Training in Tonga
From Peace Corps Wiki
To help you adjust to living in Tonga and adapt the technical skills you already have to the local situation, pre-service training is conducted in-country. Throughout training, you will stay with one or more host families.
Pre-service training (PST) ensures a thorough understanding of project goals and objectives, the development or fine-tuning of skills and attitudes needed to accomplish your project’s goals and objectives, exposure to experiences that will help you adapt to the new cultural setting, basic competence in the Tongan language, and basic knowledge of health and safety guidelines and strategies. Your counterpart or supervisor may take part in some training sessions during or shortly after pre-service training.
Training takes place partly at a training center in the capital city and partly in communities similar to those in which you will work as a Volunteer. Training incorporates both group activities in a classroom setting and work with a smaller group of four or five trainees directly in the communities. During community-based training, you will be immersed in the daily activities and events of the community, which will expose you to circumstances similar to those you will encounter as a Volunteer. Training is designed to give you hands-on practice at doing many of the same things you will do as a Volunteer.
Training includes requirements for reporting on the progress of your work to both your host agency and the Peace Corps. There will be numerous opportunities for feedback and evaluation to monitor your progress in meeting training objectives. Training is also a time for sharing, reflection, and processing your experiences with the other trainees in your group. The five major components of training are described briefly below.
Technical training will prepare you to work in Tonga by building on the skills you already have and helping you develop new skills in a manner appropriate to the needs of the country. Training places great emphasis on learning how to transfer the skills you have to the community in which you will serve as a Volunteer.
Technical training will include sessions on the general economic and political environment in Tonga and strategies for working within such a framework. You will be supported and evaluated throughout the training to build the confidence and skills you need to undertake your project activities and be a productive member of your community.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will find that language skills are the key to personal and professional satisfaction during your service. These skills are critical to your job performance, they help you integrate into your community, and they can ease your personal adaptation to the new surroundings. Therefore, language training is the heart of the training program, and you must successfully meet minimum language requirements to complete training and become a Volunteer. Tongan language instructors teach formal language classes five days a week to small groups of four to five people.
Your language training will incorporate a community-based approach. In addition to classroom time, you will be given assignments to work on outside of the classroom and with your host family. The goal is to get you to a point of basic social communication skills so that you can practice and develop language skills further on your own. Prior to being sworn in as a Volunteer, you will work on strategies to continue language studies during your two years of service.
An excellent resource to become familiar with the Tongan language is Eric Shumway’s Intensive Course in Tongan:
With Numerous Supplementary Materials, Grammatical Notes, and Glossary. See the chapter “Resources for Further Information” for publication details. Trainees must attain a certain level of language proficiency before they are sworn-in as Volunteers.
The experience of living with a Tongan host family during pre-service training is designed to ease your transition to life at your site. Families have gone through an orientation conducted by Peace Corps staff to explain the purpose of pre-service training and to assist them in helping you adapt to living in Tonga. Many Volunteers form strong and lasting bonds with their host families.
Cross-cultural and community development training will help you improve your communication skills and understand your role as a facilitator of development. You will be exposed to topics such as community mobilization, conflict resolution, gender and development, nonformal and adult education strategies, and political structures. Peace Corps heavily stresses the importance of dress code and culturally appropriate behavior in Tongan culture. Your decisions in this regard will have a profound impact on your ability to serve as a good representative of the Peace Corps and of the United States in Tonga.
During pre-service training, you will be given basic medical training and country-specific medical information. You will be expected to practice preventive healthcare and to take responsibility for your own health by adhering to all medical policies. Trainees are required to attend all medical sessions.
The topics include preventive health measures as well as minor and major medical issues that you might encounter while in Tonga. Nutrition, mental health, safety and security, setting up a safe living compound, and how to avoid HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are also covered.
During the safety training sessions, you will learn how to adopt a lifestyle that reduces your risks at home, at work, and during your travels. You will also learn appropriate, effective strategies for coping with unwanted attention and about your individual responsibility for promoting safety throughout your service. It is important to take the safety training seriously for it is key to all the related activities in which you will participate as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Additional Trainings During Volunteer Service
In its commitment to institutionalize quality training, the Peace Corps has implemented a training system that provides Volunteers with opportunities to increase their technical, language, and cross-cultural skills. During your service, there are several training events. The titles and objectives for those trainings are as follows:
- In-service training (IST): Assists Volunteers in reviewing their experiences, reassessing their personal and project objectives, identifying and developing needed skills, and planning for the rest of their service.
- Expanded language program: Provides continuing language support to Volunteers in the field during their first year of service.
- Mid-service training (MST): Provides an opportunity for Volunteers to upgrade their technical, language, and project design and management skills.
- Close-of-service conference (COS): Prepares Volunteers for the future after Peace Corps service and reviews their respective projects and personal experiences.
The number, length, and design of these trainings are adapted to country-specific needs and conditions. The key to the training system is that training events are integrated and interrelated, from the pre-departure orientation through the end of your service, and are planned, implemented, and evaluated cooperatively by the training staff, Peace Corps staff, and Volunteers.