This time last year, I was just leaving the Cook Islands after a three week volunteer stint, assessing English language reading skills among 8th graders in the Arorangi community on the western side of Rarotonga, the capital island. Facebook reminded me of this earlier this week by providing a flashback photo of me and my co-teacher Bill in front of Arorangi School waiting for the island bus we boarded at the end of each teaching day to return us to our family-run motel accommodation half way round the island. In fact, we relied on the island bus to take us anywhere and everywhere we wanted to go. Since the entire island is only 32 kilometers around, it was easy to access all the attractions via public transportation. Bill was a return volunteer. In fact, he had worked at the Arorangi school during all his previous visits to the Islands, a total of six I believe, and so was well loved by the students and highly respected by the principal and teachers. He prepared the school for the national maths competition which took place in the capital village, Avarua, during our stay. It was great fun to watch as the 4-girl team in the 6th grade class grew in confidence and self-esteem under his tutelage. They won the national award for their grade level, the only team from Arorangi to achieve that distinction! We all cheered their victory from the stands in the national auditorium. As a first timer, it was great to have Bill and another returned volunteer, Mary, in our group. They were invaluable resources for getting the most out of our experiences, both working and playing. Mary managed to arrange for two of us to accompany her to Aitutake, the resort island an hour's flight from Rarotonga for a fabuloJus day trip. She had missed the opportunity during her previous Cook Islands service by signing up too late to get a space on the small inter-island flight. We benefited from her savvy by signing up early to join her on the outing. Our group leader, James, was very approachable and professional, but a bit distracted since he also has a full-time job running the island's only brewery. At times, we had to remind him that he needed to schedule activities that had been promised to us, like the island night at the Edgewater Resort which nearly got forgotten about until we reminded him during our final week together. I was particularly inconvenienced by his tendency towards distraction. Since I was heading to Asia at the conclusion of my service in Rarotonga, due to the limited flights out of RAR I had to leave 24 hours earlier than the others returning to the U.S. James agreed to pick me up right after school on our final teaching day to take me to the airport, and directed me to leave all my luggage, including hand-carry in the company van so that we could go straight to the airport for my 4PM flight. In the event, he totally forgot to collect me, and I ended up getting a ride to the airport with the Principal who desperately tried to contact James by cell phone to no avail. Fortunately, I had both my passport and my wallet on me, so I went on my merry way sans luggage, leaving James to sort out how to get it to me. With the help of Air New Zealand, he did eventually get it to me about a week later, apologizing profusely. But on balance, my experience was uniformly positive and the people I met both among the locals and my fellow volunteers could not have been more supportive, friendly, and helpful. Having lived in Hawaii for many years, I was glad to see that the aloha spirit is alive and well in this part of Polynesia.