There we were entering the grounds of the Queen Salote College Hall on the morning of June 9, 2012, and you could feel the excitement and joy in the bustle of the people all around. It's not often you can say you went to a "first." This was the scene for the 1st. USP (University of the South Pacific) graduation to be held in Tonga. Prior to this if you wanted to attend your ceremony you had to go to Fiji, the main campus. This, of course, is expensive both in money and time. Also, you probably went alone, if you went at all. The Tonga USP Campus, however, is growing, and now they were to have their own graduation ceremony.
|Helping a family member get ready.|
|Greeting friends and relatives before the ceremony.|
Knowing that a friend and fellow PCV could get us tickets, we gladly said we'd like to go. In one way it was the usual graduation--band, processional, music, choir, speeches. His Serene Highness Prince Tungi was the guest of honor.
|The Guest of Honor presides.|
|The choir sings.|
It was when the degrees were conferred that it was special. To have the families and friends there. As each name was read and the graduands came across the stage, all paid attention and applauded. One young man immediately took his diploma to his family who were seated a few rows in front of us, and gave it (we thought) to his grandmother. What a moment! What a celebration! A member of the staff where Jim teaches received his MBA and we could give him our congratulations. It was a memorable 1st, and the 1st of many.
|Jim's coworker receives congratulations.|
|A fellow Peace Corps Volunteer and her colleagues.|