Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Training in Tongatapu, staying busy

"It's Tonga" story of the week:
- My counterpart didn't come to school one morning, one of the other teachers told me she was at the hospital. Unfortunately, she had the only room key with her. So how do we solve this problem? Dismantle the window of course. After taking the window off, a kid crawled through and opened the classroom. Problem solved.
- Later that day, I ran into the counterpart on the road and asked her if she was feeling better. She said she was, but she had a hole in her tooth. I asked her if they were able to fix it at the hospital or if she'd have to travel to Tongatapu to get it fixed. She told me they gave her antibiotics for it. I was confused, so I asked her what she was going to do about the tooth with a hole in it. She told me she tried to pull it out herself, but that didn't work, so she had to cut it off. Now I was really confused, and I think it must have showed on my face, because she opened her mouth and showed me the gaping, bloody hole where her tooth used to be. Up to this point, our conversation had been in Tongan, but I had to switch to English to sort this whole mess out. It didn't help. What I took from the conversation was that the tooth went bad, and she used scissors to cut it off. I'm pretty squeamish about teeth anyway, so I couldn't take the conversation much further than that. Make of it what you will. I'm just praying that I don't get any holes in my teeth while I'm here.

I've officially been serving as a Peace Corps volunteer six months! And I'm busy as ever, but really having a good time as well. Last week was the final week of the second term of the school year, so the high school kids were taking exams and got out of school early, and the primary school kids were generally getting out of school a little early as well. For night school one night I taught my class six students how to make pancakes at my house, and on Friday I had my high school girls in my village over for lunch and we spent the afternoon playing cards. I've found since being here that Tongans tend to play cards a little differently than Americans. When we play, we follow the rules strictly and the point is to win (and to have fun, but really to win, and it's only fun when everyone plays by the rules). When you play cards with a Tongan, the point is to cheat and goof off and not follow the rules and see hopw much cheating they can get away with. I don't get it, but every Tongan I've ever played with plays that way, and they even mentioned it in our training cross-cultural manual. I just didn't believe it when they said, "They point of playing cards in Tonga is not to win, it's to cheat." I now believe it, but still am trying to wrap my head around how that is fun. Like I said, I just don't understand the appeal of not even playing right, but I've learned to just go with it.

After school every day all the kids have been getting together to play kick the can, which sometimes I partake in or watch when I'm around. It's a lot of fun though, they call it "bunny" instead of "kick the can," and they use twenty old tin cans which they have to stack in a pyramid before the other team gets everyone out by pegging them with a flat basketball. This can be especially tricky because all the cans are rusted and bent and of different size. But it's a lot of fun, kids from class one all the way to the high school kids play all together.

The proposal and cost estimate for the library has been finished, and the project is still coming along swimmingly. Now a counterpart and I are working on filling out and sending of grant applications to get the money to build it. My village has volunteered to provide all the manual labor to build the library, and I think we want to let the kids paint it, so that all has helped cut the cost quite a bit. Still working on getting book, but overall the project is doing great!

I was brought into Tongatapu this week with one of my counterparts to complete a training workshop about conducting service projects with our students within our communities. It was a good workshop, and it was nice to make it into the main island again. While here, I went to a salsa dancing lesson put on by another volunteer, as well as a yoga class put on by another volunteer. I washed my clothes in a real washing machine, watched half a movie in the volunteer lounge, and drank real coffee at a coffeeshop. And...after three days here I'm defenitely ready to get back to 'Eua. I miss playing "bunny" and the sound of waves crashing against the shore lulling me to sleep every night. And I miss my puppy, Tahi. He's doing great; he's a really, really good dog. He's always gentle with the kids, even when they're not so gentle with him, and he loves cuddling in my hammock, but he's also really protective and gets all "tough" when strange dogs or people come around. Although this past week or so, he's started hanging out with a rough crowd of dogs around the neighborhood and chasing the neighbors pigs, which will get him eaten in these parts, so I have to get that situation under control.

I went hiking and camped on the beach last weekend, looks like that's probably on the slate for this weekend too since a couple of Austrailian volunteers are on their way out to 'Eua. That'll be a good time. I'll head back on the boat tomorrow, hopefully it will be a smotther ride that the boat we took coming in (there was a line of palangi's hanging over the edge of the boat puking for most of the ride).

Hopefully I'll be getting my camera back soon, and it'll be fixed, so pictures to come soon!
I started making a list of things that have broken since I've been here in Tonga, and realized that every single thing I brought that required battery or electricity is toast (good thing I didn't bring too much of that stuff) including my iPod, camera, fan, water boiler pitcher, and headlamp. Faka'ofa (pitiful). Good thing I like to read :)

I know it's getting to be summer back in the states, so here's hoping everyone is having a good start to their summers and warming up. It's "dry" season here, and actually getting really cold, at least on my island. No telling how cold, because no one has a thermometer, but I think it's really cold, and I am, after all, from Alaska, so that's saying something. Take care everyone!

1 comment:

Mom said...

I sent your camera yesterday, along with a "Rat Zapper" to fight the rat wars. It promises to electrocute 30 rats on one set of D cell batteries. (I sent you batteries too) Rats Be Gone!
Love - Mom