I already had a huge amount of respect for the service men and women of the United States of America, but it has multiplied by a lot the last few days.
I think a lot of the time I automatically connect our service men and women with guns and protecting our country. And while that is an extremely important and selfless act, the last few days I've been able to see a completely different side.
Over the last year and a half a few Air Force soldiers visited my school a handful of times. They took tours and began looking at ways to improve the already existing structures so that they would be a safer and make it a happier place to learn.
For the last 48 hours a group of Air Force men and women have come to our school to help make it a better place. It's definitely in need of some updates and these men and women came prepared.
|Pouring new cement steps.|
|Cutting new door frames.|
They've replaced many windows and doors, painted the exterior and fixed some electrical problems that made teaching on rainy/cloudy days really tough (it's hard to teach in a dark classroom). Their generosity to the people of this community has been really amazing to see and it's been fun to share with other Americans my little corner of Tonga.
|Salesi (the Class 3/4 teacher) helping out!|
When I returned home from the market this morning (Saturday) a huge portion of the village met these men and women and thanked them with the nicest feast I've seen yet in Tonga. It was a great time to translate between the soldiers and community members. I was reminded multiple times throughout the day of the sacrifices these men and women make (much longer than my two year Peace Corps term) and the special set of skills it seems most every American service woman and man possess (perseverance, kindness, being brave - except they weren't quite brave enough to eat pig brain... ;-) sai pe! [it's okay!]).
|They even let me help out! I love painting!|
|Showing the Air Force how a Tongan feast is done.|
|'Ofa liked potato salad too!|
On behalf of the GPS (Government Primary School) I work at and the people of my village, thank you American Air Force!