Peace Corps Videos

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Election Day in Tonga

For the first time since I was 16 years old, I was not working on Election night. Instead, I spent the afternoon at a local bar and restaurant called Mango watching the results on CNN International with about 40 other Americans.

Mango sits directly over the water and you can see the water beneath through the cracks in the floorboards. It's also one of the very few places here with Satellite television.

We started gathering around 11am on Wednesday morning, which was 5pm Tuesday night on the East Coast of the USA. By the time the first polls closed at 6pm ET, we had a crowd of Peace Corps volunteers, Peace Corps trainees and an assortment of Americans who either live in Vava'u or are here visiting.

It was a pretty partisan crowd. With the exception of a couple of McCain supporters, almost everyone in the bar was supporting Obama.

When the election got called, there were huge cheers and even some tears as the Americans here united behind their new President. Later when John McCain took to the air to give his concession speech there was complete silence. No one moved or said a word as he spoke. Everyone taking in every word he said. It was a much different story when Obama began his speech. Lots of cheering and more tears of joy.

After his speech, probably half the people left at Mangos decided to go for a swim in the Pacific, jumping off the deck and into the crystal blue water. Most of the Tongans looked at us like we were crazy.

Since the election, I've had several questions about the election of Obama from Tongans. I would have to say the people here in Tonga are impressed that the USA has elected a black President.  They don't all understand it exactly…but they know that someone with dark skin has been selected.   Many have the perception that all Americans are white and rich.    Even in our group, we have a couple of African American volunteers and some Tongans think they are from Africa and not America.  

A Mini-Reunion

There have been lots of Tonga Peace Corps volunteers visiting Vava'u in the past few weeks, volunteers who we don't see very often. Two volunteers (Scot and Mikala) were sent here for work, several more (Casa, Lara, Phil) are here to assist with Peace Corps training and a few more (Grant, Trent, Heather) are here for the VAC or Volunteer Advisory Committee meeting. It's been great to catch up with all of them.

Camping at Lotuma

We had planned to camp on Friday night on the island of Lotuma, which was the site of our Peace Corps July 4th celebration. However with the weather forecast predicting a 100% chance of rain, many decided not to go. I still went, along with six others, and we had a great time until the rain started. Unfortunately as I got into my tent, I found out it was leaking and ended up spending the night sleeping in a big puddle of water. We called early Saturday morning for a boat to come get us to take us back to Neiafu. The rain didn't stop until Sunday morning.

Many of us went sailing together last weekend and had planned to take the Peace Corps trainees out on the water this weekend, but that didn't happen because of the weather. Hopefully we will be able to reschedule that trip.

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