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The threat of a passing cyclone proves that it’s not always a topical paradise, but one month has passed here in Tonga.

It’s gone quick, but it hasn’t gone easy, so I applaud myself for adjusting. As the truth is, within a few days I was questioning what I was doing here . I quickly found my answers in earlier blog and journal entires. Three months ago I had  written,

” I want to let go of my comforts and all that defines me. Journey to the other side of the mountain, to in the darkness, see my home under the light that reveals all its really worth”

Since being here I’ve found even more answers. It’s an unfortunate reality but parts of the world don’t have anywhere near the same opportunities and resources Australia has. They need as much help as they can get, and that’s what I’m here to do.  Applying for the program, I was aware of the need, but it was only upon arriving, did a sentence to read on my job description become a reality to experience.

Starting work increased the intensity of the experience. It’s difficult to believe that in this day and age, a college is just only getting connected to the Internet and still relying on blackboards and chalk. It was difficult at first, until I changed my focus from what needs to be done, to what I could do. In my workplace and beyond in the community, I had to come to terms with the fact I am just one person. Sure, full of high hopes having signed up to the program and wanting to change the world, but I’m still only one person.

I started to understand the concepts of capacity building and sustainable development, and how the actions of individuals collectively make an impact overtime. I’ve met many other volunteers from other countries and learned that the desire to make the world a better place is universally understood without translation.

As much as I’m here to give, I’m realising how much there is to also personally gain. At first I felt a sense of pity for all the ‘things’  they didn’t have here. Then I realised I’m surround by music, community, culture, connection, family, nature, love and laughter. Sure, they move at a slower pace, but it gives them more time to smile which seems to be something that back home, people can’t find the time to do. Even with my ‘things’, I don’t smile as much as I should, so maybe I’m the one that should be pitied.

It’s true I miss certain people and activities, but you only know what you got when its gone. Or in my case, temporarily gone. So I’m glad I’m getting this perspective and insight at an early age so upon returning, I’ll be able to hopefully live life as a more grateful person. I see how the life we live is in a certain paradox. The more we develop, the more we demand. But that’s a post for another time.

There is no bridge,I spend time by the wharf and water. In the afternoon I’m surrounded by children, teenagers and the sound of laughter with no iPads in sight.  I question what happiness really is and gaze off into the endless stretching ocean, occasionally thinking about the people it’s separating me from, and if I’ll return the same person. At night I stare at the sky, introducing myself to stars I have never seen before. In just one month, being here has already shown me there is so much more to see in the night sky, and even more in life.

Tags : international aidinternational travelMarketingnon for profitsocial causessouth pacifictongatravelvolunteering

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