University of Hawaii recently ranked No. 14 among medium-sized schools on Peace Corps’ 2017 Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list. A UH Manoa alumna shares how University of Hawaii helped prepare her for her service.
University of Hawaiʻi Grad Shares Aloha Spirit with Tongans
M A R C H 3, 2017 / P E A C E C O R P S W E S T
Being exposed to different cultures at UH Mānoa helped returned Peace Corps Volunteer Ronne Partoriza feel at
home in Tonga, her country of service.
Raised in Hawaiʻi, Ronne Partoriza felt a strong connection with the culture of Tonga,
where she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 2013 to 2014.
“I had the opportunity to explain to my Tongan friends and family their culture’s similarities
with Hawaiʻi with regard to food, language, humor, dance, hospitality, and more,” Partoriza said.
Partoriza also leveraged her multicultural experience at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UH), her alma mater, to make her Peace Corps service a success. UH recently ranked No. 14 among medium-sized schools on Peace Corps’ 2017 Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list.
“UH and Hawaiʻi in general are some of the best places to prepare you for Peace Corps,” Partoriza said. “Hawaiʻi’s mixed culture gave me such an advantage when I served overseas. Being bilingual or multilingual in Hawaiʻi is common, and having been exposed to cultural differences helped me assimilate in my local community more quickly.”
Volunteer Ronne Partoriza taught English to elementary school students in Tonga.
A 2007 graduate of UH with a B.A. in English, Partoriza served as an education Volunteer. She taught English to elementary school students and trained teachers in student-centered education.
“I made long-lasting relationships and memories with my students, community, host families,
and other Volunteers,” recalled Partoriza. “There were many firsts with my school. I was the first
Peace Corps teacher in my school and village. We built the first library in my school.”
Partoriza was also the first Peace Corps Volunteer of Filipino descent in her Tongan community.
“I count all these ‘firsts,’ and sharing of my background and upbringing, as small successes. I also showed the people in my village that not all Americans have blonde hair and blue eyes,” Partoriza said.
The prospect of more UH students serving abroad excites Partoriza.
“If you have the chance to serve, do it! It will change you immensely,” Partoriza said. “You will gain unforgettable experiences, stories, friends, and family. I gained a lot more than I ever gave.”