Thursday, December 18, 2008

We're official Peace Corps volunteers!!

We had our swearing in ceremony last night at a resort on the western side of Tongatapu, we're now official peace corps volunteers and not trainees anymore!!! It feels so good to be done with training, and not having to go to any more sessions/classes, and being able to do what we want now with our time!

We had a quick rehersal, then got to the resort in the early evening. It was a really pretty location, right on the ocean with a balcony/bar overlooking it, and the restaurant area was decked out in flowers, plants, colored lights, etc. and you could see the ocean from the ceremony. We were all seated before the guest of honor arrived - the Prime Minister of Tonga was our guest of honor!! He was older, and had a few security guards with him, and was seated at the front facing us all along with the country director for the ceremony. There was an opening hymn and prayer, and speeches from the country director, training manager, and then the prime minister addressed us all and gave a speech and talked about his history with peace corps, it was really cool to see that he cared and he said his office and the government offices are open anytime to us if we need anything! We all had to raise our right hand and repeat an oath to the country director to be officially sworn in as volunteers, then we all got pins and a certificate handed to us one by one by the country director and the Prime Minister. After the swearing in, a few members of our group performed a ta'olanga dance. Then a little later we had a buffet dinner with tongan food, and the resort had some entertainment on stage - a live band that was really good, and traditional dancing. Our host family from Navutoka also came to the ceremony along with some of the other host families. It was nice that they took the time and drove all the way out there, it's a long ways from Navutoka. They gave us huge flower leis to wear! So it was a really fun night, we went out for awhile after we were driven back to the guest house.

Today Brett had emergency coordinator training most of the day (he's gonna be the back-up for the ha'apai group), and I shopped for more last minute stuff. We leave tomorrow for our new home in Ha'apai!!! And our all our stuff won't arrive until next Tuesday (hopefully) on the boat, so we've gotta get by without our oven/stove, supplies, etc. until then. And for anyone wondering, our address will stay the same.

New photos of the swearing in, I'll label them later, gotta go do more shopping now.

Our group with the prime minister in the middle, country director, and chinese ambassador

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