Master of Arts degree with a major in English, emphasis Peace Corps Service with TEFL
Committee Chair Name
Dr. Suzanne Scott
Committee Chair Affiliation
HSU Faculty or Staff
Second Committee Member Name
Dr. Michael Eldridge
Second Committee Member Affiliation
HSU Faculty or Staff
For three years I had the privilege of living and serving in the Kingdom of Tonga, a group of islands in the South Pacific, as a Master’s International Program student and Peace Corps volunteer. In Tonga, I worked as an English Literacy Facilitator, partnering with counterparts on diverse projects to improve English language and literacy instruction in local schools.
In the most recent revision of its national curriculum, one of the sustainable development goals of the Tongan Ministry of Education is for teachers to learn strategies for the effective use of libraries, books, and technological resources in their teaching. To assist with this goal, for my first two years of service, I was asked to develop a central library and library practices for the primary school where I was posted, as well as teaching or co-teaching supplemental lessons using library resources for students in grades 3 through 8. In my third year, I served in a book publishing company, the Waka Publications Programme at the University of the South Pacific, as editor, researcher and author of English texts for Tongan students. My work at Waka was also tailored to meet the Ministry of Education’s goal, as I would be helping to develop contextualized and effective resources that would be easily accessible for Tongan teachers’ use.
In the “Introduction” of this M.A. Project, I briefly review prior experiences which prepared me for my service. In “Pre-service Coursework and Training,” I discuss my coursework in the first year of the Master’s International Program (MIP) at Humboldt State University (HSU) and my first two months of Peace Corps training upon arrival in Tonga. In the first section of “Primary and Middle School Service,” I portray the context in which I lived and worked during my first two years of service. In the second section of this chapter, I detail my work in developing a library, and the challenges and successes of this project. In “Waka Projects and Peace Corps Committee Work,” I shift to my third year of service, and give an overview of the literacy-related projects I worked on with Waka Publications and with Peace Corps Tonga. In the “Conclusion,” I examine my own development over three years of service in Tonga and reflect on what the experience taught me.
Over these three years, I learned about the overarching emphasis in Tongan culture on cultivating relationships. At the primary and middle school, I found that my efforts towards sustainable work in literacy development were more successful as I dedicated more time to building friendships with my counterparts. At Waka, the importance of relationships was highlighted through effective projects done in partnerships with local people. These experiences taught me that sustainable literacy development in Tonga must be built on a foundation which honors the Tongan values of humility, kindness, respect, and generosity.
Wise, Melissa, "Serving in the kingdom: a volunteer experience in the development of efl literacy in Tonga" (2019). Cal Poly Humboldt theses and projects. 281.