Volunteering in Fijian Paradise
Fiji is a tropical paradise of islands that are some of the most remote on Earth. Fiji is also a country with tremendous need. GLA volunteers in Fiji will get the chance to learn about how the Pacific was settled by explorers who crossed thousands of miles of ocean by canoe. The Fijian people have a vibrant culture and students will connect with them through dance, music, cultural activities, and day to day conversation. From providing quality education to children at a local school, to learning the complexities of the environment, students will make a large impact through their service.
“After a three hour boat ride, we finally arrived at our new home for the next 2 weeks, Barefoot Island. With a view of crystal clear waters all around us, we were greeted by the GLA island staff standing on the shores of Manta Ray beach. We spent the afternoon settling in and snorkeling above vibrant coral reefs and schools of tropical fish. However, today the real festivities began with a scavenger hunt to help us get acquainted with the island.”
One of the largest challenges that teachers in Fiji face is providing quality education for all children. There are many factors that contribute to this challenge including geographical distribution of the population, insufficient housing for teachers, and lack of water and electricity. GLA volunteers will become a friend a role model to children and students, improving their learning environment in school.
“We took charge in the classrooms, feeding off the energy of the Fijian students. By the end of the day, our team was able to accept cultural differences between American and Fijian high school students. Our group also made the challenge of working with younger, non-English speaking children fun and educational.” -Michaela O’Connor and Lizzie Wilson
“Eddie’s group continued to build their new found friendships with the high school students. Lots of new perspectives gained and lessons learned from their experiences and captured in their journals. These friendships will continue as we visit Yasawa High School throughout our service days with opportunities to join in games and social activities. Sewei and Sarah in particular were barely seen through the day spending all their time with their year group and choosing to spend break times with them too. Truly positive cultural exchanges.”
Community members in Fiji welcome students into their lives with open arms. Help community members cultivate fruits and vegetables, fish for your dinner, and discover the many uses for coconuts. Make an attempt at weaving hats, mats, baskets, and bags! Listen and watch ancient stories and legends unfold through traditional dance. Village leaders will converse with students and discuss the issues facing their community and how they can affect change for future generations.
“After being greeted by a warm welcome, the families taught us how to cook, clean, and live the day in the life of a Fijian. We learned how to weave bracelets, cook cassava, and herd chickens. The experience was eye opening and life changing.”
Each day in Fiji is filled with adventure! Glide by boat over blue waters, snorkle over coral reefs, rappel down a cliff over the Pacific Ocean, hike to remote mud pools, and gaze at more stars than you have ever seen at once. The beauty of this country will keep the adventure meter on high!
“Ash’s group spent the day educating themselves on threats to the reef, such as Crown of Thornes, then went on a snorkeling expedition to spot and remove these creatures which cause damage to coral in the reef when overpopulated.” –Sarah Shutt and Lexi Stravato
“We spent the afternoon at Mermaid Beach swimming, playing some rugby, snorkeling, and tanning. For dinner, we collaborated with the local staff members to cook traditional Fijian food called lovo. Lovo is made by cooking vegetables, starch, and meats in an underground oven. We also learned how to weave our own dinner plates and baskets out of leaves as well as how to break open coconuts and harvest the meat out from the insides.” –Anna and Casey
If volunteering in paradise alongside some of the most unique animals and plants on Earth sounds like something you would like, Fiji is for you! The contrast between incredible service work and the exotic sites of Fiji will give students a unique opportunity to learn about island culture from the local community while giving back to the same people they are learning from. The time spent at the schools and in the village makes for a meaningful volunteer abroad program.
Want to learn more about the Fiji Empowering Island Communities experience? Check out the program guide and put yourself in the shoes of our volunteers in island paradise.
Curious about what you’d have to pack? Rain boots or sunscreen? Jackets or shorts? Read The Young Leader’s take on the ultimate packing list and get ready for your future travels.