Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Ni Sa Bula Vinaka!!
We hope that life is treating you well and that you continue to share what you learned from your GLA Fiji trip. As we reflect on our summer in Fiji we have fond memories of each session and are overwhelmed with satisfaction at all that we were able to accomplish because of your efforts. A total of nine water tanks were installed in both Gunu and the neighboring village of Nasoqo. Fortunately for the villagers it rained seven days and we were able to see the tanks fill with water, some to the point of overflowing! What a huge blessing to see the village supplied with over 70,000 liters of drinkable rainwater! At the conclusion of session three we were able to witness the official declaration of the Marine Protected Area at Gunu which the villagers agreed to extend for the next five years! The area was marked with buoys so all who enter that bay will know not to fish there. A grand total of 7,164 mangroves were planted throughout all three sessions. So far the mangroves we planted have thrived at a survival rate of 85%. We were able to provide invaluable one-on-one support for students at Guanavou Primary School and we saw improvement as the students practiced spelling, reading, speaking, and writing in English.
It was a memorable summer, that’s for sure. How could we forget Elias climbing the rafters like a sloth, Maddy’s swollen and sun burned face, that night snorkel, or Jerry’s monumental dive off the pontoon? Let’s be real, how could we forget Jerry at all? (are you Instagram famous yet?) B made sure we stayed gnarly with some sick beats while Emma sent warm fuzzies to all us girlies. Carsun had to cover his eyes during our Nicholas Sparks movie nights and Benjie had lots of ‘jar’ moments. We found out that Kristina was a great teacher and Mariah inspired a chalkboard mural. Molly had several epiphanies and Madison tried to teach us how to throw a rugby ball. Mark surprised us all by singing Imagine at the talent show while Lance and Zev committed themselves to talking like Old Greg. We had some back-stabbing assassins and some (not so) peaceful yoga sessions. We endured the rain with positivity, coloring, reading, music, and Pictionary. You conquered some challenging hikes, mixed cement like animals, and made friends that will last a lifetime. We swam with manta rays (well some of us did) and played countless games with the children of Gunu. You learned how to weave, make jewelry, speak in Fijian, and sing the Isa Lei. John safely delivered us from the most intense boat ride of the summer, Gabby begged us to “Shut up!”, Tema shared her passion for teaching, and Jim showed us incredible patience.
You have taught us all such important lessons and we are grateful that you chose to give three weeks of your summer to GLA Fiji. You made a difference and we hope you took home important life lessons.
All the best!
Amber and the GLA Fiji Team
Summer Blog Posts
July 31, 2016
Bula from Fiji!
We are so pumped for an awesome session 3 in the beautiful Fiji Islands!
All students are here and eager to jump right in. We had a relaxing day with a few ice breakers and team building games. Later in the day we walked down to Wailoaloa beach for some more fun activities, including ultimate frisbee and a beach walk. Everyone is in high spirits, but incredibly tired from a long day of travel. We are so excited to see what the next 20 days have in store for us!
After getting a much needed rest last night, we woke up and had breakfast to start off our second day in Fiji. After breakfast, Gabby talked to us about Fijian cultures and customs, and we set rules that we will follow as a group for the next 3 weeks. Then we left the hotel and headed to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, we were given a tour around the garden and then went on a short hike. The final part of the hike was very steep and challenging but the view of Nadi from the top was worth the effort. After our hike we drank juice in the garden and then went to the Mudbaths. We got our mud on and played relay games, then we went into the hot spring to wash off. Today was an all around amazing day in Fiji, and we can’t wait to get to Naviti on Wednesday and start our service projects!
Day 2 in Fiji:
The day started off with everyone getting up and eating breakfast at around 8:00 am. Shortly thereafter Gabby gave the us a presentation on the Indo-Fijian people at 9:00 am. Next we set off in the bus to go to an Indian Church. At the church, our host greeted us and told us what we would be doing. The plan was to make coconut chutney, vegetable curry, rice, and roti. The process took about two hours, but it was all worth it! “It is the best food that has had the privilege to touch my lips!”-Zev Everyone loved the food and everyone devoured their plates. Pravine then gave us a tour of the garden where he grows the food that we ate. Afterwards we went into town.
We arrived at a store called Jack’s, so that we could exchange our bigger bills for smaller ones. Later, we walked to the handicraft market and we all purchased some souvenirs. Some people at the handicraft market were able to haggle prices, and others we not so lucky. Anyway, everyone still walked away happy. Shortly after the last purchase, we split into two groups. One group went to an Hindi temple and another group walked on the Main Street into different shops. Once it was 4:00 pm everyone had to meet up back at Jack’s so that we could get ready to head back to the hotel. Once we got back most people decided to go in the pool and swim until it was time for dinner, and dinner was delicious. We had chicken, lasagna, salad, sausage, and bread. After dinner we met with our mentors and talked about leadership. Finally we had free time and then we went to bed at 10:00 pm.
August 3, 2016
Today was so cool. We woke up at about 6:30 and then had breakfast. After that everyone brought their luggage down to the bus that would be taking us to the boat, which would take us to the new island we’d be staying at. Though the boat ride was very long (almost four hours), we saw so many cool things. We saw about twenty or so islands on the way and the water is legitimately crystal clear. Once we got to our island, we were greeted with flower necklaces and shown our rooms. Then we had our swim test and snorkeled for a bit. Also, we got to jump off a platform in the water that was about fifteen feet high, which was super exciting.
After that everyone kind of lounged around for a bit, from reading books in hammocks to tanning on the beach to learning how to play rugby.
At about 5, we went for a hike to the top of the mountain on our island. Though the hike was long and very steep, the view was worth it. It was breathtaking, literally. We stayed until the sun went down and got ready for dinner. The food was amazing and after dinner we had the supervisors from the work we’d be helping with give a little explanation about what we would be helping with. First there was Miss Tema, who talked about cultural norms and explained what we would help with in the schools. Then there was Jim, who talked about how we would be helping the schools and village by building water barrels that will hold about 10,000 liters each. Lastly there was Gaby, who heads the marine group and talked about how we would be helping clean up the corals and reefs. Overall, it was a really educational and exciting day.
August 4, 2016
Today we traveled to the local village in order to complete our first day of service. They performed a traditional kava ceremony in order to welcome us into the village.The sustainability team worked to get ingredients for cement and leveled out ground. The education team read with kids grades 3-7 and then completed a spelling test. The marine team surveyed the reef at the village and local area. Then we had free time to snorkel, hike, do yoga and take in the sunset. Then after dinner we went on a walk to stargaze and look for bio-luminescent animals in the ocean.
Hello Parents! And Bula from Fiji!
Today was an absolutely incredible day. We woke up to the sound of the waves and some adventurous kids even got up for a sunrise hike! After breakfast we embarked on our journey over to the village. The boat ride is always fun, especially for the people in the front of the boat who never know when they’re going to get a little wet. Once we got there we broke off into our education, marine, and sustainability groups. Today the education group worked with the grades 3,4, and 7; the marine group picked up trash on the beach; and sustainability started to make the base for the water tank. It was a successful work day (not to mention a delicious lunch made for us by the women of the village).
Back at our home base we all broke off into different groups. Some went on a sunset hike to see the 360 degree view of the island, some snorkeled out to the dock to watch sunset on the water, and some did yoga on the beach during sunset. After our activities we all came together for a friendly game of capture the flag. If you’ve never played at night, you’ve missed out. We came up with battle strategies and ran our hearts out. It was a very close game. After the game we all retreated back to our bunks, but came together one last time to reflect on our day and watch the stars together (which are out of this world, literally shooting star after shooting star).
Vaka nui nui vinaka
(We wish you all the best)
Emma and Your adventurous Fijian kids!
8/6 – New Photos!
August 6, 2016
First weekend on the island and we finally got to sleep in past 6:30. It was an easy morning with the usual breakfast and a dream-like view of the beach. At 9:30 the team split up into two groups; group one headed off to snorkel with the manta rays, and group two embarked on a hike up and over a mountain to our boat-captain’s village.
The manta ray team got lucky and saw two manta rays, a turtle, and various fish. However their fortune turned when they faced an army of sea lice. For those of you who aren’t familiar with these pests, our mentor Amber says, “Sea lice are terrible vengeful creatures that sting any intruder that comes into their general vicinity and I hate them.” (Just a mild sting, but quite annoying) The group still decided their adventure was a success.
Group number two struggled up a mountain “trail” but was rewarded with a beautiful view and curry and roti provided by our resort. Then they continued down the opposite side with only a few slips, tumbles, and bumps. Once again, their efforts were justified with beach games and Fijian rhythm with the local villagers.
When the groups reunited they enjoyed some tea time and then split off to do different activities. Some played king of the hill on the pontoon, some snorkeled because they hadn’t had enough, and some chilled in hammocks on the beach. There was a 6:00 yoga session that was “a perfect way to end our already perfect day,” (Molly Robert).
After a delicious fishy dinner we watched The Lucky One projected on a bed sheet while half protected from the rain until we were all too tired to go on.
August 7, 2016
Today was a rainy day in Fiji. Although it might sound drab, much needed rest was put in our sleep banks. We started the day off late and did a number of relaxed activities throughout the day. We split up into two groups and one group created jewelry while the other attended a Fijian Language crash course. Then I’m not really sure what everyone else did because I went to sleep. Then after lunch we had a Fijian music class in which we utilized peoples’ ukuleles and empty water jugs for drums. We were taught a song which Fijians sing to people when they leave(if your reading this mom and dad I’ll sing it to you when I leave for college and no other time?). We ended the day off by watching a Nicholas Sparks movie about soldiers with PTSD.
-Zev Lee – also leader of the day
August 8, 2016
Another rainy day in Fiji! Although we’ve all been enjoying some time to just chill and catch up on some rest, we still managed to contribute to each of our projects. Education created illustrated flash cards and worksheets for the children to improve their language skills, while marine continues to plant coral cookies (with some extra helpers). The rest of the day was spent playing games like pictionary, contact (which has become a favorite), hiking, swimming, and handing out while getting to know each other. The weather may not be what we were hoping for, but our spirits are high!
August 9, 2016
Today was another rainy day so we didn’t go to Gunu. After breakfast we did some leadership training and played a couple of team building games with our groups. Then we ate lunch and we started playing this game called word assassin. After some free time filled with reading, bracelet making, and conversation we had tea time. A few brave people even went swimming in the rain. Then we ate dinner. By the end of the day two people were (word) assassinated . Zev and I.
August 10, 2016
Today it finally stopped raining and we made it back to our service site in the village after three days! At breakfast our game of assassin continued with a lot of deception. We switched service groups today, so everyone was working on something new. We also got an amazing opportunity to play for awhile with the kids in Gunu and continue to strengthen our relationships within the village. The first water tank project is complete and more mangroves have been planted! After getting back from service some went snorkeling while others watched the sunset or played sand volleyball. After mentor groups and dinner, Clint lead a group activity focusing on our intention of the day: open mindedness.
August 11, 2016
The second sunny day after a long raining weekend! Everyone started working. Education taught kids in the village about how to read and write in English. Sustainability built the base of the water tank, that includes carrying materials and mixing concrete. Marine cleared an invasive species (Crown of thorns starfish) from the coral, and planted more coral. Everybody was excited because we got our clean laundry back from the village. The rest of the day we played volleyball, swam and played some games. Today is a very exciting day, hope the weather continues to be sunny and that we all keep up the good work.
We woke up to another beautiful morning in Fiji today. After everyone finished breakfast, we took the boat to the village to do service. The marine group spent the morning uprooting mangrove saplings and replanting them along a riverbank; in the afternoon we dug a hole for waste as a temporary solution for the village’s waste management situation. The sustainability group finished building a water tank and gathered materials for the next water tank platform. The education group continued their literacy work with schoolchildren and spent most of the day reading to them and enriching their English skills.
During free time, we split up to pursue various activities such as sunset kayaking, yoga and beach volleyball.
After dinner, we watched videos on the protection of mangroves. We also watched the documentary Sharkwater.
Fiji won their first Olympic gold medal! Go Fiji rugby!!
As for us it was a wonderful day. The two weekend groups participated in some exciting activities. Group 1 struggled through a tough but rewarding hike ending in the village of Kese. Group 2 unfortunately did not get to see any manta rays, however they were excited to explore a new reef and saw two reef sharks, an eel, sea cucumbers, and various other sea creatures.
After lunch the hiking group took a boat back to the resort while group 2 learned how to weave using plants. After tea time everyone participated in a sand structure contest using only objects found in nature. Afterwards some people played volleyball or swam to the pontoon to enjoy the sunset. We can’t believe that our time here has gone so fast.
-Fiji GLA team (group effort)
August 13 Photos
After a calm and sunny breakfast, we all headed back out to snorkel with the manta rays. For some of us it was our first time seeing them, and we got to swim right up next to them! After our delicious lunch of fish and salad everybody relaxed before we split into groups to learn basket weaving and coconut jewelry making. Later on we had a volleyball tournament and after dinner, kayaked out to the pontoon for night snorkeling with glow sticks and stargazing. The bio-luminescence under water was like magic and we had a dance party under the moon before swimming and paddling our way back to a beach bonfire.
his morning was a little bit unpredictable because it started off very overcast and threatening rain. We decided to go to our respectable service projects any way so we could save the world. My group (marine) stayed at base and played paticake until our hands ached then proceeded to plant coral cookies. Sustainability made water tank platforms and education taught all the yungins even though they were on winter break. It was one of my favorite days out of the whole trip and I hope this blog makes you as happy as today did.
This morning was rainy and cold, but we carried on to Gunu/Nosoqo for service. The marine group collected and planted 614 mangrove roots that will help to protect the oceanic ecosystem. The education team worked on spelling and flash cards with kids of all ages while the sustainability group finished GLA’s ninth and final water tank project and worked to finish up on a previous group’s assignment.
After returning to home base, everyone split up to relax or play volleyball before mentor groups. During mentor groups we rehearsed our acts for our upcoming talent show, and had a game of random trivia during dinner. Later on, Amber had us all lay down outside to participate in an appreciation circle where everyone closes their eyes, and selected ‘appreciators’ get up to tap the people they admire specific given qualities in. Smiling and thankful, we all headed off to bed after a successful and cheerful day.
Warm fuzzies all around,
Today was a great day. We had the best boat ride of the entire trip. A rain storm had kicked up since Fiji is transitioning into the wet season.
Today was also the last day of service. Those of us working in Sustainability with Jim had a swell time mixing and pouring cement in the rain, Education taught and played with the local children, and Marine Environments crafted buoys to mark marine protected zones. It was a great day and we had lots of fun.
Nisah Yandra!! Good morning Fiji!!We have been in Fiji for 18 days and today we were having a farewell ceremony held by the Gunu villagers after 8 days of service there.
Once we arrived,we put our bags at the ceremony venue and were responsible for the preparation of the ceremony. Some of the girls were assigned to cut vegetables, some of them needed to decorate the ceremony venue. For boys,we needed to peel some garlic and ginger to help season the chicken. Some of us went to take the banana leaves,some were mixing the spices with the chicken. Then the villagers put the chickens into hand-made baskets and placed them under the ground with tarps and sand on top of it. In this way,the chicken would taste more yummy. After the work we rested at the venue with some kids around and waited for the ceremony to start. After a while people gathered,everyone was dressed up. While we sat around the venue the chief of the village gave us a speech and we prayed. Though we don’t understand the Fijians,we feel. Then we had lunch with different kinds of food. It was delicious,especially the chickens. When lunch was over,there was a mini accessory market. There were bracelets,anklets,sarongs,photo frames…etc. After buying souvenirs we spent the last few hours with the kids while the chief went out to the sea and helped set the boundaries for their own marine protected area. And there’s the closing ceremony where we sat together just like we did before lunch. The representative of the village started giving us a speech,so as the chief afterwards. Although it started raining the atmosphere was very bittersweet. When the touching speeches ended we introduced ourselves in Fijian and our mentors thanked them in Fijian. The ceremony ended with the traditional Fijian farewell song sung by the villagers.
We hopped on the boat and waved at the villagers to say our goodbyes. After being in the boat along with the endless raining,we finally arrived and had our last tea time in Botaira and FREE TIME!!!
It was nearly dinner and it was still raining,but some of us still collected wood and materials for the bonfire night. Some of us were preparing for the one&only GLA Talented Show. The last dinner in Botaira was delicious. Dinner was over and it was time for the talent show!
We had 11 performances; signings, dancing, acting…etc. It was really fun. We all enjoyed it so much. After it we got a tiny dancing party as we thought the bonfire wouldn’t make it in the rainy day. However, we successfully started the fire and sat around it chatting with each other and enjoyed the last night in Botaira Island…
August 17 – New Photos
Also, see new photos from August 15th above from our sand castle competition!