Tonga sits among the islands in a South Pacific archipelago, a flight away from Fiji, Tuvalu, and other islands increasingly submerged by sea rise. On the island of Tonga, however, environmental challenges and joblessness were the most challenging threats when Full-Circle Learning arrived. The people met these challenges with music and sharing. If mango trees and baked taro root were plentiful at one house, everyone would eat.
Ocean of Light School hosted a weeklong Full-Circle Learning workshop for teachers. Some of the teachers discovered their own nobility at the workshop. A math teacher who wondered how to introduce integrated learning had an epiphany during his group’s project design experiment. The students would conduct an environmental advocacy project, including an installation at the public exhibit space for the environment, where tourists and local officials both spent time. While the science teacher, the music and writing teachers would all have a role, he would teach geometry to help the learners build cubes on which the installation pieces would sit. A light came on in his eyes when he saw the value of teacher collaboration for math teachers.
Watching the dances of the teachers and students later inspired aFull-Circle Learning song about shrinking islands, which was performed at schools in North America to raise awareness of climate change issues.