Peace Corp Volunteer | FAQ

Here are the answers to a few questions I thought you all might be interested in:

What are you counterparts?

I have a counterpart Laukau who is a fellow teacher, fluent in English and lives in the same village. She is the person who I go to with any questions about the village, school, schedules, language (she is my language teacher also) and she goes with me to many things to be able to answer questions and just generally help me out. I also have a supervisor Lopa who is the principal at our school. She is like a counterpart but involved with more overhead things like if I need someone to fix something in my house or time off or something.

They are both really nice and I am learning a lot from both of them.

Are any of the other volunteers near you?

I am on the main island of Tongatapu so there are actually abut 20 other volunteers on the island. If I go into town I will inevitably see at least one (probably 10 work in town) I am 25KM from the capital and about 15 KM from the closest volunteer. Close enough to be able to get together when we want, but no stopping by to get a tablespoon of sugar.

Where are you working and when do you start?

I will be working at Nakolo GPS (Government Primary School) which is essentially an elementary school grades 1-6 called class 1-6 and I will teach them all English. I am also going to work in the community which I don’t know what I will be doing yet. That is based on needs and projects I want to help organize.

I remember some of the people in Malawi telling us about how they had servants when they were in the peace corps, are you going to? Or guards or anything?

I will not have servants or guards. That is based on the culture and in Malawi it is probably more needed and a good way to give local people jobs. Some Peace Corps volunteers live in home stays for the entire 2 years. I have my own house with many locks. I don’t think I have ever locked my house so much, but better safe than sorry on that note I still live alone. Living alone is very weird in this culture and at a moments notice if I said I was uncomfortable or scared (of ghosts or devils that might get you when you are alone) I would have a house full if I need it. Laukau has already offered to stay any night I want. One day my neighbor Anna did come over and help with laundry and swept the kitchen, just for something to do and to be with me. So I have helpful neighbors more than anything else.

So, are you just on your own and you get a stipend for food and everything else?

My house, water and electricity are provided by the school and I get a stipend for food and whatever else. If I got sick or needed to go somewhere else for Peace Corps they would give and extra stipend for those days. I am definitely fine, well taken care of. As for food Tongans love to eat (and constantly make fun of me for not eating enough, by the way I have gained 5 pounds) so if I ever said I was hungry, someone, more likely 4 people would share their food or bring me meals (which are more often enough for 2 or 3 meals) All in all it is wonderful, more so even when I learn the language! Little by little it is sinking in.