My Friends in Tonga

I believe we are all influenced by the people with whom we associate.  If you hang around negative people, it tends to make you more negative.  If you find yourself around someone who is cynical, eventually, you may start to question everything.

I’m very fortunate that for the past two years I’ve been surrounded by a lot of friendly and positive folks.  And I hope that their influence on me continues long after I leave Tonga.

Just like in the USA, I have several groups of friends here ranging from my work friends to my personal friends to my fellow volunteers.  IMG_2985

These are the folks who I work with at the Tonga Development Bank in Vava’u.  I’ve seen each of these people almost every working day since I moved here.

They are a great group of folks and they love to laugh at me almost as much as I like to laugh with them.  (Okay, sometimes I laugh at them too!)

The man in the middle on the first row is my great friend Fuka, who is the manager of the branch.  He’s been such a great help to me during my service that I can’t imagine being a volunteer in Tonga without him around.  We are the same age, have a lot in common and we shared a memorable fishing trip last year.

My fellow volunteers have also been an important part of my life, especially those who arrived at the same time as I did.  Our training group, Tonga Group 73, initially started with 33 volunteers.  There are now just 18 of us left and next week the remaining group members will start to leave for good.  (November 12th is the first day we are allowed to leave and we have until December 12th to depart unless we request an extension).

However, the volunteers to whom I’ve been the closest are the ones with whom I’ve shared an island. Group 71 and Group 72 were both here in Vava’u when I arrived.PB230030  They are now gone, replaced for the past year by the members of Group 74.

Two weekends ago we had a final camping trip with the the eight Vava’u volunteers  (and some other friends.)

It was a last chance for us to hang out together for an extended period of time.   We spent two nights camping on an uninhabited island. 


There were originally eight people from my group in Vava’u.  James, Shannon and I are the only three who remain. (Shannon is in the white top and that’s James in the red shirt.)

The members of Group 75, who are all now in training, will arrive after we have all departed. Six of them have been assigned to Vava’u but none will be replacing James, Shannon or myself.

Some Random Notes

  • I obtained by Advanced Open Water SCUBA certification last week.  This follows my basic Open Water certification in March.  My final dive was a night dive and it is such a difference experience than diving in the day.  We also encountered a three foot shark who seemed a lot less interested in us than we were in him.
  • My last day at work is November 19th.  I fly to the main island on November 20th and then I leave Tonga for good on November 23rd.  I will be traveling to New Zealand and Australia before arriving home to West Palm Beach on December 8th.
  • I’ve been sick for the past six days and have rarely left the house.  It’s frustrating because there are so many things I want to do before I leave Vava’u and losing six days when you only have three weeks left sucks.   However, I’ve been pretty healthy during my service so I guess it was my time.

Good-bye Shannon

I have another video to add to my Peace Corps Tonga videos.   This is a good-bye video I put together for my friend Shannon.  Shannon has lived in the village of Tefisi in Vava’u for the past two years.   I am in this video as is my dog,  Solitia.

Shannon Gentry's Life in Peace Corps Tonga from Steve Hunsicker on Vimeo.

I am now working to complete my own video about my service.  I hope I can get it done before I leave Tonga.

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