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August 14, 2022

‘A Virtual Explosion of Colors, Textures, and Life’

Coral Reef Curiosities INTRIGUE, DECEPTION AND WONDER ON THE REEF AND BEYOND By Chuck Weikert Dayton Publishing Reviewed by Steven Boyd Saum   Chuck Weikert served as a Volunteer in the Kingdom of Tonga 1977–79. He recounts a snorkeling excursion to the windward side. “The reef opened up in a virtual explosion of colors, textures, and life that stretched into the deep blue beyond. It was mind boggling!” So begins a love affair with the undersea world — captured here in 25 chapters tracing the lives of creatures that inhabit coral reefs, and weaving in the history of humans’ interaction...

April 22, 2022

Relief for Tonga

In the aftermath of disaster, raising awareness and funds to support community-driven response By Michael Hassett and Chiara Collette Relief supplies for communities devastated by the eruption and tsunami. Photo by Drew Havea   On January 15, an underwater volcano erupted in the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific, sending a wide plume of soot and gas miles into the air. The eruption was so enormous that it was heard as far away as Alaska and was seen from space. The island group of Ha‘apai, where the eruption occurred, was battered. Forty miles south, tsunami waves crashed into Tongatapu, the...

December 18, 2021

Honors from the Library of Congress for Friends of Tonga

A virtual read-aloud program brings recognition from the 2021 Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program.   By NPCA Staff   Friends of Tonga, established by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in 2018, got some well-earned recognition this fall: 2021 Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program Best Practice Honoree. It was the creation of a virtual read-aloud program that brought the award. That program has developed a resource library of videos in which English speakers record themselves reading stories. All books have been authorized by the authors and publishers for use. The video library, with more than 80 recordings, is housed on the Friends of...

September 26, 2020

Meet the 2020 winners of the Loret Miller Ruppe Award: Friends of Korea and Friends of Tonga

Recognizing contributions to community service by two groups founded by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers By NPCA Staff   National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Loret Miller Ruppe Award for Outstanding Community Service: Friends of Korea and Friends of Tonga. The awards were presented on September 25 at the annual meeting of NPCA. Named for the widely admired 10th Director of the Peace Corps, the annual Loret Miller Ruppe Award is presented by NPCA to outstanding affiliate groups for projects that promote the Third Goal of Peace Corps — “strengthen Americans’ understanding about the world and its peoples” — or continue...

August 20, 2020

Coming Home: Tonga

Tonga | Natalie Somerville Home: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania   Photo: Mangrove forest, Tonga. Photo courtesy Natalie Somerville.   Mālō ‘etau lava. Ko Navi au. Na’a ku nofo i Tonga. On the beautiful island of ‘Eua, where I was serving as a Volunteer, I’m known as Navi. When we were evacuated, here’s what I left behind: coconut trees, fresh papaya every day, a group of women who had just committed to practicing healthy lifestyles, my best friend and dog (Navi Kiti), and an adoring, patient partner, with deep love, whom I can’t wait to reunite with. I left behind a vegetable garden that...

April 24, 2020

Full Circle

In the wake of a devastating natural disaster, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers mobilized. And the nonprofit Friends of Tonga was formed. By Michael Hassett and Chiara Collette   On February 11, 2018, Cyclone Gita, with winds that topped 233 km/h — category 4 hurricane strength — slammed into the Pacific island nation of Tonga. It was the worst storm in over 60 years and wrought horrendous damage on the islands of Tongatapu and ‘Eua, resulting in two deaths and numerous injuries. More than 2,000 homes were damaged, crops were destroyed across both islands, and 80 percent of the Tongan population was...

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