And so we are back home, in Richmond. It is hard for me to talk about the trip because I get so emotional. The first thing people say to me was “how was Tonga?” My response has been “indescribable.” Words cannot do this trip or any other trips justice in my opinion. The memories that we are made on that trip, not only with our classmates, but with the kids and their parents is truly irreplaceable.
During this trip, we got to observe the lifestyle of the locals, and very closely. Due to the size of the island, we were able to get to know everyone and see everything relatively fast. Which meant we created tight bonds with the staff of the resort almost instantly, along with the kids. It was as if we were visiting family for the 100th time because of the way they treated us. Welcoming us with open arms and warm smiles. There was more than enough love to go around and everybody was able to be touched by their unique, but unwavering hearts.
We each had a little buddy, or our own “babies” as Ms. Sena would call them. My baby’s name was Simione (pronounced simee – oh – ney), or Simi for short. We bonded over frisbee and chasing each other until I would have to take a break because it was so hot. We played. Our whole relationship was built off of having fun. We only exchanged a few words because of the language barrier and the fact that he was only 8 so he had not learned a lot of english. The older kids (12 year olds) had better english, still not great but better so that we would be able to have simple conversations with them. Right before we left, Simi pulled me aside and gave me tapa cloth that him and his mom had made for me. They did not have much, but for them to buy tapa cloth, which is not cheap, and give it to me just made me so much more grateful. Grateful to have got to know everyone on that island and to be able to make a difference in their lives.
Originally, I only saw the trip as a project where we would be helping the families on Atata Island and getting to experience a third-world country. I however did not take into account all the things that I would learn, not only from the experience but the people. The best way I could describe the people on Atata Island would be pure. Their lives are complete just the way it is. They are perfectly content with what they have there, which is not a lot especially compared to Canada. We try to make ourselves happy by buying more things until there is nothing left to buy. On Atata, they find happiness in themselves and each other. Not tainted by technology or materialism. Pure. Something that I aspire to be.
Until next time,