I was first introduced to Civitas through my middle school gifted program. My teacher had us participate in the Civitas Model United Nations program, which I found both stimulating and engaging. Since my mother is from the island nation The Kingdom of Tonga, I opted to represent Tonga in the Model U.N. program. This would be a trend that continued as I sustained my participation in the Model U.N. program throughout my high school career.
One of the early resolutions I drafted was focused on providing clean water sources to under-resourced communities throughout the islands. The plan of action was to bring over LifeStraws, a water purification and filtration device that can provide an individual user with clean drinking water for approximately five years. Doing research and drafting this resolution opened up my juvenile mind to real issues that citizens face in Tonga, and for the first time ever, as a thirteen year old, I began to think about plausible solutions.
Fast forward 9 years. I graduated from the University of Missouri – Columbia with a degree in International Studies with an emphasis in Peace Studies and a minor in Leadership and Public Service. Following my May 2018 graduation, I went off to Tonga in August to serve as an English Literacy Facilitator with the United States Peace Corps. It was decided by the Peace Corps that I would serve on the outer island of ‘Eua in the most remote and under-resourced village on the island. They hadn’t sent a Peace Corps Volunteer to this village in over 10 years.
My primary assignment was working at the village’s government primary school, G.P.S. Houma. There were only 3 staff at the whole school, with a student body of approximately 47 students. Each staff person was a teacher for one of the composite classes (grades 1 and 2, grades 3 and 4, grades 5 and 6), and the grade 1 and 2 teacher also doubled as the school principal. My chief role within the school was to teach English to grades 3-6.
While working at the primary school I quickly noticed that the principal was calling half-days most days of the week. When I inquired with her why this was the case, she said it was because there was no drinking water for the children on the school compound, and that the only water available was reserved for the use of teachers and their families living on the school grounds. Given this information, I constructed a grant proposal to install rainwater tanks on the school compound. My grant proposal received many rejections from various organizations. Eventually, I was able to pitch the idea to a Rotary Club in the United States and obtain funding for the purchase and installation of rainwater tanks over two fiscal years. 2020 is the second fiscal year, and as of September the Rotary Club has already initiated the second installation of rainwater tanks in the village.
Participating in Model U.N. and other enrichment activities with Civitas has greatly influenced how I have showed up in the world in my adult life. Had I not begun thinking about global issues at age 13, I may not have completed my first global aid project by age 23. I strongly believe that having conversations with young people about the impact they can have on the world will encourage them to become active global citizens.