Lola & Toni in the Tonga

A Year In
October 5, 2008, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A year ago Saturday we arrived in the Kingdom of Tonga to start our Peace Corps adventure.  It really doesn’t seem like a year has passed since we walked off that plane at the grand Fua’amotu International Airport, but it really has.  So far, Tonga has been really good to us.  Lara is still really enjoying her job, her work mates and continuing her career in the Pacific.  I have grown accustomed to teaching at a Tertiary level and have started to get close to my work mates.  Life continues to be good for the both of us.  We have made some friends here that we consider life long friends, even though we have only known them for a year, and some our located on distant islands.  It seems that being in the Peace Corps draws you closer to the people you are sharing the experience with.  We have also met many wonderful people including some Australians, Kiwis (New Zealanders), and definitely some great Tongans we consider good friends.

As I said, it really doesn’t seem like a year has passed here in Tonga, but when I think back, alot has actually happened since we left the US.  We have visited almost all the island groups, taken a holiday to New Zealand, seen and participated in many cultural events, and saw a new King be coronated.  I guess it doesn’t feel quite as signifiacnt when you are living in a country and it is happening around you, but I guess it really is.

What does come into the topic of conversation almost daily though is what is happening back in the old US of A.  The bubble finally broke and the economy is in the toilet.  I am not sure how this is affecting all of our friends and family back home, but it seems to us in the Pacific that the US is falling apart.  Then there is the election that is coming up.  I guess it would be considered the biggest election ever, at least in our lifetimes.  After 8 years of George Bush, you would think the US would be ready for a big change, but it seems that there are still many people who refuse to acknowledge the fact that the US has really gone the wrong way, starting with the Iraq war.  You tend to look at these things differently when you are living in more of an International setting.  People all over the world follow the economy and the politics of the US, maybe more than a good percentage of Americans.  What happens in the US definitely has an impact on people all over the world.

So, the election.  I have a friend who is so into this election that it will decide what she and her husband do after they get out of the Peace Corps.  In fact, I think there are many people who state that they will not return to the US if John McCain and his clearly under qualified VP candidate get elected.  I think if family and friends of Peace Corps volunteers want to see their loved ones return to the states, they really need to make a decision on what is best for the US, more of George Bush policies and unjustified wars, or a change in the way the US is viewed on an International scale.  I would bet that if the elections were held in the International community, Barack Obama would win by a landslide.  People around the world want to view the US as the great place it once was, not as the greedy warmongering country it has become.  Ok, so I may not be the most informed on what the situation is in the US, or the views of Americans on the election, but I still have opinions about the situation that were beginning to form way before we left for Tonga.

OK, that is about all I have to say about the politcal situation except, go Obama!

Anyway, for our year celebration, we went one of  the most Palangi (white, touristy) restaurants in Nuku’alofa with our good friends Scot and Karen.  We had a great dinner, although overpriced for volunteers, and some great conversation and reflection on the past year and the year to come.  Then Sunday, Lara and I went with a group of Australians, Kiwis, and some Tongans on a kayak trip.  I think the total distance may have ended up being about 20 kilometers.  We stopped at three different islands that sit off the coast of Nuku’alofa and had a bbq on Pangaimotu. the resort island that sits just off the coast.   We brought our camera, but like usual, the batteries were dead and we were unable to get any pictures.  Hopefully someone else will forward us theirs.  It was a great end to a great year!!  OK, so I need to state that we have been in Tonga for a year, but only 10 months into our service.  We are scheduled to complete our service in December of 2009.  Even though, it was still a date that needed celebrating.  On Thursday of this week, 25 new Peace Corps trainees arrive in country to start where we did a year ago.  The excitement over the new group has been building for several months now, and we are all looking forward to the energy a new group brings to the community.

We hope all of our friends and family our doing well back home.  We miss and think about you all very often.  Keep in touch!


2 Comments so far
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hi there

Comment by Aron

Trent and Lara! I just was talking to Wendy (we got married July 2006) about the different universes we inhabited in the past. . .you guys probably know something about that. I googled you and found this site. I’m still a mail carrier, living in the Rose City neighborhood. We must catch up. Shoot me an email when you get a chance. Hopefully by then I will have read more of your site. Peace! (Corps)

Comment by Alan Hartley

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