Friday, June 10, 2011

Uike Kaka [Cheating Week!]

Alright, I am going to cheat a bit this week and not write a real blog.  However, I posted some new pictures which will have to suffice.  Peace Corps & friends recently went on an island camping trip complete with hot dogs, birthday cake, and a big bonfire!  We snorkeled, relaxed, and listened to Tongan legends around the campfire [and only got rained on once!].  Definitely a successful journey.  Enjoy the pictures.

https://picasaweb.google.com/115337002678167742573/VakaEituBirthdayAdventure?authkey=Gv1sRgCOud1pyq8vHKoAE

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Camp GLOW --- Girls Leading Our World

Campers at Camp GLOW Vava'u 2010 pose at the end of a great week!

Every day here in Tonga, I seem to stumble upon additions to my mental list of ‘things I’ve taken for granted’ about my life and upbringing in the States.  I really need to start keeping post-it notes handy in order to create a comprehensive list.  Of course there are the luxurious conveniences of hot showers and microwaves back in the good ‘ol USA.  There is also the ultimate luxury of air conditioning!  However, I’m realizing that these palpable amenities I thought I’d be lost without…are pretty inconsequential.  ok.  Maybe they aren’t inconsequential, but I have been impressed by the human mind and body’s incredible ability to adapt.  That being said, I’ve definitely come to appreciate the more 
intangible privileges I was blessed with as
 an American kid.

Growing up, a few essential beliefs were drilled into my mind by my wonderful parents, teachers, family, and simply by growing up in in the context of American culture.  I’ve always known that my future was my own.  I believe that with integrity, hard work, and goals; the world just might be my oyster.  I know that I am a person who, just like all others, deserves to be treated with respect.  And maybe most importantly, I’ve been encouraged to dream for myself and for others.

Campers discuss issues surrounding sexual harassment. 
These thoughts are so fundamentally woven into my belief system that it has taken me a while to realize just how different Tongan culture is from my own.  This is especially evident for young women, which brings me [finally] to the reason I’m writing this post.  Despite the many wonderful things about Tonga and its culture, the values I just mentioned are rarely instilled in Tongan youth [especially girls].  Camp GLOW is a Peace Corps initiative that aims to change that!  Camp GLOW is held in Peace Corps countries all over the world and strives to encourage young women to become active citizens by building their confidence, increasing their self-awareness, and developing their skills in goal setting, assertiveness and career and life planning. 

It's not Camp GLOW without a human pyramid!
High School girls who exhibit academic excellence and leadership potential are invited to this weeklong camp free of charge.  They get to interact with speakers who are successful Tongan women in business, health, and a variety of other fields. The girls participate in activities focused on goal setting, critical thinking and decision making, computer literacy, public speaking, conflict resolution, reproductive health, the rights of women and children, sexual harassment and domestic abuse, nutrition, first aid, and environmental responsibility. I know this all sounds like very serious business, but there is lots fun involved as well.  This is summer camp, after all! We will be singing, playing, and enjoying great company for a whole week!

As I’m sure you guessed in the first line of this post, its ending was bound to include a catch!  Unfortunately, summer camps cost quite a lot of money!  We have a lot of community support here in Vava’u [and we’ve been fundraising locally], but outside assistance is needed to really make the camp a success.  That’s where you come in…  any monetary assistance you could
provide would be greatly appreciated!              



I am including a link to the National Peace Corps website where you can read more and donate to Camp GLOW Vava’u.  No worries.  It is totally secure and 100% of your donation will directly support Camp GLOW!  [A semi-government project with transparency and no bureaucracy?  How can you resist that?]