April 9, 2005: Headlines: COS - Tonga: Blogs - Tonga: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Kyle in Tonga: It might seem that Iíve lost compassion for the Tongan population

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tonga: Peace Corps Tonga : The Peace Corps in Tonga: April 9, 2005: Headlines: COS - Tonga: Blogs - Tonga: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Kyle in Tonga: It might seem that Iíve lost compassion for the Tongan population

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-37-25.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.37.25) on Tuesday, August 16, 2005 - 5:48 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps Volunteer Kyle in Tonga: It might seem that Iíve lost compassion for the Tongan population

Peace Corps Volunteer Kyle in Tonga: It might seem that Iíve lost compassion for the Tongan population

Another area they Tongans are suffering is the pace at which the culture is changing. I have no idea how many times Iíve said itís becoming more westernized. The major reason itís changing is the influences from the outside. Movies, television, Internet, news, and overseas Tongans are all causing the change. I almost forgot Peace Corps volunteers and other organizations here. Peace Corps has been in Tongan around 35 years now. The problem with all these changes is that the people want to keep their Tongan roots, but at the same time want western style everything. I doubt they will ever find a balance.

Peace Corps Volunteer Kyle in Tonga: It might seem that Iíve lost compassion for the Tongan population

4-9-05

Last night I was thinking a lot about my time thus far in Tonga. It might seem that Iíve lost compassion for the Tongan population. By definition, compassion is sympathy for the suffering of others, often including a desire to help. The Asian Development Bank last week released an article about Tongan suffering. For the most part, people are suffering here because of many factors that I agree with. One of the main concerns that Tongans have is the inability to purchase land for endeavors to increase their returns if that is food or money. Many Tongans overseas hold their land in Tonga. A lot of this land isnít used and legally nobody can do anything about it because the government allotted the land to them. So the simple idea of allowing motivated people to use the land is out of the question. Again, I do not understand all the laws here, but youíd think people could lease their land or sell it. I believe they can sell the land, because thatís how many Mormon Churches are built. So why are these people holding there land? Like many places in the world owning land is a status symbol. I could also involve a feeling of still being Tongan because you are still a part of the Kingdom. Itís just unfortunate that motivated people could use a lot of the land.

Last week a new consumption tax went into place. I havenít noticed a difference, but I think it will trickle into place as time passes. I believe the tax began because of the increase in cost of importing goods to Tonga. The imports and exports are out of whack here. The mere fact that we are in the middle of a huge ocean says a lot about why they need to import goods. But why are they importing these goods? Itís a pretty simple answer: if itís out there people want it. Overseas Tongans send all kinds of stuff to Tonga. As time passes they become attached to the goods just like the rest of the world and donít want to give them up. Every night when I walk home from the computer center I see every house with a television on. The people are suffering from there own wants. The problem with wanting is itís very expensive to get certain goods to Tonga and once you have them you need to continually pay for them. If itís television: you pay the cable bill and electricity bill, if itís radio: you pay the electricity bill, if itís imported food: you pay for it at the store. These kinds of thing are very expensive and for the most part, excluding food, they bring very little good to the people. I shouldnít say all television and radio is bad, but for the most part it is.

Another area they Tongans are suffering is the pace at which the culture is changing. I have no idea how many times Iíve said itís becoming more westernized. The major reason itís changing is the influences from the outside. Movies, television, Internet, news, and overseas Tongans are all causing the change. I almost forgot Peace Corps volunteers and other organizations here. Peace Corps has been in Tongan around 35 years now. The problem with all these changes is that the people want to keep their Tongan roots, but at the same time want western style everything. I doubt they will ever find a balance.

Another area of suffering is the inability to provide for your family. Again, this goes back to the importing of goods everybody wants and the overall cost of acquiring these goods. There are very few jobs here in Tonga. Also, many young men that come into the computer center joke that if they donít know how to use computers they will be farmers. Youth do not see the value in farming. This is a huge problem! If the generation growing up doesnít see the value in providing food for the families they will become more dependent on imported foods. This wouldnít be a problem if there were jobs for the generation growing up that paid enough to provide for their families. There are very few jobs that pay enough to survive just on your income.

This is where remittances come in. Again, I believe another area of suffering. Usually within a family the educated will go over seas so they can send money back home. Also, Iíve heard Tongans going overseas to beg Tongan communities for money. As these people become adapted to overseas life and as time passes they become less aware of their own families needs in Tonga. Likewise, if youíre trying to survive in a culture that is driven by money youíll need it to survive. By sending money back to Tonga, I believe, people will start to question why they are doing it. Itís scary to see people so dependent on others for their survival. Again, I come from a culture that is so individualistic itís hard for me to understand the culture here. The culture is based on reliance. I donít think this is a bad, but itís to the point where they rely way too much on the outside world. For example, the other day, the Chinese government finished building a ten million paíanga (dollar) high school. Itís a very nice campus and I commend the Chinese for building it. Why didnít the Tongan government build it? Again, why spend the money when people from outside the country are willing to give it to you for free. Greed is a problem here.

Thursday night, I was speaking with a Tongan in the computer center. I told him why I was here and my job is at the end of two years to have Tongans working at the computer center, educating the people and making money. It will create needed jobs for people and provide skills that are valued overseas and in the Kingdom. He asked me how much the computer center has made and I told him. I was surprised and was wondering what I do with the money. I told him a pay the bills and put the rest in the bank for savings. He asked why I save the money and not spend it. I told him that, first, itís not my money, and second, we save the money to pay for future expenses. This did not compute in his brain. Most Tongans Iíve found live in the moment and rarely think of there future. This is a big problem. The computer center has the ability, like I said, to provide education, and jobs for people. However, if they do not understand the basics in business and spend the money without saving the computer center will surely close. I know this. Also, this same teenage boy was surprised I wouldnít allow a couple children to play games at 9:45. The minimum payment is 50 cents, which gives you 30 minutes on the computer. I close the computer center at 10 oíclock. You see the problem: I didnít want to take their money and only allow them to play for 15 minutes. Iím very consistent with the rules at the computer center. As soon as I break one people will expect me to do it all the time. So the teenage boy said ď why donít you take their money then kick them out at 10?Ē I told him that would be wrong to take their money and only allow them to play for 15 minutes when, in fact, they paid for 30 minutes. He responded by saying, ďwho cares!Ē I told him I do.

So why did I share this story? If people working at the computer center, for the lack of a better word, screw the people they will lose customers. Customer service is a completely different problem here. I should say what customer service?





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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Tonga; Blogs - Tonga

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By tongan (rh-ip-0749-res.resnet.ucsd.edu - 128.54.219.118) on Thursday, January 11, 2007 - 2:06 am: Edit Post

if you don't understand what's really going on in tongan culture then don't say something about something.there's no other reason for people sending back money to their family but just because they love their parents.they send money back to their parents because they thought its a reward for their parents love.parents paid for school and take care of them until they get a job.don't you understand that.love is important.they like being sharing.


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