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    Posted November 19, 2010 by
    Nuku'alofa, Tonga
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    iReport Global Challenge

    More from ElenaN

    Roast Pig in the Kingdom of Tonga


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     ElenaN and her husband are Peace Corps volunteers in Tonga, a tiny archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. She shot these photos between October 2009 and June 2010. I asked her to describe photo #9, the image of a little boy in a yam patch:

    'During one portion of Peace Corps training, we stayed for several weeks with a Tongan family in Lotofoa, Ha'apai, and on the last day we were with them, they invited us to their yam harvest celebration,' she said. 'We arrived at their bush plot in the middle of the lush Tongan forest, and met half a dozen community members there who immediately started digging up the yams and preparing the underground oven. The sun got quite hot, and so the little grandson got put under a plant to play. He was annoyed he couldn't get underfoot and "help" the men dig, so from time to time, he would survey the fields with a wistful glare.'

    This is our first approved iReport from Tonga. Thanks, ElenaN!
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    As individuals, Tongans do many things well: we know people who are accomplished at opening a green coconut in four hacks of a machete; who hold two Doctorate degrees; who can sew an entire outfit without a pattern in less than a day; who can make a feast out of a hole, a pig, and some hot rocks; who run two successful businesses simultaneously; who create a comprehensive school curriculum out of a stack of stapled articles; who weave a palm leaf basket in ten minutes.


    But Tongans everywhere sure know how to throw a great celebration.


    Whether it's an island-wide Christmas picnic (photos 1-2), secondary school graduation (photo 3), college anniversary drawing Tongans from around the world (photos 4-5), yearly yam harvest celebration (photos 8-9), or even weekly church (photos 6-7), the average Tongan party is sure to have throngs of people, heaps of food, a huge roast pig, and some spectacular dancing.


    Most formal celebrations have a brass band (photo 4), and usually a full choir (photo 3). And any gathering wouldn't be complete without a kava circle, drawing a group of men to drink coconut halves full of the bitter drink made from a type of pepper-plant root (photo 2).


    Finally, as everyone filters out, stuffed with roast pig, yams, and other delights, each holds a plastic bag liberally crammed with leftovers to take home to share with everyone not lucky enough to have been there.


    And so the celebration spreads to everyone in town.



    To read more about our experiences in Tonga, visit mk-squared.blogspot.com

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