Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Yes" is the answer to everything

In Tonga the common answer to everything is "io", which sounds sometimes like "yo" or sometimes like "ee-yo", depending on the emphasis and the situation. "Io" means "yes". So walking down the street when people greet each other, the answer to the greeter is usually a short "io" (sounding like "yo"). When people are talking or telling stories the listeners usually interrupt or end with "io, io" (sounding like ee-yo, ee-yo). Or in church when the congregation agrees with what the pastor is saying, or during long prayers, you'll hear men saying "io", sounding like a long, loud, low-toned "yooooo". I always wanted to try this one out, since it's always tongan men who do this, I wonder what they'd think of a white girl doing it. And when you ask Tongans anything in a yes or no form, they'll almost always answer yes. Yes it's okay to eat that, yes it's safe to swim there, yes there are no sharks (but there are), yes you can wear whatever you want in town, yes I'll come to work tomorrow (and then never show up), yes, yes, yes. So we have to think about how we word questions here, to make sure we get an answer and not just a yes. Or if not a verbal yes, we'll get a non-verbal yes to those types of questions. Here raising your eyebrows means "yes". So you can have a whole conversation with someone who just answers by raising their eyebrows, which can be frustrating after awhile when you're the only one talking. So please forgive Brett and I if we come back and start raising our eyebrows at you during conversations, we're not crazy, just acting a little Tongan. Hopefully this trait won't come up in job interviews. You could look at a deeper side of saying yes to everything - as in it will open up more experiences, etc. or that Tongans are just lazy and take the easiest way out everytime. They'd rather just raise an eyebrow than have to say a short "io". But another side to that is that they also just want to please everyone, especially on such small islands you can't really have big disagreements.

Some other news in Peace Corps Tonga, our country director is leaving this fall, he's taking the country director job in Gambia. We wish him the best, and will miss him, now there will be all new American staff here. We also had a friend in our group decide to leave early, we wish him the best back home and know he's enjoying the food and hot showers there! Now our group has 19 volunteers left, and so does the group before us.

We've been enjoying some of the best sunsets this week, the weather has been clear so we've been able to see Kao and Tofua volcanoes very clearly, and the sun is setting right behind Kao. And I've spotted some humpback whales, right in our backyard!! I saw one breach right in front of Kao, and some more playing in the water, I could see it all from our living room! Here are a few photos of the sunsets, and the eight little puppies here. There are also more new photos on the link to the left.

No comments: