13 May 2011

There's no "us" in bureaucracy

We just published this blog post two days ago, and to our bewilderment, the post was missing today. And even more strange, everyone got emailed an old post from October entitled "Business in Tonga." 
We apologise for this confusion. We've looked for clues as to how this happened, but are baffled. Ooo!
-Elena and Mark
Update on 19 May: Based on feedback we received from other bloggers, it seemed like there was a major glitch at Google, wiping any blog posts from the internet that had been published during those days. We change our "Ooo!" to "Boo!"

There's no "us" in bureaucracy

The idea started as a little thought that simply consisted of "Two years is so short!" but grew to "What if we stay for a third year through Peace Corps?" as we fell in love with Tonga.

While we looked at schools, applied for jobs, and considered where we would live next, the idea was always there: we could stay in Tonga. Always heavily promoted by Peace Corps, volunteers have the option of staying for a third or fourth year, if their ongoing job is something that is sufficiently worthy. We have always had serious possibilities elsewhere we're considering, but the closer we got to December, the more that it seemed like a good idea to postpone other ideas for a year to finish our work here in 2012.

So naturally, our faces dropped when the email came from our Peace Corps country director, saying, "PC/Tonga is authorized for only two 13-month extensions, which both need to be in the Primary School arena,"  which in regular English means that Mark and I canot stay for any longer than December in Tonga through Peace Corps.

The lack of extension spots comes ultimately from changes that Peace Corps is making in the Tonga post. Faced with volunteer dissatisfaction at the quality of training; increasing intake of volunteers from Australia, Japan, and independent organizations; budget difficulties; and concern over the safety of volunteers placed on remote islands; to name a few, Peace Corps headquarters decided to step in. To the distress of Tongan school administrators and current volunteers, Peace Corps cut the other volunteer positions in vocational skills, business advising, and secondary school education so that the next group of volunteers to come in will be uniformly teaching English in Tongan primary schools.

It's a sad day for us and for all those organizations that badly needed a vocational teacher, computer help, or a business advisor.

But ultimately, life -- Tonga --  goes on. Those organizations will find creative ways to work around their challenges, and we will find creative ideas for what to do after this December. We're actually really excited about what might come next, whether here in Tonga or in another part of the world! Whether it's finding a job that will allow us to stay in Tonga for a little while longer, doing graduate arts research in New Zealand, applying for school and work in Rome, or living out of a tent, selling handmade journals and computer help for a while, it will sure be an adventure to come. Now, whose back yard can we camp in!


  1. AND the post I placed here two days ago also disappeared !

    Wishing both of your God's best as you prepare your plans for 2012. I hope it will include at least a short visit to Oregon in the coming years.


  2. Jim Blackwell14 May, 2011 07:58

    The post I thought about disappeared also. May God's hand lead you in your next place.


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