Saturday, April 17, 2010


My two cats

Tailulu students on our Mangrove Fieldtrip

Tailulu Students at the Dump

Tailulu Students at SportsDay

Group75 Peace Corps Tonga

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fai Kava

Fai Kava?

In Tonga, men gather all nights of the week and sit together and drink kava. It is a drink made from the root of Kava. A young single women stirs the kava in a large wooden bowl and fills cups that the men drink. After hours of drinking kava, men become intoxicated. Women do not participate in the fai kava. These women are called toa. Pronounced Do-Ah in english. It gives women the opportunity to talk to men, but at the same time it gives men the chance to say inappropriate things to the toa. On sundays, the holy day, men do not say inappropriate sayings to the toa because it is Sunday-Church Day!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sports Day

After approximately a month of training, we had Sports Day. It was a 2 day event in which all the High Schools in Vava'u competed through relay racing, long distance racing, short distance racing and disc toss. The students were separated by age: midgets, intermediate and juniors. Tailulu did not do very well, but we tried. It was a fun 2 days of seeing all the students from all the High Schools show their team spirit. Unfortunately , the two days were very very hott so it was difficult to be out in the sun for so long. The winners of the Sports Day are going to the capital in April where there will be an island group competetion. So Eua will compete against Vava'u and Ha'apai and Tongatapu. I will not get to go. But that should be fun for the students.


Tonga is a religious country. There are church services 3 times a day on Sunday, 5 am 10 am and 3pm. Monday through Friday there are 5 am services. Sometimes there is choir practice. I go to church twice every Sunday, at 10 am and 3 pm. After the morning service I am invited over to a neighbors house where I eat traditional sunday food, Lu and root crops. Lu is made from taro leaves, coconut juice, a meat of choice : mutton, chicken or fish, onions and peppers. It is delicious, or maybe I have just gotten used to it. haha. After lunch, I go home and sleep/ rest until the next service at 3pm. After that service I socialize ( talanoa) with some Tongan neighbors and I go home and rest some more. Nothing is open on Sundays here in Tonga. The bakery is open for several hours for people to buy bread or cinnamon buns. But all shopping needs to be done prior to Sunday. It is a day of rest. No music can be played, well relgious music is permitted. No TV or Films can be watched, well religious films are permitted. Swimming is also not allowed. I am getting used to Sundays. They are nice and relaxing.

It is also so hott here in Vava'u that sitting around and sleeping / resting is just what i need.

Above is a picture of what I normally wear to church--> The skirt and shirt combination is called a puletaha in fakatonga and the belt around my waist is called a kiekie. This is a typical sunday and school attire. I have to wear a kiekie to school and religious functions.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

High School

So hitting your students is legal here and very much encouraged. It's something that I am getting used to that I should not. It makes them listen. Otherwise, they are a complete mess. Not that I agree with it......

Above is a photograph of the inside of my school. One of my classrooms is on the left and another is on the right. The classroom in the back right is a 3rd classroom I teach in. My last classroom is outside in a small building. This is my whole school. Approximately 150 students. When school starts they line up in forms outside, just like grades, and enter the building. The boys sit on one side and the girls on the other. They sing and have a prayer. Afterwards there is an assembly. This happens twice a week. It is quiet beautiful.

1 Cyclone and 1 Tsunami

2 weeks ago, all the Peace Corps in Vava'u spent 3 nights in a Mormon Church in the center of town. There was a crazy cyclone here. The winds were rough, the trees were shaking. Coconuts were flying. I thought I was going to die. The Mormon churches are known to b
e the safest place to stay. We were very safe. It was an interesting and crazy experience because we were not allowed to leave the Mormon compound. Just imagine.....

Many houses were destroyed. Some were demolished. I live next to a church, so the Church Hall caved in as well as the Band House at my school. Neither one has the money to replace the houses at the moment. My 2 neighbors houses were damaged. My house was fine. I felt very lucky. We were without electricity for around one week. Your lifestyle is very different without running water, a running fridge and lights
. Bedtime gets earlier.

1 week later. We were camping and we got a call that there is a warning for a Tsunami in Tonga due to the crazy ring of fire. I headed home, I live on a mountain, the safest place to be during a Tsunami. Luckily, nothing happened to Tonga. I was waiting and waiting , watching the sea. I saw nothing. There was a 1 meter wave , but I could see nothing.

I am hoping there will not be another natural disaster in the South Pacific any time soon. We shall see...

Things are getting back to normal, or as normal as they can be in Tonga.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I have cats. Plural.

Check out my cats. The orange one is named Taika which means tiger in Tongan. I haven't named the grey one yet. Don't worry they aren't stray cats. I am new at this pet thing, and I might be getting a puppy very soon too. Please refrain from calling me animal women. If you have any advice about cats please send me an email. Thank you!

Tailulu College

The name of my High School is Tailulu College. There are approximately 150 students. I am teaching Form 1 and Form 2. I am hoping to do something with the gym class, because that barely exists, but that might have to hold off until I get more settled with my English classes. Form 1 ranges from 11-12 year olds with Form 2 ranging from 12-13 year olds. We are on a 6 day routation scheduale. I am teaching Form 1 and Form 2 in 2 sections, so I have 4 classes altogether. There are around 15ish students in each section. So I have around 60 students altogether. I have around 4 classes each day, some days its 3 and one day it's one. The Forms go up to Form 5. Then there is Form 6, in which the students at my school have to pass the Form 5 test, or else they have to repeat Form 5. If they pass this test, they can transfer to the few schools that have Form 6. Then, if they choose they can apply to go to college.

My school days consist of an 8:30 prayer assembly, but that is only on monday and wednesday's. The minister comes in and does a whole big thing and the students sing. It's quiet beautiful. On the other days, the students line up by Forms outside and someone says a short prayer for the beginning of the day. There is also a prayer at the end of school. In case you don't know Tonga is a religious country. There are prayers done before every meal, except snacks.

There is homeroom and somedays reading for 30 minutes before class. I'm still figuring things out. All classes start by 9am. The students appear to very attentative, and I hope that continues. The Tongan students are very respectful to the teachers, because teachers are high figures in society.

The problem I face here is that when I'm trying to teach english, they a just stare at me because they don't understand or they're just shy. If i ask a question sometimes they just sit there. It's hard. This teaching gig is a lot of work, especially with lesson planning. The other problem I encountered is that Tongan classes revolve around writing exercising on the board and having the students do them. Writing exercises on the board and having the students copy and answer the questions takes a very long time, especially when classes are only 50 minutes long. I am learning to realize that not much will be accomplished in a short period.

Lunch is half an hour long, running from 11:30-12. The teachers eat mango's for lunch. No one brings much for lunch, I imagine they just eat when they get home. All or a vast majority of the teachers aren't from Neiafu as well as the students. The students take buses in from outer villages to school. Yet, if they live on outer islands they stay with family monday through friday and then go back to their island on friday.

School officially gets out at 2:30, but there is an assembly afterwards for each form, well i guess its more like homeroom. Then all the buses come and everyone is gone by 3. It’s a short day but only because I am so busy. I've been doing my lesson planning at night because I don't have time during the school day, but i'm hoping that will change.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Neiafu Here I am

So here I am , sitting at my kitchen table writing this thing that is called a blog. I am very new to this modern technology of blogging especially living abroad in Tonga.

My site is great. I live in Talau which is the mountain region of Neiafu. The view from my house is breathtaking, so I'm not complaining. I am around a 15 minute walk to the trail head and a 15-20 minute walk to town. I am working at Tailulu College, which is associated through the Free Church of Tonga. There are approximately 140 students with 20 staff members. I will be co-teaching English Form 1 and 2, which are the first two years of High School. My students will be from 12-14 years old. I will have 4 class's a day, with each class 50 minutes long. The rest of my time will be occupied with lesson planning and hopefully helping out in the Library, PE class and various secondary projects that I want to pursue. The possibilities are endless.

So school starts on Monday, but it is still summer and really hot here. Luckily I have a breeze where i'm living.

Check it out:

Vava'u is a hilly island group, which is a nice change from Ha'apai. I've gone on a few hikes already, which seems to be the only way to get exercise now because my toe is infected and I can't wear shoes and go running. It'll probably be several months before that happens because my toe nail is going to fall off. It's gross..I won't go into any more detail.


Kids in Lotofoa

Host Cousins and Sister in Lotofoa, before going to Mormon Church

Tongans Fishing

Traditional Tongan Dance and Dress for Dance

The Beach in Lotofoa