Some Great PCV's (Peace Corps Volunteers)

Perhaps it is only natural that when you have a small group of Americans living so far away from home that strong bonds and friendships will develop. However, I think there is more to these relationships than just geography. There are some pretty amazing volunteers here; people who you know have their hearts (and their heads) in the right place.

I'm a bit prejudiced, but I think some of the best volunteers we have in Tonga are right here in Vava'u. I'm sure part of that is because I'm around these folks more than the other volunteers, but we've got a great bunch of 14 volunteers in Vava'u ranging in age from 23 to 59.

I think one of the things I like best about my fellow volunteers is the way they watch out for each other and help each other when necessary. This is not just dealing with the usual issues like sickness, homesickness or relationships. It slips into work and every other part of our lives as Peace Corps volunteers.

Just recently, I had to be out of town when two important events took place at the Bank where I work. The Bank sent me to Ha'apai to do workshops and training there, but the week I was gone, two groups wanted some help on how to start a business. We found out about these groups from Shannon, one of my fellow volunteers who knew that I worked with business people here in Vava'u. She is a teacher in the village of Tefisi. I spoke with the Bank's Branch Manager and we agreed we should not make these people wait until I get back from Ha'apai. So Shannon set up the meeting with the people from her village and James, who is also an education volunteer and not a business volunteer, offered to go with the bank employees to assist with the training. Eight people showed up and hopefully one or more of them will be starting their own business very soon.

Then last week we were scheduled to have a workshop on Tuesday in the main town of Neiafu. At the last minute we had to move it to Wednesday. Unfortunately, I had an appointment with the US Embassy that day in Tongatapu and would not be able to attend. I went over to the Vava'u Youth Congress where Stan works and he quickly agreed to help out with the workshop in my place. Stan is a business volunteer like me and also happens to have the same model of laptop as me which includes a remote control for doing PowerPoint presentations. Stan helped set up the workshop, took pictures and assisted the bank staff during the session. Twenty four people attended the workshop.

These are just two small examples of the kind of supportive atmosphere we have in Vava'u, but it not only extends to our fellow volunteers but also to the Tongans we work with every day.

And the volunteers not just here in Vava'u, but from all of the islands are already reaching out to the next group of Peace Corps volunteers who will be arriving in Tonga in October. We've built a web site for them.  The web site grew out of a desire by Justin, one of the Vava'u volunteers, to provide the new volunteers with a suggested packing list as the one that is currently provided by Peace Corps is out of date. However the web page has a lot more than that on it now. It features a way for the members of Tonga Peace Corps Group 74 to contact each other and to get their questions answered about what they can expect during their training and once they become volunteers.. And part of what they can expect will be getting to know some of the amazing volunteers who are already serving here.

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