Valentine's day was yesterday. Brett got up early and snuck out on my bike to find me flowers, there are a lot of really pretty local flowers around here. He was picking some pink flowers out of a bush hanging over from someone's yard when he hear a little boy from a tree in the yard yelling "Oua!! Palangi stop it! Stop it palangi!"!!!! He got yelled at by a little boy for picking the flowers! So he quickly biked away and found some more in another spot. It was really nice to get the flowers though.
The rest of the day we spent at matafonua beach on the northern tip of Foa island, an hour bike ride in the hot weather here. Alicia and Sarah joined us later, we hung out until a little before sunset then biked back and Brett and I made tuna patties and rice for dinner. Alicia got bit by her first molokau (large centipede) the other day in her house, it sounds really painful! And another volunteer here might have dengue fever, you get it from mosquito bites and there are a lot of mosquitos around lately. They're small, faster than the mosqutios back home, and really quiet- they don't buzz like back home.
I started helping out a little at the Ha'apai Youth Congress here. They get small business loans to help out unemployed youth to start their own businesses (youth doesn't mean just teenagers, you're basically considered youth until you get married). So I'll help advise some of the local businesses like a DVD store, weaving, and growing vegetables, and help with other basic editing/reporting skills. Next week there's a workshop through the Youth Congress for teaching a new group here how to be peer educators with HIV awareness so I'll attend that. The manager of the Youth Congress is also going to be our language tutor for me and Brett starting next week. We haven't been using Tongan very much so this will help. I'm still waiting to begin at my other primary jobs. The head of MAFF is still sick in Nuku'alofa and the counterpart for the computer center is also sick (possibly) and no one else works there. There's a lot of interest from the community in the computer classes at the center, so hopefully things will work out, but I can't do it on my own without a counterpart. The whole idea of Peace Corps is to create sustainability so I need to train someone here with the skills to carry on the computer center classes.
Brett's school is a pilot school for testing out new English curriculum for classes 3 and 4 so they had workshops last week, and he'll start co-teaching pretty soon. The government here feels that kids are losing their Tongan language because they start English so early, and many kids can't write or read in Tongan. There's a very limited amount of books and materials in the Tongan language. Instead of starting English in class 1 they're going to wait until class 3 now. And later on kids will have a choice to have their classes all in English or Tongan.
I hope everyone's doing well back home, Happy Valentine's Day!