Blair Gilbert is the daughter of Ken and Peggy. I worked with Ken for more than 20 years at American Airlines. You couldn’t find a more solid, go-to guy, and a true world citizen, so it’s not surprising that after graduating from Georgetown, Blair joined the Peace Corps, and was dispatched to a remote island in the Kingdom of Tonga. Peggy and Ken visited in summer 2010, and returned with a fascinating account.
Blair returned for two weeks’ Christmas leave, and on January 6, Peggy and Ken hosted a small party. I was lucky enough to get an invitation, a chance to listen to Blair offer some glimpses of life in what is still a largely traditional South Pacific society. Sure, they watch New Zealand rugby on TV, and worship the same Jesus that I do, but their island is still remarkably like it has long been. Her Tongan students (she teaches English), their parents, and her neighbors inhabit the same planet that we do, but the differences are vast. Blair’s accounts were a wonderful reminder of the enormous diversity on Earth.
Toward the end of the evening, I toasted Blair, offering our thanks and observing that she and her fellow Peace Corps volunteers do more for U.S. interests abroad than nearly everyone in Washington, DC.
If you’re curious, Blair keeps a educational and hugely entertaining blog at http://talesfromtonga.blogspot.com/.