Together for the Last Time!

Almost two years ago, on October 2, 2007, I first met the people who would become known as “Peace Corps Tonga Group 73”.  These 33 strangers would soon become friends sharing the experience of serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tonga.

We spent a grueling three months together during training before becoming volunteers and heading out to our job assignments.   We reunited twice for Peace Corps conferences and along the way, many of our friends left Tonga, each having his or her own reason for leaving early.

Last week, for the last time, the members of my group got together on the main island for what in Peace Corps speak is called our “Close of Service Conference”.  Unlike past conferences which focused on our service, this one was really all about the volunteers and was designed to prepare us for our life after Peace Corps.  For the 19 of us who have remained in Tonga, it was also our last time together.IMG_3444 While we all arrived in Tonga on the same date, most of us will be leaving on different dates. I’m officially leaving Tonga on November 23rd, exactly two months from today.  Many of our group will leave before then.  For those of us who don’t live on the main island, that means we will not see the volunteers who leave before us. 

We spent our last few days together as a group reminiscing about our service, talking about those who had left early and discussing our plans for the future.   There was also talk about a reunion once we all get back to the USA.

On our last night, Peace Corps provided us with a delicious feast and Tongan entertainment. 

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It was a fun night.  At the end of the evening, we did a group dance, everyone coming up on the stage for one last dance together.

DSCN3121 And then one last group hug.

DSCN3122It’s certainly not the end of my Peace Corps experience, but a major milestone in my Peace Corps service.   I’m now back home in Vava’u and realize how many things I still want to do in my remaining two months.  

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