One of the biggest days for every Peace Corps Trainee is the day when they find out their home for the next two years. I'm not talking about the country (at this point it's pretty obvious where I'll be living), but the specific post in which I will stay. It's about finding out your new home. It's about figuring out what community you really get to be a part of, where some of the most important relationships I will make will happen. And while homestay is a great way to be introduced to the culture and the language, this day marks a shift. The training-wheels are being taken off. 8 weeks of language school, cross-cultural studies, technical training and Peace Corps logistics, lead to this.
Today was special. It didn't start off that way, though. It began just as every other day has for the last few weeks: Mark, Alissa and I did our normal Fatumu-Lavengatonga run and then I ate breakfast with Una. At 8:30 we headed to Ha'asini for more training. This time, training sessions included Safety and Security (we learned about the Tongan legal system - I can't mess up) and Sexual Health (which reminded me a lot of human growth and development in middle school - there was a magic banana... I'm not going to go into specifics, but there was a lot of giggling.). Then our Country Director and Program Manager took the stage and set a box in front of everyone. This box, we would soon learn, held our future. One by one we were asked to go up, choose a piece of paper out of the box and read the name and location on the paper. Here is my friend Harrison revealing my location:
So, while I've enjoyed living in the tiny village of Fatumu for the last 7 weeks and will miss my homestay family deeply when I leave (who will eat crab with me for breakfast?), my new home will be an 18-hour ferry ride away on...
the vava'u island group
Due to Peace Corps regulations, I am not allowed to tell you the exact name of the village or school, but since I have to put a name to everything I am going to tell you that I am working in the village, 'Ofa (meaning Love) in the Lelei Government Primary School (Lelei means happy). So from here on out that's how I will refer to those two things. I am very excited because this site was one of my top choices. It all just got real.