21 June 2011

Come see Mele and I at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

At this time next week, Mele, a Tongan artisan, and I will be making our way through U.S. customs with four full suitcases of Tongan crafts, heading to Washington D.C. We are attending the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as presenters of Tongan handicrafts; Mele will spend the two week festival demonstrating and discussing weaving techniques using lou'akau, or pandanus leaves, while I do my best to answer questions about Tonga and some of the work that I have been doing with handicrafts through Peace Corps.

The festival will be held on the National Mall between the Smithsonian Museums every day from June 30-July 4 and July 7-July 11 and will have three main sections: Columbia, Rhythm and Blues, and Peace Corps. We'll be in our own booth in the Peace Corps section for anyone who wants to come by, watch Mele weaving, try on a traditional Tongan outfit, or just chat. To see articles about what we and other volunteers are doing at the festival, visit the Peace Corps site.

In addition, we'll teach four small cooking classes on several iconic Tongan dishes at different times during the two weeks. Check out a schedule at the festival, or on the website to find out when.

We'll also be giving a weaving demonstration and participate on a panel at the Textile Museum on July 6th with a group of Columbian weavers, and I'll be part of several different panels throughout the festival.

And when we're finally back in mid-July, after I sleep for about 5 days straight, I will write all about it on a blog post for everyone to read and see!


  1. How awesome, Elena! Looking forward to the BLOG. ;-)

  2. Marian Heidel22 June, 2011 13:30


    That's terrific! What a wonderful opportunity! But Mark doesn't get to go? some time ago I read about these Smithsonian Festivals and plugged into the websites to watch. I'm passing this blog on to others in the family and to some Peace Corp friends.


    Marian Heidel

  3. Your kinfolk in the big Washington salute your Smithsonian debut in the little one, and your courage confronting midsummer meltdown in Foggy Bottom. Care to cool off on our PNW deck on your way home?
    If not, we'll just have to amass the bullion needed to tarry in Tonga when we someday tour NZ and the Land of Oz.
    Meanwhile, cheers on the concept of carrying craftiness to the Capitol.... If Barry drops by with the wife & kids, tell him that, having found the audacity to hope, we western Washingtonians now hope for audacity...

  4. Thanks! Unfortunately Mark does not get to go; we tried our best to justify him going, but when it came down to it, he just doesn't work with handicrafts, so no luck. I guess when he gets to go to some super cool I.T. conference or energy convention, he can gloat all he wants. :)

    And no, no trip back the Pacific Northwest way, as ever much as I wanted to. We're definitely visiting this December/January, though, so not too long now!

  5. oh my! wow I didn't realize. things have been busy with us, but I'm so pumped to hear about this


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