Thursday, November 25, 2010

Some Teaching Pics

Here are some pics of my first day teaching and the last one is my home stay family portrait.  I'm going to get it framed and give it to them for Christmas to hang up.

Moving the benches and tables out of the way for the Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes song

Trying to teach possive pronouns with Tevita

Practicing the parts of the body. (I made the poster)

Activity where I said a body part and they had to point to the part. (This was nose lol)

Me shaping young minds haha

You can see part of the words for the song on the board behind me.

Home Stay Family Portrait 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Today was our last day of our teaching practicum. Today I taught my students their left and right and some directions. We practiced by doing an exercise where I would tell them to jump, point, look, or step to the right, left, front, or back. After this we rehearsed singing Silent Night. There were 4 of us teaching classes this week at the Fotua Government Primary School. Two of us taught our students to sing Silent Night and the other two taught their students to sing Jingle Bells.
After we taught for about an hour and a half we all brought our students to the hall and we did a small recital where all the kids sang. Here are some pictures of the kids singing.

Class 4 and 5 kids singing Silent Night

Class 3 and 6 singing Jingle Bells

This week we taught our students pretty easy lessons. One reason was that for many of us it was our first time teaching our own class and teaching English. Another reason is that the students took all their tests a couple of weeks ago and summer starts next week so everyone is kind of coasting it. If we weren’t teaching them this week, the students would probably just be playing all day and practicing for their Culture Day on Monday. All the schools on this island and the surrounding islands are going to Pangai and performing Tongan dances and singing. We will get a chance to go and watch it.
Right now it’s Friday afternoon. We’re celebrating Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. Each village is in charge of cooking their own turkey and then we split up the different courses. So our village is in charge of desserts. We’re cooking carrot cake, sweet potato pie, caramel pie, and brownies. So we’re all going to a big hall with the food tomorrow morning and staying there till 2pm. Then we’re all going and drinking on the beach for the rest of the day. Should be fun. I’ll take pictures and post them here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Check This Out

So Darren showed me how to embed videos on the blog.  Darren runs the dive shop down the road.  This is a video he made for his dive shop, Happy Ha'apai Divers.  I don't when I'll be able to post my own videos but hopefully it will be in the next couple of weeks.

Ha'apai Divers from Darren on Vimeo.

First Days of School

               This week we had our teaching practicum where we taught real classes.  I am teaching at the Fotua Government Primary School.  The school is about a ¼ mile down the road from me and I ride my bike there.  I was assigned to their class 5 class which is made up of 10 students who are around 10 years old.  We could teach anything we wanted for 2 hours.  That’s the cool thing about teaching English at the primary level.  You can pretty much teach whatever topic you want as long as it is in English.  I’m writing this on Tuesday night so I’ve had two days of classes so far. 
                I decided to start off with an easy topic for my first day of teaching so I chose to teach about the parts of the body.  We had written lesson plans that were supposed to last for the full 2 hours.  I was finished with everything I had planned about half way through.  However the lesson was a success as far as I was concerned.  The kids learned the 10 vocab words I wanted to teach them and they also learned the Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes song despite me screwing up the dance a few times.  So after an hour, when I had finished everything I had planned to do, I gave them a 15 minutes recess to go outside and do whatever.  When they came back we did another exercise where I pointed to a part of the body and they yelled out what I was pointing at.  Ex.) I would point to my nose and they would shout nose.  So with about 25 minutes left of class I tentatively asked, “Have you guys ever played Duck, Duck, Goose?” They replied with, “DUCK DUCK GOOSE!!!!!!”  It was a big hit and apparently one of their favorites.  The funny thing was that the class 1 and 2 kids (5 and 6 year olds) were let out early, so soon after our game started, the size of the circle was doubled in size to maximum capacity and around the circle was a larger circle of standing spectators.  It was wild.  I felt like I was at a cock fight or something lol.  It would become eerily quiet whenever someone was going around the circle saying duck but the second they said goose and the chase began, everyone would start screaming and cheering them on.  To add to the noise a few of the students had drum sticks on them and would start banging those too.  Also Tongan kids are tough.  They were sliding and diving on the concrete floor to get back to their place in time.  It was awesome.
                Today’s lesson went pretty much the same way with 10 new words about the parts of the body.  I planned it a little better and we didn’t run out of activities and I taught them how to sing and dance the Hokie Pokie which they loved.  I’m teaching again tomorrow morning and on Friday morning.  There is no school on Thursday because it is the first EVER Election Day in the Kingdom of Tonga.  For the first time in the country’s history there will be a democratic election for public officials.  It will be very interesting how the elections turn out and if there are any dramatic changes although none are anticipated.  However I’m sure that there will be many changes over the next 2 years. 
                We have less than 2 weeks left of our home stay and basically our training.  Training doesn’t officially end until December 15, when we get sworn in, but everyone is going to their sites on December 4th and that will be pretty fun.  I’ll be staying here in beautiful Ha’apai.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Not much to write about.  This week is our last week of language classes.  Starting next week we will go to Faleloa (the village at the end of the island and where I’ll be living after training) everyday to receive our technical training.  From what I understand, we will be split up into the different sectors which we will be teaching.  So I will be grouped with the other primary school teachers.  Our main instructor will be Dora who just arrived this week from Bulgaria.  She has been a language teacher for Peace Corps for many years.  She is our teacher because our primary task is teaching English to our students. 
Today Laukau was driving into Pangai to go shopping I think, so some Peace Corps volunteers and I caught a ride with him.  I’m hopefully picking up my bike from Juleigh, one of the volunteers in Ha’apai.  Sarah (The volunteer who just left and who used to live in my house) left my bike with her, so it will be real nice to not have to walk and hitchhike everywhere. 
For the last few days it has been really hot here.  Yesterday was by far the hottest.  It felt that way anyway because we couldn’t do anything since it was Sunday.  We literally just sat around talking to each other, sweating.  I think it was probably only in the low 80’s but humidity is ridiculous. 
That’s all for now and here are some pics.

Homestay Bedroom

Homestay House

Homestay Living Room

My Homestay Mom, Lei

Our Bus

Monday, November 1, 2010


                This week we found out our site placements for where we will be living after we get sworn in, in December.  I am going to be a primary school teacher in a government primary school.  The kids range from Grade 1 (5 year olds) to Grade 6 (11 year olds).  I think I’ll be primarily teaching English but I’m not quite sure.  The school is in the village of Faleloa which is two villages over from where I’m living right now.  It is on the island of Foa, in the island group of Ha’apai.  In my school there are 4 teachers and 77 students.  The village of Faleloa has approximately 400 people in it. 
                A great perk for me is that because I’ll be staying here on the same island as our home stay, I have already seen my house.  It is on the school compound, right next to the school.  My neighbor is the principle I think.  Another lucky thing about my house is that up until about a week ago, another volunteer was living there.  She just finished her service and she left me all her stuff.  This means that I can save most of moving-in allowance because I don’t need to buy a refrigerator, stove, and bike.  She left me some other stuff too I think but I haven’t seen all of it yet.  Peace Corps took everything out of the house so that nobody took anything. 
Here are the pics…
                Also down the road is 2nd most beautiful beach in Tonga (so I’ve heard) and two resorts.  The island is also surrounded by beautiful reefs and beaches.  I think I’ll be very happy here. 

My House...

Looking in the front door

My living room

My Bedroom

My bathroom

My Shower

Kitchen Counter

Kitchen Sink

Playing field right in front of my house

My school

My neighbors house (the principle I think)

Blog 11/1

This is a journal entry from last week…
Today we continued our lessons at Tasi’s house.  My Tongan is coming along pretty well.  I can say the basics and I can sometimes get the gist of what someone is saying to me if they speak slowly enough.  After lunch we had to dress in black because we were going to the next village over, where a man had just died.  In Tonga, when someone dies in your village, everyone wears black from the time he dies until 3 days after he is buried.  If you were very close the deceased, such as a son or wife, then you would wear black for a year.  Some widows even wear black until the day they die. 
                We finished for the day and then headed to the beach.  We stayed there for a good two hours (My tan is coming along nicely).  After the beach we headed back home.  Across the street from my house is a small field where there were men playing some touch rugby.  Seeing as my dinner wasn’t ready yet, I joined them.  They gave me the ball to punt to kick off the game and I’m pretty sure they were expecting me to screw it up because after I gave it a decent kick, they all seemed generally impressed.  I played barefoot which is a testament to my new-found and slightly surprising lack of concern towards dirty and would-be-frowned-upon-things-in-America, here in Tonga (Couldn’t really think of a good word to put there).  The field was uneven, there were shards of glass here and there, and it was scattered with crap from whatever animal had been grazing in it. 
                I’m also relaxing my eating habits.  At home I would never eat dark meat or any fat or bones.  Here I’m eating pork straight off a roasted pig’s body on the table in front of me, that still has his eyes and hooves.  I regularly get chunks of bones in my meals and meat with no fat on it is a rarity.  It helps too that Lei’s cooking is delicious.  The other day at Faikava, I tried to say that Lei’s cooking was delicious after I was asked, “How is the food?”  I said, “Lei Ifo” which means “Lei (the wife of Laukau) is delicious, not Lei’s cooking is delicious.  The men all thought that was hilarious and laughed as I repeated it a few more times thinking that they were pleased with my language skills.  I only realized my mistake after one of the men explained it to me.  I still haven’t lived it down and I get asked how’s Lei’s cooking is every time I go to Faikava.