Steve’s Adventure Ends Today

It’s been more than three years since I first applied to join the Peace Corps and what an adventure it has been.  I filled out my application on September 26, 2006, I arrived in Tonga on October 4, 2007 and today, November 23, 2009, I am leaving Tonga, no longer a Peace Corps volunteer.

Officially, I’m now called an RPCV, or a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, but since I haven’t actually returned yet, it seems a bit strange to use that acronym just yet.

A Video Journal

As of today, I’ve written 160 blog entries about my Peace Corps experience with the vast majority written during my two years of service and my 10 weeks of training.   But written words and still photos only allow me to share a portion of my journey.   Therefore, I decided for my last entry from Tonga, I would share with you a video journal about some of the things I’ve found most interesting and some of the things I’ve done.  The video is little long…almost 16 minutes but I just couldn’t cut anything else out.  I have more than 20 hours of footage, so it was quite an accomplishment to get this down to 16 minutes.  I hope you enjoy it.

I shot almost all of the footage in the video except for the interviews.  Those were shot by my friend Chad and I sincerely appreciate his help.

My Future Plans

When I left my job more than two years ago, I knew that once my Peace Corps service was over, I would be coming back to the USA with no job. That day has now arrived and I can happily say that I am now searching for my next opportunity.  I don’t know what that will be and I don’t have anything lined up.  The good news is that I’m very open to just about anything.  My hope is to find something that I will enjoy as much as I have enjoyed my time in Tonga.  I’m open to all suggestions and would love to hear from you.  

I’m also asked regularly if I intend to keep writing this blog.  The answer is no.  As much as I have enjoyed writing about my experiences, this is my final post.  I plan to keep the site active for a while to assist any future Peace Corps volunteers who have questions about the application process or about serving in Tonga, but at some point, I’ll stop paying for the domain name and everything I’ve written will go away.

Saying Good-bye
Much of what I've been doing for the past two weeks has involved saying good-bye to all the people I have met in the past two years.  My last three Sundays were spent at different Tongan homes eating umu, which is the traditional Sunday feast.  I have been humbled by the many thanks and gifts that I have received...too many to even begin to mention here.  And I was honored to have not one, not two, but three going away events....two in Vava'u and one at the head office of the Tonga Development Bank. 

The folks at the Vava'u branch of the Bank went "all out" to say good-bye last Thursday, my last day working there.  We had a a lavish morning tea ceremony and some really wonderful gifts. After everyone said their good-byes, we invited customers to come and join us and they helped us eat all the food the staff had prepared.

At our head office on the main island of Tongatapu, the bank put on another tea for me Friday with the managers and staff saying goodbye. In this photo, the Managing Director presents me with a whale carving made of sandalwood.

And on Thursday night, I spent my last few hours in Vava'u hanging out with my fellow volunteers and other friends at the Aquarium Cafe..

A Final Thought

Many years ago, I heard President Ronald Reagan give a speech and in it, he said something like this:  “We are not here to congratulate ourselves on what we have accomplished, but instead to challenge ourselves to accomplish more tomorrow”.  I’ve probably butchered the quote but the sentiment is sound.  As I think about my service in Peace Corps, I hope that this has just been the beginning.  I hope to challenge myself and others to accomplish more in the future.

‘Ofa lahi atu!  (With much love to you)

UPDATE:  February 17,2010

I worked at WTVC, NewsChannel 9 in Chattanooga for 11 years. After returning back to the USA, I stopped by the station to say hello.   They interviewed me about my Peace Corps experience in Tonga. The station aired the interview over three days on its public affairs program. 

You can watch all three segments below.

NewsChannel 9 interviews Steve Hunsicker about the Peace Corps from Steve Hunsicker on Vimeo.

Post a Comment


  1. though you're not 'congratulating' yourself, we are congratulating you on the completion of your commitment...continued blessings, Steve.

  2. Steve,
    We just wanted to say thank you for your excellent blog. We are Sarah Bond's parents and your posts have kept us well informed about all things happening in Tonga since Sarah's arrival there with group 74. Your blog has sometimes been the only accurate "news" link we had to the events in Tonga. Your contribution to the Tonga grapevine will be sorely missed. Thank you again for your most informative blog and good luck in your future endeavors.

  3. David aka Preacha ManNovember 30, 2009 at 1:34 PM

    Steve, thank you for sharing your adventure with us. I feel as if I am at least a bit more worldly minded/aware. What an opportunity and irreplacable experience. Blessings to you on your future endeavors!

  4. Thanks for the nice comments everyone. I appreciate it!


  5. Hey Steve,
    I stumbled across your blog during my peace corp research and I was wondering what sort of camera you used to record the video footage. I am currently awaiting my invitation and have started researching what sort of camera I should bring. I want to be able to take a lot of video footage so I didn't know if a device like the new flip camcorders would be better. I'm just looking for any advice you may have.

  6. Hey Steve,
    I'm awaiting my invitation for the peace corps and came across your blog during some of my research. I loved the video you made and wanted to know what kinda camera (or camcorder) you used. I want to shoot video footage while i'm abroad, along with take pictures, and wasn't sure what to invest in. I didn't know if the new Flip Camcorder was a good idea, or I'd be better suited to find a camera with some video capabilites. I plan on recording a lot of footage. I was hoping for some advise from someone who has already served. If it helps I will most likely be sent to africa.

  7. Kelsey:
    Hope you get your invitation soon. I initially brought just a plain Canon Point and Shoot camera (Model A710). After a few weeks in Vava'u, I ordered the underwater housing for that camera. It did a decent job for my first year. When I went back to the USA at Christmas, I bought a Sony HDR-SR11 video camera. I had decided by then that I wanted to put together a video. I was very happy with that camera and almost all of the video was shot with it. I also purchased a wireless microphone for it and used a tripod.

    I would not recommend the underwater housing for that camera. I used it, but it was difficult to use and almost impossible to see what you were shooting underwater. There is a more expensive one which might be better, but it costs more than the camera.

    Best of luck.

  8. Dude - Amazing final post! Love the video, hope you're enjoying stateside and we'll talk soon.

  9. It had always excited me to get Steve's post. It was very uplifting for me, in Real Rstate times as they were/are, Lots of uplifting was/is needed. I enjoyed his water adventures most of all, it kinda gave me fantasies of how warm the water was, and the gentle ocean creatures all around. There was always a smile put on my face and spirit, when reading the blogs. The one time there was alot of fear is when there was the earthquake, but soon afterwards NewsChannel 9, let me know that they had spoken/emailed and Steve was Ok. Thanks for all the centering you provided me. It was quite awesome to see and be reminded of how good we have it here. Although I was and am still quite fasinated and envy the Tongans simple way of life. Many Americans would/could/should find their lives so much better off, by returning to simpler ways of living and enjoying life.

    Friday, February 19, 2010 12:54:00 AM

  10. Malo e lelei Steve pea malo e ngaue lahi mo e tokoni ki Tonga.Thanks for sharing your Tonga pc adventure.What a great adventure you took.Just watched your interview with Channel 9.Awesome!To leave the security of your job and go work for nothing.Sounds crazy but for sure you gain at another level.We loose when we share material things but sharing our mind/ideas,we gain.
    Beautiful pictures!I might try swimming with the whales when I get to Vava'u.Saw my parents' house in one of those villeges' pics.
    Thanks,malo 'aupito Steve
    Nofo a

    Saturday, February 20, 2010 12:59:00 AM