Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Coming Home...

I'll be home May 13th through May 31st for Josh's graduation. That is in just over 2 months. Get excited, people! I know I won't get to see everyone (sorry!), but don't worry, I'll be home only 6 or 7 months after that.


Before and After....

So lots of things have changed since I came to Tonga. I shall share them with you, because some of them are interesting.

Before Tonga....
I couldn't stand to be in the same room as a spider. Seriously. One time I slept in my basement for three nights because I saw a tiny one crawl across my bed.
I kill giant wall spiders with my flip flop. This isn't as badass as volunteers who live in countries with poisonous spiders, but still.... big step.

Before Tonga....
I was a vegetarian for five years.
I'm not. Just devoured some barbecue. It was delicious.

Before Tonga....
I washed my hair every day.
I wash it a couple times a week. Last week, I didn't wash it for 6 days. It still looked fine (courtesy of headbands from Ms. Hannah Webb. Also, clarification- I shower, just don't wash my hair.)

Before Tonga....
I rarely drank soda.
I drink significantly more soda. It's one of my treats. Bad habit, I know.

Before Tonga....
I had two tattoos.
I have three tattoos.

I know that there are more of these, because I write them in my head pretty frequently. But now that I'm trying to actually type them up, I can't think of them! Ah! I'll try to write them down as they come up and then do another post on these before and afters.



I have acquired a dog. His name is Banjo.

I got him in December when my friend John (johnoutsidethelines.blogspot.com), who had lived in Ha'apai and was finishing out his service, headed back to the US. Banjo and I had already had some bonding time when I visited Ha'apai, but I was still a bit nervous about him joining my household of toko taha pe (just one). I'm not a huge animal person. I like them, but I lack skills.

However, it's worked out fine. Banjo is a very smart dog and John trained him well, although he did spoil him a bit. Banjo sometimes stays in the house and sometimes outside. He barks at night but is learning not to as I discipline him in a kind but firm manner (hahaha). We are working on getting rid of his fleas with the medication I got from another volunteer. My neighbours like him (mostly) and the students at my school adore him because he is a kuli angalelei (nice dog) and they can pet him. He gets a little distracting during school sometimes but I think that will pass.

Overall, Banjo and I are having a great time together, although I know he misses John. Banjo pictures will be coming soon, probably on facebook! Not because I'm one of those people that likes to make facebook albums of their pets- seriously, no one wants to see those- but I promised John haha.

Love and miss you all!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Camp GLOW and Glow Worms (Unrelated, guys...)

On behalf of KO's kind response to my most recent (if you use the term recent loosely) post, I shall provide more information on Camp GLOW and the unrelated glow worms of New Zealand.

First, Camp GLOW, from last September...
The counselors all got there on the Sunday to prepare for the arrival of the girls on Monday. We had posters to make and classrooms to set up. We were also bonding and getting pumped. We had 5 counselors and 6 junior counselors (campers from the previous year). Everyone was super excited.

The girls came on Monday morning. Check-in was a little crazy, as we ended up having 35 girls- which is great! We were holding the camp at one of the schools in an outer village, Nukunuku. We used three of the primary school classrooms to sleep in and then used the hall for sessions and meals. Camp GLOW is an interesting camp because it's not just fun and games and sports like most summer camps, although those things are certainly included. Because it's about empowering and educating girls, we have a lot of class-type sessions. The girls learned about building self-esteem, setting goals, responding to sexual harassment, and the negative impacts of alcohol and drugs. They had time to reflect in their journals at the end of the day, and to discuss what they had learned within small groups.

Some highlights of Camp GLOW:
  • Visit to Parliament- the girls were only the 2nd student group to get a tour of the inside of Tonga's Parliament building! The first group was the previous year's Camp GLOW.
  • Model Mamas- the girls got matched up with women working in the community and went to work with these women, kind of like 'take your daughter to work day.' They visited with women who worked at the bank, the Peace Corps office, the airlines, the Tongan handicraft store, and a bunch of other different locations
  • the Career Panel- a number of professional women came to the camp and described their jobs to the girls. The girls got to ask questions of the women, and the session ended up extending far beyond is allocated time because the girls were so eager to talk to the women! It provided the girls with a lot of inspiration in terms of future careers and it was also great because so many of the women had families as well.
  • the Beach Clean-Up/Bonfire- we went to a nearby beach one day and did a clean-up of the area. Afterwards, we had time for swimming, volleyball, and just hanging out at the beach. When it started to get dark, we were able to have a bonfire!
Even though there were a few glitches in the program throughout the week, everything went very well and the girls had a great time. They definitely learned a lot! Our counselors were fantastic and so inspirational for the girls. Our junior counselors really stepped up, especially two girls who acted incredibly mature and were real leaders among their peers. Overall the week was a great success and we're hoping to have that happen again this year. Just started planning for Camp GLOW 2012, so be prepared for lots of information (and begging and pleading for money) when that comes!


Unrelated glow worms (this is for you, KO!)...

SO COOL! We went on this cave tour at Waitomo while we were in New Zealand. There are a bunch of options for cave tours, but we decided to go with the smaller company which was definitely a great choice. There were only 5 of us on our tour- me and two friends as well as another couple. We went into the cave with our headlamps on but eventually turned them off so we could see the glow worms better.

Glow worms are little worms that feed off of little buggies in the river. So for the best glow worms, there needs to be a moving, fresh water river going through the cave. We got into a raft and our guide toured us up and down the river. It was so beautiful! Seeing the glow worms on the roof of the cave was like looking up at the stars, but being so close you could reach out and touch them (which we of course did not do). We were all completely silent and it was pitch black except for the worms. It was so, so amazing. I highly recommend this for anyone who happens to find themselves in New Zealand- and I recommend finding yourself there sometime soon!

Okay that's about it in terms of things the glow... hahaha.

Love and miss you lots!