Wednesday, March 24, 2010

To the newly invited Peace Corps Tonga Group 76

A friend and I were talking, and we realized that it was in April of last year that we learned we would be going to Tonga for the Peace Corps. For anyone who hasn’t applied, the process was long and arduous, so to hear a set location and finally be able to somewhat visualize your life for two years was a relief. In this visualization attempt, we read every Peace Corps Tonga blog we could find. So, in case anyone reading this is a newly accepted PC Tonga Group 76-er, welcome, and here’s a list of what Peace Corps Tonga is (speaking for no one but myself):

Peace Corps Tonga is an amazing experience with great fellow PCVs and Tongan citizens.

It’s trying to learn a new language and culture. And in attempt to apply the language, it’s telling someone you want to “develop severe diarrhea and give instructions,” when you really want to say “organize.”

It’s realizing that what grossed you out in America (staph infections, cockroaches, boils, not washing your hands) can’t gross you out anymore or you would go out of your mind.

It’s everyone asking you when you’re going to cook and eat your dog. (Never, Papi! Don’t worry!)

It’s sitting on your porch just watching the sunset, when someone who just went spear fishing hands you a couple (or five) fresh fish for dinner.

It’s swimming in the ocean with some kids on a rainy day. Or a sunny day. Or a cloudy day.

It’s everyone telling you what to do. Especially with eating. “Eat till you’re full.” “Eat till you’re satisfied.” “Eat till the food’s gone.” “Eat till you’re fat.” It’s being told where to sit, where to stand, to go lie down and rest, and every other command.

It’s finding a good way to ignore doing all of those things.

It’s being the center of attention simply because you’re a palangi, a foreigner. Sometimes you’re like a mark of honor for the community, and sometimes you’re like a fun accessory. Sitting at the head table of every feast is the former, and having Tongans loooove to fix palangi hair is the latter.

It’s every Tongan going out of her way to make sure you’re happy and never acting like that anything a PCV asks for is a burden.

It’s getting excited to see lettuce. (Seriously, I’ve seen it once in six months.)

It’s nodding along in a conversation, agreeing with whatever the other person is saying, until they ask you more than a “yes” or “no” question, and you have to admit you’re lost.

It’s people in the village bringing you a bunch of perhaps 25 bananas, and trying to use them all in breakfast, lunch, dinner, and banana bread for the neighbors before they go bad.

It’s clearing out the fruit fly infestation that came with the bananas.

It’s changing your social life to make Mormon dances the hot thing to do on a Friday night.

It’s your students coming over to your house and being wowed by your ability to shuffle a deck of cards. And entranced by Cascada’s “Everytime We Touch” on your iPod.

It’s going to a kava circle, everyone singing some song just for you, and, at the end, you realized, oh, that was in English.

It’s being asked if you’re looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend in Tonga and, no matter the answer, being set up with someone.

It’s everyone on the entire island knowing who you are and calling out your name as you pass them on a run.

And it’s so much more! We’re so excited to have ya’ll!

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