PHOTO : ME with a boil on my knee...fml.
I’ve officially been living in the Kingdom of Tonga for over a year now. I am proud to say that I haven’t even traveled outside of Tonga! I’ve definitely taken in a ton of Tongan culture and “assimilated” to my tropical surrounding. The past year has been quite a rollercoaster ride. I’m not going to lie; there have been moments when I often wonder, “what the hell did I get myself into?” or “why am I here again?” It’s normal to think this way, trust me. It’s all part of having an adventure with the PC.
My work: Matamaka GPS. This year has been a learning experience for me. It took some time to become an “effective” teacher in Tonga. I have learned to not be so “American” when I speak. Instead, I needed to pronounce words with an Australian/New Zealand accent for my students to understand what I’m saying or saying “Zet” instead of “Z.” It’s all the little things I didn’t think about prior to coming to Tonga that has caught me by surprised. Did my class six students pass the big exam? I hope so. Will I know what to expect next year? Definitely. Will I get use to all the hitting of the students by Tongan teachers? I’m still working on that one.
My village: Matamaka. I’ve had some awkward moments, but overall I think it’s all good. Again, it’s all been a learning experience. I know what to expect with church and town fundraisers and how to hitch a boat ride to town. My PATIENCE has been amazing. I am so use to waiting for a boat for one, two, three or eight hours that it does not affect me anymore. I can’t wait to apply that skill in American.
My life: ME. This year has all been about culture, culture, culture and the endless desire to integrate to the best of my ability to the point that I forgot to take care of myself and my needs. I was constantly doing things to please everyone in my community, which included going to church for over five hours on some Sundays. Was I happy? Not entirely. I had an epiphany one day and realized this was insane. Cultural exchange is supposed to be a two way street! Part of my job is to share “American” culture (whatever that entails to each individual). Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention to disrespect the Tongan culture, but if I want to watch a movie in my house on a Sunday, I don’t want to feel guilty about it. As far as I’m concern, my house is Little America and ENGLISH is the “official” language (I was told I need to speak more Tongan in my house—HA, I think some people often don’t appreciate how much Tongan I know compared to other foreigners).
In the end, as this year comes to a close another exciting year approaches. I am super excited to get away for a month in December and reenergize. Get ready for another year of constant ups and downs. I can almost see the finish line to my PC service out in the horizon. My various projects are in play and will hopefully continue to become a success. I have a lot on my plate, but I am confident in completing as much as I can. Lastly, I need to set more time for me. Yes, ME…balance out the seesaw a bit.