Sunday, December 26, 2010

Finally some pictures!

Kaitlin's mom here. These are the pictures Kaitlin sent me to upload for her. Hopefully this will work, I'm rather new to blogging. But Kaitlin explained everything pretty well in her posts, so I think you will be able to figure out the pictures. And the title of this post is just me being a wiseguy! Kaitlin did ask me to tell you that her internet time will continue to be limited. Unfortunately, there is no internet access in her village, so she has to get into town. And right now she is supposed to be spending more time in her village getting integrated and such. So it might be awhile until her next post. But I am sure she will work it out so that we get to hear from her rather than second hand from me.

Random Fun Facts

Here are some random fun facts/stories about my life in Tonga:
  • I am lucky. My neighbour has a washing machine. So I get to put my clothes in the washing machine and the only thing I have to do by hand is rinse them. No hand washing for Kaitlin! Sweeeet!
  • In an effort to be nice, some of the Tongans in my village try to translate my name back into English. They translate Katalina into Katherine, despite the fact that I explained my name is actually Kaitlin. As a result, I respond to Katherine, Katalina, Lina, and of course, palangi.
  • I successfully cooked for myself the other night, for the first time in Tonga! I made rice and vegetables. It was delicious. I was also very proud of myself, since I am not much of a cook. However, Tongans don't really understand vegetarianism very well- it took a bit of explaining. So when my principal's wife, Vau, asked me if I had cooked myself dinner and I proudly explained what I had made, her reaction was "...that is all? Tomorrow, I will look for eggs for you. I am worried you do not eat enough." I then had to explain that it was okay, I could get my own eggs and I actually eat fine. They are always so worried about me!
  • I tried to bake a cake for Viniseni (my principal), Vau, and their family since they have been cooking so many meals for me. Baking is also a great way to make friends and integrate in Tonga. But, I am not much of a baker either. So my cake was not very good. But my neighbours ate it anyway and even said it was good and I was poto, smart, for making it.
  • I have mice housemates. I think they only come out at night. They recently stole my toilet paper. Silly mice. They don't bother me now but hopefully they don't get any worse!
  • I eva pe (just walk around) a lot to wave to people in my village so they know who I am. Eva-ing is a big activity here in Tonga. It's a little weird to them that I do it alone but the kids come with me sometimes too!
  • I recently finished my first journal! That is the one Jamie gave me for my 21st birthday- thanks Jamie! Next is the one Monica gave me as a gift before I left. So everyone be proud- I've been writing a lot, even if it hasn't been on my blog.
  • Tongans have beautiful voices. The singing in church is absolutely amazing.
  • No, I do not go to the beach everyday.
  • Tonga Group 76 is by far the most fascinating group of people I've ever met in my entire life (no offense to any of you). Everyone has such interesting backgrounds and stories that they are very willing to share. They are also very intelligent. We mesh pretty well.
  • I had my first proposal for a Tongan moa (boyfriend or girlfriend) the other day. First let me explain that boyfriend or girlfriend must be used loosely. You can be texting with someone and be their moa, you can be walking with them on the street, you can actually be dating them- it's quite a wide range of activities and relationships. Tongans also frequently have multiple moas. So one of the boys in the group I was doing Christmas stuff with said "I think it is time for you to have a Tongan boyfriend." I said "Oh, really?" and he said "Yes, you should, would you like one?" I laughed and said "I think I am okay right now, I have not been here too long. I'm alright." And he said "You are okay?" And I said yes. He then didn't talk to me for the next couple of days so I felt kind of bad but we're okay now. A better way to handle it would have been with humour, such as "Oh, I already have 10 moas!" Or to just laugh and say, "You'd have to ask Viniseni first!" or something like that. But I was so caught off guard that I did not handle it well. Oh well, now I know for next time!

These are just random bits of information that have come to mind while I've been sitting at the computer. If there are questions you have about my life, or day to day activities or anything, definitely leave a comment and ask! I'll do my best to address them when I next get the chance to be online.



Merry Christmas!

Merry American Christmas! And Boxing Day in Tonga!

I recently became a real PCV, yaaaaay. We were sworn in at a nice ceremony by the water on the 15th of December. I moved last week to my site and am now in my own house. It's summer break in Tonga right now so school is not in session. That means I have nothing in particular to do except get to know people in my community and integrate.

This past week that has involved participating in various skits/dances/songs with a group of youth in my community. Youth is basically the kids who are in or have graduated from high school but are not yet married, so I technically count as youth even though I will be a teacher at the school. It's a weird kind of in between. The youth are split up into different groups and have been performing every night. I jumped in with the group of which my principal's daughters are a part. We practiced a lot during the day and then did the performances at night. It was a big to-do- tents were rented for the school grounds, huge speakers were set up, and there was a stage. I played the Virgin Mary on a couple nights, danced a few times, and pretended to get married in a reenactment of a scene from Glee (from an episode I had not yet seen, which was frustrating!). I spent most of the time not being sure exactly what was going on and only understanding half of the Tongan spoken to me. However, a lot of the people in my group speak pretty good English so they were sure to help me out.

No matter what I did on stage, though, the Tongans thought it was great just because it was the palangi (white person, foreigner) doing it. All the young men in my village also got a great deal of entertainment out of posing for pictures with me. I just stood there and laughed while they rotated through. Everyone in my village is so friendly and welcoming- it's been a lot of fun.

For Christmas we went to church, had lunch, and then went swimming at the beach. After that my principal dropped me off at a PCV's house in town were a group of us had a potluck and did a yankee swap. I got two very nice coffee mugs! I'm still in town staying with my friend, and will head back to my site tomorrow. It's been a fun little break but it will also be good to get back to my site and continuing getting to know people.

I know this post is a little all over the place- we are in the PC office watching Eat, Pray, Love so I'm trying to multitask. But I just wanted to give you all a little update while I'm here!

I emailed my mom some pictures since it was taking to long to load them on the blog, so she will be putting those up soon. You will get to see my house, my group of youth, and the Peace Corps I did Christmas with. Hopefully I'll figure out how to make albums and stuff soon so I can put up lots of pictures!!

Once again, Merry Christmas! I hope you all had a lovely holiday season and have a great New Years. I'll be thinking of everyone! Love and miss you all tons.