Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I wrote the following letter to my friend Andrew and after re-reading it I decided that I might as well share it with everyone. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Things are going pretty well over here. Training has been intense. Since I have been here I have had more than four hours of language training everyday and the trainers have kept us busy with culture seminars and policy meetings six days a week. We are all happy that there is only about ten days of training left. This week I have been teaching in the classroom and have been feeling out the Tongan students. They only seem to memorize information and spit it out here. Few Tongans can actually use or explain what they are learning and creativity is minimal, but I guess that is what I'm here to work on. The country is amazing overall. You should check out the island I'm on on google maps. I'll be living on the island of Lifuka on Ha'apai. I'll never bee more than a quarter mile away from a beautiful beach and the island is protected by beautiful coral reef filled with fish of all colors swimming around. When I'm not studying the language or preparing my lesson plans I can go out to the beach and just relax or go snorkeling. The culture is pretty sweet here. People work with their families in the uta -Tongan farms that are usually just a short ride from their homes.. They grow crops that are easy to care for and food is plentiful. A big part of the culture here is feasting and usually involves many pigs roasted on open fires. They also make a ton of other delicious food here. It is the end of the school year here and I have already been invited to four feasts this week. Yesterday I was just sitting on the beach looking out at a sunset over a beautiful blue ocean with a silver reflection and I had a moment of realization. I realized that when many people are stressed out or in trouble they think of their happy place, an imaginary place that is calm and serene, like a beautiful beach in the middle of nowhere. Well, that is exactly where I am and will be living and working for the next two years. Things couldn't be much better.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Finally an update

Hey Everyone,

Sorry for the delay on updates. Training has been pretty intense lately and I have not been able to find the time to find a ride into town to use the internet. This will all change though around Christmas when I move to site. Right now I am typing on a computer at Ha'apai High School, the school I will be working in for the next two years. There is a good size computer lab here with about seven computers and a 56k connection. My house is about fifty feet away and there might even have wireless. It may not sound ideal to you from America, but over here it is amazing. It is funny what begins to amaze you when you are on a small island in the middle of the Pacific.

In other news, this week was my first week of teaching. It is the end of the school year here in Tonga and all of the students have already taken their final exams but there is still class. It looks like the only students attending are the students assigned to our classes. I started teaching yesterday and it was a whole lot different than I expected. Most of my activities required pens and paper. Not to much to expect as a teacher, right? Well, as I started my first activity, which was a writing activity, my students told me that they did not have any pens or paper. Half of my lesson plan was suddenly out the window. I jumped to the end of my lesson and looked at my future lesson plans for ideas. The rest of the class went smoothly. I got them to tell me a little bit about themselves and I taught them how to make a brain storming diagram. As I ended the class I told them all to bring pens and paper for today. Today I actually got them to make a brain storm diagram, write a story from it and identify the parts of speech in their stories. I was impressed with kids. They know a lot and work hard. I'm thinking that teaching here will be a great experience.

I will be teaching all next week here at Ha'apai so that means blog updates!!! Maybe even pictures.