Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In a far, far galaxy... (or, same same, but different)


In other words, a Sunday School Christmas Program is pretty much the same here as in any church we've ever been to. We were invited to attend a program at an Anglican church. There was a Christmas tree and decorations, joyous Christmas music, earnest children presenting the message, and anxious adults directing them.  And it was in English! The biggest difference? A 3-hour program. A little long for American tastes and sensibilities, but normal here. Every class level had something to share--songs, dramas, dance, and most of all, joy. Each child received a present by name from the pastor, and delicious refreshments followed. Here's a small sample of the sights and sounds of the evening:
In a corner on the stage.

Older youth present a drama and dance.


Preteens sing and dance.

Another dance with holiday music and a message for the season.
An adult director dresses for the evening.

The littlest angel didn't quite make it to the finale.
video

We were invited to be a part of an International Volunteer Day program, and I wanted to share this music from it. The singing group is from Tupou High School, and the band from Tupou College.

video

Kalisimasi fiefia! This is our Christmas card to all of you. May you have a blessed Christmas with family and friends, and a wonderful New Year!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pomp and circumstance, Tongan style



Students wait for the practice and others bring benches for additional seating.

Prizes for students vied with reports for room on the library tables.

I arrived in the library on Wednesday, November 30, to find the tables piled high with wrapping paper and "prizes" or awards for the top 3 students in each class. Teachers were wrapping, while others were completing their grades and reports. Outside a tent had grown in the playground overnight, and students were bringing the benches from their classrooms for the program's seating for tomorrow. No one wore uniforms, and many students elected to stay home. It was a 1/2 day, with only the practice scheduled for it.  At midmorning the form 2 students went through their marching routine, and students were taught how to receive their awards. The top 10 in each class would be recognized, and the top 3 would receive prizes.

A final sweep to the area before the big day.

Students are ready and waiting.

A class 3 student waits quietly.

It was not a normal day when I walked onto the school grounds the next morning at the usual time. It was too quiet. Only a few students were around and a teacher was giving the area a last sweep before the day began. Two Form 2 students came in the library and were already sad and nostalgic to see their years at Hilliard ending. A little before 9 the Beulah Band arrived, more people came, and it was beginning to look like something special was not only planned, but was going to happen.

Form 2 students march in and salute and wait during the playing of the National Anthem and the raising of the flag.

A student receives recognition for a job well done.

Top 10 class 6 students bow after receiving their awards.




The students of Form 2 marched in, the band played the National Anthem, there were prayers, hymns, welcomes and speeches before we got to the real reason for the day: the awarding of recognition to the top ten students in each class for their academic work and achievement during the past school year. Children were festooned with kahoa, (leis) and proud and adoring parents presented them with more. Photos were taken. 

The band played during a couple of interludes. My favorite piece was a medley of "In the mood," "Rock around the clock," and "Barbara Ann." The top Form 2 student made a short speech. 
Form 2 students getting final instructions before receiving their awards.

Valedictory speech by the top Form 2 student.

The National Anthem played again, and it was over. Another school year done, achievements acknowledged. It wasn't long before most had left, the band members were served lunch, and the process of putting everything away was begun. Now, a holiday break--a time for resting and recharging. Soon the 2012 school year would be under way.... A teacher and her husband had offered me a ride home, and as I crossed the playground to climb into their truck the thought was--how will I feel at this time next year?