next day i had to get some vaccines in the morning and then we had class all day (language class, safety and security, cultural class, and teaching class) and then we got in a bus and drove to another village for homestay.

We are currently staying in the village of Ha'atafu at the very end of the island of Tongotapu. It is a small village and we are staying with different families in the village in pairs. I am staying with a girl named Sarah Kate (also from connecticut - there are three of us in our group of 15 from connecticut and 3 current volunteers from connecticut- wierd, huh!) - she is really nice. Our family is really nice and kind of lets us do our own thing. They are very busy right now because the daughter in the family (Leti) is getting married. Last night they had a big feast for all of the bride's family - it was her time to say good-bye to all of her family. They made all this food and laid it all out of some mats and a cloth on the front porch and then all the family (and Peace Corps volunteers) ate (you have to sit on the floor while eating - i have to practice more so my legs don't cramp up) and listened to the family give speeches and then everyone else in town ate. One of the Peace Corps volunteers is a fire-spinner so he also did a show for everyone with his fire-spinning torches. The family literally stayed up all night long eating and talking, but Sarah Kate and I went to sleep because today we had an adventurous day.

Today was our drop-off day where the Peace Corps trainers take us somewhere on the island and our job is to find our way to the Peace Corps office in the main city by 12:00. My partner and I lucked out because we were here by 8:45. We were asking this nice woman when the bus came for Nuku'alofa and she said maybe 8:00 and then someone else pulled up in a car and she said "we go here" and we all got in with this nice man and his very elderly father and he drove us all into town (with a brief stop to pick up is sister from theology school where she is studying to be a missionary). so now we have many hours of free time to email!! yeah!!

What our homestay we do not have running water so it is all about the bucket bath. it's not bad though. we use rain water from outside the house and the water isn't too cold becuase it has been sitting in the sun during the day. On November 14th we take an overnight boat to another island group called Ha'api to do another homestay for 5 and a half weeks. Those islands are much smaller and more remote but they say we will have email access. i'm not so hopeful about the water situation though. At that homestay we will stay individually with families. And we will also have Christmas there. Then we come back to Nuku'alofa for about 1-2 weeks and then have our swearing in ceremony and find out where we will be living for the next 2 years. ahhh!!

ANother thing - supposedly the mail situation isn't that bad so feel free to send me presents. :)

Again, my address is:

Carly Anderson, PCV
Peace Corps
PO Box 147
Nuku'alofa, Tonga
South Pacific

Ok, that's all for now!!



Backtracking - Before leaving for Tonga

Hi Everyone!!

Well, my time here in Connecticut with my family is quickly flying by and very soon I will be leaving for a visit to Los Angeles, quick Peace Corps orientation, and then the long flight to Tonga!! I can't wait!! Those of you who have seen the way that I pack for vacations (and moving) will be shocked to know that I have already begun my packing and will probably finish tomorrow...that is if I can fit everything into my two bags. Do you have any idea how hard it is to pack for two years using two not-very-big bags?! 'Oiaue! (Tongan expression of grief, excitement or concern - just don't ask me how to say it!) Fakapo! (Tongan for Good heavens! or Good gracious!) When I am done perhaps I will say Malie! Malie! (Bravo, splendid, hurray!) Peace Corps sent me an introducation to Tongan language CD & booklet which I have been listening to while I pack, unfortunately I seem to be unable to retain any of what I have heard. Oh my!

Anyways, I am writing because I wanted to let everyone know that I now have an address - yippee! I think that once I go to my permanent location in January, my address may change, but for now feel free to write to me at this address. (In other words, I am strongly hinting again that I would like you all to write to me so that I can be like the cool kid in summer camp who gets all the letters! Oh yeah, and so that I can keep in touch with you and here all about all the fabulous things that you are all doing as well.) Here it is:

Carly Anderson, PCV
Peace Corps
PO Box 147
Nuku'alofa, Tonga
South Pacific

Peace Corps recommends that packages be sent in padded envelopes if possible, as boxes tend to be taxed and opened more frequently. Unfortunately it appears that there is a high incidence of theft and heavy customs taxes (past experience in foreign countries has taught me that the taxes can sometimes be more expensive than the articles inside the package.) The mail service is not as efficient as U.S. Postal Service so letters can take 2-4 weeks to arrive in Tonga. It is also suggested that all letters be numbered and dated so we can all see how long it takes a letter to get to Tonga and know if any letters are missing. Oh, and postcards should be sent in envelopes because otherwise it sounds like the post office just hangs them on the wall instead of delivering them. :)

Ok, that is it for mailing instructions. It also sounds like I will probably have access to email, just not every day - maybe once a month or so.

Happy Thoughts Everyone!!

Backtracking - First Reactions

September, 2006

Hi Everyone!!

I just wanted to let all of you know that I have accepted an invitation to be a Community Educator in the Kingdom of Tonga (an island chain in the South Pacific). YIPPEE!!! I'm very excited!!! And thanks to everyone who listened to my frustrations throughout the process. :) You're the best!!

I will be in Los Angeles for orientation on October 25-26th (and possibly earlier for a brief visit beforehand - maybe even a quick trip up to San Francisco in order to cheer all you Team in Training people on in the Nike Marathon - GO TEAM!!) and then I head out to the Tonga. My Tonga training will be from October 28 - January 6 and then I will serving as an official volunteer from January 7, 2007-2009. Wow that seems like a long time!! That means I will be arriving to my service placement all by myself right before my birthday (January 10th) and so I expect lots of birthday cards to make me feel happy (hint hint)!!

- here's a link to the Peace Corps site about the Tonga
- here's a link to the Wikipedia info on the Tonga
- It's an island chain of 170ish islands, only 30 of which are inhabitable
- It's VERY SMALL - all the islands put together have a land mass approximately the size of Dallas, Texas. So, yes, I will be running around the island a million times in order to reach my normal running distances. Should be interesting!- I will most likely be living on an outer island, most of which have a population of 300 - 700 people but some with less than 100 people on the island! Wow - what a change from LA!- I'm pretty sure it will be INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL and so you are all welcome to visit. It's south of the equator so the school's summer break is December-January. However we have some other breaks of a week or two at other times throughout the year. Other activities there include: whale-watching and swimming with the whales; snorkeling; scuba diving; hiking in the rainforests, caves and sinkholes; boating; relaxing; and eating a lot of food.
- Most places on the outer islands do not have internet connections/email access and many only have one communal telephone. It's time to brush up on your letter writing skills! I don't have an address in Tonga yet, but you can always write to me in Connecticut and my parents (hope you don't mind Mom and Dad) will forward it on. The address is:
Carly Anderson
99 Tumblebrook Drive
South Windsor, CT 06074

Good looks like I will be doing a variety of things such as:
-Teaching English as a Second Language (I will be in the classrooms 50% of the time)
- Modeling different teaching techniques
- Helping schools with curriculum development, improving operational systems, and acquiring resources such as books and computers where possible.
- Teaching Health Education - mostly information on nutrition, dental health and hygeine, exercise and physical fitness (I'm hoping I can start a running club!), early childhood development, and water and sanitation
- Teaching Environmental Education - things such as conservationism, recycling, the importance of environmental protection, and the benefits of eco-tourism

NOW, here's an assignment for you...please send me your address (even if you think I already know it) so that I can write to you. I'll probably be doing a lot more writing since I won't have a TV or computer to keep me entertained, and I may not even be able to run (ahhhh!) if it's culturally inappropriate - I'll be going nutty!
Happy Thoughts Everyone!!-Carly

Group 72 Arrives in Tonga

This was our group when we first arrived in Tonga. We are wearing all black because it was still within the first 100 days after the King died. The volunteers that live on the island of Tongatapu all met us at the airport and showered us with leis (kahoa in Tongan). It was a great day!!

Backtracking - Oct-Nov, 2006

October-November, 2006

Hello everyone!!

I know I've been writing so much (much more than I had expected!), but we have some extra time again today so I thought I would send out an update.First of all, here is a brief re-cap of all that we have done:

Sat, Oct. 28: PC Group 72 (that's us!) arrived in Tonga, Welcome Kava, BBQ, and settling in at Sela's guest house

Sun, Oct. 29: Church (I went to the King's Church), Uma (traditional Tongan cook-out/feast after church), walk back to town and walking around town with other group members

Mon, Oct. 30: Classes all day (Classes include language class, culture class, teacher training classes, sessions about our secondary projects - health and environment, diversity training, safety and security and health), Go to Ha'atafu for our first homestay

Tues, Oct. 31: Classes all day, time with homestay family, Sarah Kate and I had a long talk with our trainers (Noa and Jacinta) about different site placements and their efforts to rescue some volunteers that became stranded on an island during a big storm which resulted in Noa and Jacinta becoming VERY sea sick - the volunteers were fine.

Wed, Nov. 1st: Classes all day, Good-bye feast for the bride (the sister in my host family) that night

Thurs, Nov. 2nd: Drop-off day - they dropped us off in pairs somewhere on Tongatapu and we had to find our way back to Nuku'alofa - I was dropped off with Kate and we hitched a ride to Nuku'alofa with a nice gentleman, his elderly father, a nice lady who gave us Tongan lessons, and his sister who is studying at the theology school; then we had time to check email and do other things in Nuku'alofa before going back to Ha'atafu for lunch and afternoon classes; I went to extra language class that night

Fri, Nov 3rd: Classes all day; walking on the beach and swimming at night; and just relaxing at home

Sat, Nov 4th: Sarah Kate and I walked about 4 miles trying to buy phone cards but everything was shut down because it was a holiday (Constitution Day); then a big group went to the beach and I tried to help with the feast at night but preparations really didn't start until 3 or 4 in the morning

Sun, Nov 5th: Church in the morning where we saw the bride and groom get blessed; then we went to Noa's sister's house for the Uma and into town to check email and go to the bakery; then back home to hang out with the family, study and eat more

MOn, Nov 6th: Classes all day, run/walk with Adrienne and extra language class at night

Tues, Nov 7th: Classes all day, run/walk first with Sarah Kate and then with Karen and then I ran on my own; first placement interview with Soraya (i told her I wanted to go to an outer island but one that is big enough to run on and has internet access somewhere and/or some way of communicating with the outside world. However after events later this week I may be staying on the main island - more to come)

Wed, Nov 8th: Classes all day; after classes a bunch of us walked abut 2.5 miles out to go see the Flying Foxes in Kolovai - they are giant bats that look like monkeys - their wing span is about 2 feet. We also met up with another Peace Corps volunteer named Valerie who has been here for a year and LOVES it. She is a teacher in Kolovai and seemed really positive. AND we saw her house and it was really nice - indoor shower and bathroom (although the water wasn't running due to the current drought), really nice living space and bedroom, really good size. AND she had a refrigerator and everything!! it was great!!

Thurs, Nov 9th: Classes all day; long walk with 2 other volunteers - Karen and Adrienne; running by myself; dinner with my host family; and THEN the BEST PART - a town dance (concieto). It was sooooo much fun. The whole town went (except my host family because they are rather anti-social and Sarah Kate because she was tired). It was a fund-raiser for one of the churches in town because that church was holding the annual choir competition on Sunday and therefore had to provide tons and tons of food to all the participants and needed money to buy it all. The way it works is that each family's name is annouced for a set of songs and the family usually would perform a talunga (hula dance) but becuase we were there they mostly just let the Peace Corps volunteers and little kids dance around the whole night. The way the talungas work is...either the family or someone they ask to perform for them performs a traditional dance, like a hawaiian hula dance. The dancers wear a traditional outfit - usually a printed flower strapless wrap dress and a kiekia (decorative woven belt with dangly things is the best description I can give) or a printed tapa cloth wrapped around them with the kiekia or something like that, of course, with a flower lei and other things. The dancers are covered in baby oil or coconut oil and they perform the dance in front of the kava circle (the men all sit at the front of the room in a half circle and drink kava and watch the dancers - the kava drinking is done in a certain ritual and where they sit in the circle and everything reflects rank, etc.) and as they perform the men from the circle and other people watching the dance stick money to the dancers. I know it sounds wierd, but it is actually very tasteful and not at all sexual. For our dance though, we all just danced around with the kids and people stuck money on us anyways. And three people in the group performed traditional dances - one girl all by herself - isn't that brave!! she also made this incredible costume out of leaves! All in all the church raised 1400$T (tongan dollars - about $700 US). It was really fun!!

Fri, Nov 10th: Classes all day; then they announced our next site placements - I am going to be in the village of Koulo in Ha'api. All the placements are on the main island (still VERY small), but my particular village is about a 30 minute walk from town. THere will be 3 others in my village and I am really excited because they all said they would like to start to run and walk a lot with me! :) That night I also went on a long walk on the beautiful beach and then helped a bunch of volunteers clean the town puppies and pick fleas off of them so that they aren't so sick. Then we just rested at home.

Sat, Nov 11th: We went into town at 7 am and I read some email (but didn't have time to write too much) and then we went to the Tongan Naval Base and had swim and rescue instructions from the Navy officers and had to practice swimming in our life vests and huddling in a circle in our vests and swimming backwards in a row in our vests and then (this was sooo cool!) we got to jump off the navy ship into the little bay area, then we practiced some rescue moves and then they took us in a boat out into the ocean a little and we had to swim back to shore. It was soooo much fun!! i love swimming!! Then we just had time to hang out in town and then we all went back to Ha'atafu and just spent time with our families

Sun, Nov 12th: We went to church with the family and they dressed us all up in traditional tongan wear. I was wearing a long yellowish-orange skirt with a red and black print and a shirt that was much too big in the same print. Then i was wrapped in a big woven mat around my waist and hips and then a stylish kiekia was put on - it was black with black twirly swirls coming down and red and white beads on it. At church we learned that our whole host family sings in the choir and the brother was an excellent singer and the choir director. who knew!! then we had the uma (feast) and then slept and did homework the rest of the day

Mon, Nov 13th - We had classes and someone from the Ministry of Education came to talk to us about a new Special Educaiton program he is starting and he is interested in having me work with the new teacher in order to train her to work with Special Education students!! Cool, right!! That night we also had a BIG BIG BIG feast and all the families and townspeople gave really nice speeches about how much they enjoyed having us and we ate tons and tons of food.

Tues, Nov 14th - We are back in Nuku'alofa today before we go on our 10 hour boat ride to Ha'api tonight. TOday we saw a great play done by one of the Peace Corps teachers with his class 6 students. it was Tongan Snow WHite and the Seven Dwarfs - sooo cute!!

Alright, I must go!!

PLease write!!


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Thursday, July 19, 2007


Well, I have finally re-entered the current computer era and re-found my blog that I started with a tiny little post way back in October before I even left to come here to Tonga. Gosh, that seems so long ago! And yet, at the same time, it feels like I was just in Connecticut. How on earth have I already been in Tonga for almost 9 months!! That's just crazy talk! Anyways, I hope in the future (the future being Sunday) to post some messages here that give a rather brief update on what I have been doing for the past 9 months, or at least the highlights that I can remember. Unfortunately I cannot do this now as I should really be going to work and giving up the dream of ever being able to an email of my Inclusive Education presentation to the lovely woman from Fiji that I promised it to because no computers in Tonga can handle sending a powerpoint presentation via email. Sigh. Until Sunday....


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Packing up for Tonga!!

Hi Everyone!!

Well, I am here in Connecticut trying (with great difficulty) to figure out exactly what I need and don't need to bring with me to Tonga and how I am going to fit it all into my two bags. I definately have too much stuff! So I decided to take a break from my packing and create this blog as a way of keeping in touch with everyone over the years (assuming I have internet access). I will also try to post pictures to this site so that you can see what Tonga is like in addition to just reading about it.

Again, here is my mailing address during training:

Carly Anderson, PCV
Peace Corps
PO BOx 147
Nuku'alofa, Tonga
South Pacific

Please feel free to write to me as much as your little hearts desire!! I love letters!!