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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tonga Peace Corps Volunteers celebrate Peace Corps' 50th Anniversary!

















































Peace Corps Volunteers in Vava'u, Tonga held a clean-up at the market in Neiafu, Vava'u to celebrate 50 years of volunteering through Peace Corps :) We donated two large trash cans after the clean-up and had a cermonial dinner to acknowledge the works of Peace Corps Volunteers in Tonga over the years. Above you'll see a group photo of all current Vava'u PCVs, our country director, staff manager and members of the community who all came together to help participate with the clean-up! I had the honor of saying the opening prayer at the ceremony- very exciting and a little nerve-wracking. I chickened out and said the prayer in English hahaha

A Hike to Holonga Point!























































Here are some pictures of our adventure out to Holonga Point. Myself and a few other close PCVs decided to ride our bikes out to the far Northern village, Holonga. Once there, we carried on riding through the bush to the far ledge of Holonga. It was a great ride! VERY, VERY muddy!!!! We had lots of laughs, and were very tired, but the view from the top of the cliff was just beautiful! We enjoyed a nice picnic lunch there and then hiked down to the beach below for a refreshing dip! :)

Delievering International News to Tonga!





















This past Friday I had the opportunity to help read international news reports on the Tongan radio station, 88.6 FM. My friend and fellow PCV, Sephora, started a radio program on 88.6 FM delievering international news to Vava'u every Friday evening from

5-6pm. She and her co-host (soon to be solo host), Ma'asi, welcomed myself, and fellow PCVs, Farfum and Carolyn, to be guest speakers on last Friday's show. It was a lot of fun!

Library Fun Day!































Sunday, June 19, 2011

Library Fun Day in Vava'u

Library Fun Day is an annual celebration of our island's public library. This year, Peace Corps Volunteer, Carolyn Winik, had once again gotten all the PCVs to pitch in in whatever way they could to help the event- baking goods for the bake sale table, giving away old clothes and gadgets for the 'free table,' setting-up the event and cleaning up, and, most importantly, helping out with the games! Peace Corps Volunteers, members of the Vava'u Public Library Committee, and local business endorsors, had a great time running face painting, the pinata, the miniture golf and lots of other great games. The event was held on a Saturday outside of the library, located in downtown Neiafu. Saturdays are 'market days' here on the main island and there were plenty of people wandering around who participated in our Library Fun Day celebration. Here are some pictures of the event and thanks again to all those who participated! We had a great time! I hope it will continue to be a fun and educational event for the families of Vava'u.

Sunday, June 5, 2011





Thank you Ralph Talbot Elementary School and FTCC in Scituate!

Malo 'aupito Ralph Talbot Elementary School and FTCC Scituate!!!

Thank you so much for your generous donation of books to the students of Mailefihi Siu'ilikutapu College in Neiafu, Vava'u, Tonga. I cannot express to you how grateful the students and teaching staff are and how excited everyone is over the new reading material.

Last year, when I arrived to Mailefihi Siu'ilikutapu College as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I opened up a language lab to teach the students English through reading and language games. Unfortuantely, I was disheartened when I was shown the school's reading selection. The books available were so out-dated, dusty, and too sophisticated for my students. I knew that if my language lab was going to be successful, then I needed new books and this is where you came into the picture :)

Your hard work, generosity and dedication to collecting books for our school has made all the difference to my classroom and to the students' learning. They are so excited to read now! The students are constantly checking out books on Dora the Explorer, Hannah Montana, and oh, how they love looking through the pop-up books and sticker books you have sent!

Please know that your donation has made such an impact on my students' motivation to learn. They never had books to enjoy at school like this before and it is very rare to find a reading book, aside from the bible, in a Tongan home.
Your book donations have helped to make my work as a Peace Corps Volunteer successful at my school! Thank you for all your help and for your love to the Tongan students at Mailefihi Siu'ilikutapu College.

Below are some pictures of the students with the books :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ma'asi in Vava'u :)

Hey everyone! I'm thankful to report that all is well in safe in Tonga! We were on tsunami alert after the devastating earthquake in Japan but aside from a visible rise and fall in the sea level, we were okay. Thanks to everyone for their concerns and prayers!

I am currently uploading my first Tongan photo album on Facebook so be sure to check it out! Facebook seems to be uploading them faster than my blog site so you may just have to start finally accepting my friend requests and check 'em out ;)

Today's Sunday and after a nice church service, and a yummy feast at my friend's home, I am netting away at the PC office :)

Things have been going very well here in Tonga. I finally have gotten over the flu and thanks to some 'Women's One-A-Day' vitamins, and to my Crossfit Aerobics class, i've been feeling great! Getting in shape for bathing suit season which is every day here, of course! So, it doesn't help that i'm already pretty far behind :)

The weather is absolutely beautiful! It's not nearly as hot or humid as it was last year but it still gets up to high 90s every day and the air can be so hot as well. My friends and I like to lay out a Tongan woven mat under the breadfruit and mango trees to cool off. We'll use breadruit leaves or cardboard torn from boxes to use as fans. It's too hot to go swimming when the sun is out but on cloudy and rainy days, the wharf is full of people; children running, and doing insane flips off the wharf and into the water :) It's the hot spot to be!

We're already almost four months into school. We started in January with teacher planning week and staff meetings. School classes were to also start in January but we took our time and had classes officially starting around the second week in February...not that much of a delay, eh?

School, however, is great! I'm teaching Form 3 this year. My kids are about fifteen years old. I teach two classes at the Form 3 level and I teach Class I and Class II at the Sau Faupula Christian Bilingual Primary School. My kids are four-six years old. They are just starting to learn basic English so I am actually learning a lot more of my Tongan language just by working with them. I am all alone in the classroom so you can imagine it can be quite challenging. But, they are kids, and like kids all over the world, they love singing, dancing, and learning. We sing a lot of songs and rehearse our bible verses in both English and in Tongan. I have a puppet I brought back with me from the states that the students have named Jack. He comes with me to class everyday and they love to learn English with Jack!

In addition to my own classes, I am still running the English Language Lab which I started last year. It's open all day for students to read, play English games, etc. Some students are still to shy to come in but it gives me such joy to see the students take advantage of the lab. They love flipping through the picture books of Dr. Seuss and reading the Hannah Montana chapter books :)

I have also started teaching an afterschool English program for kids at the primary school level. I started in February so i'll keep you posted on how that goes....as of now, however, it's a huge success! I have kids knocking on my door an hour- and sometimes two hours before it starts, to make sure i'm ready and going!

I'm also busy with sports practice after school but, to be quite honest, myself and all the teachers just use it as time to relax and chit-chat under the mango tree. I used to be a lot more active and have the kids run sprints and do exersizes. I used to wear running clothes myself to work out with them but that's a little to intense...a little to 'palangi' of me to be so active....hhh

Our sports week is this week and our students will compete against all the other high schools in Vava'u. They will compete in the long jump, discus, hurdles, shotput, relay, and all other typical track and field events. It is one of the biggest social events of the year and everyone in Vava'u goes! Most places close down to see the sports and all the families come with their picnics and lay out on the grass to cheer on their children. Schools are very competitive and we've missed all our afternoon classes this week just to rehearse our cheers in the school hall! Our school colors are blue and white, so I painted my finger nails and toe nails dark blue with sparkles just for the event! A color I don't think i'd ever fashion back home....

I'll be sure to upload some photos of the sports soon! Remember to check out my Tongan photos on facebook :)

Thanks so much for reading!
'Ofa atu!
Ashley

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Home Is Where the Heart Is
















As most of you know I was extremely lucky to spend Christmas back home in the states with my family and friends! For those who came to visit me, I thank you so much! I really appreciate your efforts to stay in contact with me and for your understanding in knowing that it is not always easy for me to do so in return. However I love writing to you all and I very much enjoy reading your comments! So, one of my resolutions for 2011, is to blog atleast once a month. I know it's nothing big but it will be an improvement :)
I had a wonderful holiday break which consisted of a lot of family Yahtzee games near the Christmas tree, fun 'sistes-only' outings to the Boston aquarium and the local YMCA (for mainly hot-tub and sauna uses...haha), long nights sitting with friends- catching up on all that has happened over the past year; and family parties at my grandparents, which always consisted of delicious holiday food and fun :)

I very much enjoyed going to resturants again and going to the movie theater. I had a blast going shopping with all the gift cards I got for Christmas :) Thank you again for those fantastic presents! I was able to get so many toys and books to bring back to Tonga with me for the use of my school library and to share with my community.
My favorite times were when I was just chatting with my family and watching tv together in our warm home beside the Christmas tree. Brit and I even spent many nights sleeping on the sofas in the living room just admiring the lit Christmas tree :)
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I thank you for letting me be apart of it once more this season. It was so wonderful to spend time with each of you and I feel so blessed to have such AMAZING, and loving people in my life.
God bless each of you as you move forward into the new year!
Hope you enjoy some of these pics from my time at home :)
'Ofa atu!





Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Goal # 3

Peace Corps Volunteers work hard to complete three very important goals: share our American culture, values, and knowledge to our host community and country; learn from the host country's culture, values, and knowledge, and lastly, return home to America and share your experience with your fellow friends and family. This cycle helps promote peace and acceptance through the sharing of the experiences and lifestyles of Peace Corps Volunteers during their service. It helps to break down the ignorance and prejudice in our world while at the same time encouraging people to embrace those differences and be reminded of just how unique we all are.

Today I hope to expand on Goal #3 as I visit a local elementary school in Weymouth, MA to give a presentation on my Peace Corps experience thus far in the Kingdom of Tonga.

Almost one year ago, my mother, a second grade teacher at Ralph Talbot Elementary School, proposed an idea that would forever change the way this small Weymouth public school would communicate with the world.

She suggested that before I left for Tonga, I speak to the students on the mission of Peace Corps and describe my upcoming journey to the South Pacific country, Tonga. While I had but only Google images of the islands, and Wikipedia facts on Tonga's culture, housing, and fashion, I spoke to the students and left them with a Tongan dictionary in hopes that perhaps my mother's classroom could stay in touch by writing to myself and my Tongan community.

That short presentation was a wonderful opportunity to share why I wanted to become a PCV and where I was going and now, after almost a year and a half, I plan to visit Ralph Talbot again to share pictures and stories from the islands of Tonga!

I do hope to continue contact with the students for the remainder of my time out there. It has been a lot of fun sending pictures, letters and fun postcards to the kids and I know it really widens their perspecitve of the world and encourages them to learn about other peoples and walks of life.

Wish me luck! I hope I get through the school doors in my full Tongan dress!

'Ofa atu ka kimoutolu!
Ashley

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010