July 31st arrival day blog:
Bula! With an early, 5:50 AM arrival our GLA group collected itself and we headed off to our hotel at Nadi Bay. After a hearty breakfast and some socializing, we relaxed by the pool and headed to our rooms. Before lunch we had our first Chow Circle where we played a shoe swap game where half the group takes off a shoe, the other half of the group picks up a shoe, and the two people find each other and talk about where their shoes have been. Then we went to lunch before having orientation where we talked about health, code of conduct, and other important things. At Wailoaloa Beach, a 15 minute walk from our hotel, we played some more ice breaker games. One game involved being back to back with someone, turning around, and yelling their name. Before dinner we printed sulus with stencils and paint. Afterwards, we had another Chow Circle, talked about the role as leader of the day and what we are planning to do tomorrow. We had a delicious Indian curry dinner and went straight to bed!
Bula! Today in Fiji was a blast! We kicked off the morning with a nice breakfast at the Mango Cafe. After that, Gabby, a local Fijian staff member, gave us a fascinating presentation about Fijian culture and customs. We also learned how to tie our sulu’s and how to present ourselves once we are in the villages. After a fun game of poison dart frog, we enjoyed some free time hanging out by the pool and getting to know each other! Later, we hopped on the bus and headed down to the “Best Fish and Chips” restaurant overlooking the ocean. After filling up on our fish and chips, we headed over to the Sleeping Giant Gardens. We saw some beautiful flowers and enjoyed peaceful swings on the hammocks. We then endured a beautiful yet tiring hike up the mountain. But it was totally worth it at the end to see such incredible views! Once we got back down the mountain, we drove down to the thermal mud baths down the road. We coated ourselves head to toe in the mud and had a blast competing head to head in some fun games while the mud dried. We then took a dip in the mud pool and the thermal pool to cool off and relax. We all enjoyed some amazing massages and walked through the booths the women had set up selling bracelets, sulu’s, and more. Once we were done we headed back to the hotel and enjoyed some free time to relax. We met up for dinner later on and had some fantastic fried rice, fish, chicken, and fruit cocktails. We talked a lot over dinner and then finished the day with our first mentor session! Moce (pronounced mothe), bye for now!
-Written by Isabel
August 1, 2017
“Bula, This morning, we had an engaging discussion about our goals for this trip and the steps we will take to achieve them. After our meeting, we left for an Indo-Fijian community. While we were there, we prepared an authentic Indian meal, composed of pumpkin curry, potato curry, coconut chutney, and roti. In addition, we learned about the Indian migration to Fiji in the 1800s. After our afternoon in the Indo-Fijian community, we toured Nadi, a local Fijian town and experienced a diverse culture. Here, we went to a local, outdoor farmer’s market. After returning to our hotel, we participated in a student-led activity. This activity consisted of sharing our opinions and perspectives on various topics. For dinner, we had an authentic Fijian meal. We are looking forward to the next few weeks of our experience in Fiji.
August 3, 2017
Bula! Today we woke up early with our bags packed, ready to go to our new home at Botaira. After eating breakfast, we headed to the port to hop on the ferry for a three-hour boat ride to the island. On the ferry, we met some local Fijian kids and played cards. Arriving on the island we were greeted by freshly cut coconuts, a welcoming song, and smiling faces. We quickly settled in and had a delicious lunch. On the beach, Gabby then instructed us on proper snorkeling technique and we swam to the platform, where we jumped off the high dive, sunbathed, and canoed. After swimming in we got changed and participated in learning more on Fijian culture and learned about the importance of embracing cultural norms. Enjoying the sunset at dinner, we saw the infamous green flash as the sun went down. We were then introduced to our local service leaders and briefed on our tasks for tomorrow, including marine preservation and helping in the local schools. Tired from our long day, we went to bed early. – Julia and Kevin
– Julia and Kevin
August 4, 2017
Today was our first day of service in Gunu village. The hour long boat ride around the island gave us a chance to admire the surrounding islands and crystal clear water. When we arrived on the beach, we walked through the village to arrive at the main hall where we observed the kava ceremony to welcome us into the village. From there, we went to see the school, where the children were celebrating the end of “Preschool week.” We got to experience some lively performances by the local students, as well as a Fijian guest speaker. After the celebration and lunch, my group began our work with the children. we each met with two different students for 25 minutes each. It was challenging to try to make them comfortable with us and help them learn in such a short amount of time, but especially rewarding when they spelled a word correctly on the first try or came up with their own sentences to write. We are all excited to continue working with them!
Hey Jane, it’s Lulu- this blog post is for you, and by the way, I’m not dead!
Today we pulled out mangroves from the ground and replanted them in a less populated mangrove area. It wasn’t muddy like sam said it was because there wasn’t even mud. It was a good time since it wasn’t a lot of work and during lunch, we got lots of food. The locals in the village cooked us casava and plantains. We ended up planting 468 mangroves and I got really attached to one of them, so I took a selfie with it. Afterward, we met a really cute dog named Bruno! He had tan fur and black around his snout. Back on the island we went snorkeling and tanned on the dock. Some of us missed tea time because we were too lazy to swim back. There was an unexpected fire show during sunset and some students held the fire stick! For dinner, we had a barbecue out on the beach. I was supposed to write the blog after dinner but I was so tired I went to bed, so I’m sorry for the delay my friends but it’s here now… I love you all and be sure to subscribe to my channel
-By Lulu and Leila
August 5, 2017
This morning, like almost every morning here in Fiji, the group ate breakfast altogether to the sound of waves. When we finished our “pancakes” and scrambled eggs, we split off to get ready for the day that our designated activity groups had ahead of us. Group 1 sat down with Tema for a Fijian language lesson. The six of us learned key phrases and concepts of the official Fijian language until lunch at noon. The staff, and also our friends, prepared a mound of white rice and a beef stir fry for us. The afternoon was relaxed as we played in the sea and lounged in hammocks. We set out around 3:30 for the channel which a short boat ride away. We arrived and hopped into the water with our snorkeling gear to be greeted by massive manta ray beneath us! We all described the experience as one of the, if not THE coolest thing we’ve ever seen.
After group one left for there Fijian language lesson group two left to hike to Noah’s village (a local staff member). We raced to the top of a big lookout and then sang songs on the way down. It took us about two hours, faster than any other groups! Once we were in the village we met some of Noah’s family then had lunch. We took the boat back base where the ocean welcomed us for a
nice swim to cool off.
Talk about a great way to spend a Saturday!
August 6, 2017
Fiji blog: Day two of service work! Today we went back to village of Gunu to continue our service work. The marine group went into the village to survey which houses had the proper water filter systems and waste management. We then built filter systems for the houses without them, using limestone and plastic containers. Then in the afternoon we went snorkelling, looking for trash in the coral. We didn’t find any, so we made our way back onto the boat. In the education group, we walked to the village next door to Gunu and spend the day with the preschoolers there. In the morning we sat down with them and played lots of learning games and colored a lot. We practiced our alphabet, numbers, colors, and animals. We also read lots of books in pairs and as a group. The kids were so smart and knew so much! We then had our lunch break and the women in the village made us some awesome food, lots of rice, noodles, plantains, cassava, and more. After lunch we met back with the preschoolers and some more came to join as well. We all sat in a circle and passed a ball around to practice letters, numbers, colours, and animals. We then learned some Fijian songs and dances, and also practiced some in English too. Before leaving we went outside with the kids and played around in the grass. We gave them rides on our shoulders and swung them in circles. We got lots of hugs and then were on our way back to home base! On our way back to the islands the seas were quite rough as the wind picked up. But we didn’t even notice cause everyone was singing songs as loud as we could the whole ride back. It was so fun! When we got back we set right out for the sunset hike. We hiked up along a beautiful path watching the sun as it set over the horizon. When we got to the top we admired the beautiful view then made our way back down.
Fiji blog: Bula! Colin here. Today was another service day and I was part of the marine group. Unfortunately, the winds picked up today and we did not have the adequate technology to be able to traverse the obstacles of the great Pacific’s rough waters. Instead, the marine group decided to do all their work in the reef right outside of Botaira. For the first half of the day, we delved into some fish identification. We were each given a fish to look at for before we braved the cold waters. During our swim, we each tallied the amount of our assigned species of fish we saw. Getting out of the water was a challenge due to the heavy winds, making it very cold. After lunch, we once again jumped back in, but this time we were looking for an invasive species of starfish: The Crown-of-Thorns Starfish. This species is extremely harmful to the coral and is able to destroy two hectares of coral every day. We were able to find, collect, and bury nine of these dangerous creatures before retiring for the day. The education group began the day in the dining area overlooking the ocean. There, we worked with Ms. Tema to create lesson plans and activities for the next education group to use. We tried to make games that would be engaging, but that would also help the kids in areas that they struggle in, like creating sentences and being descriptive. Many of us made activities that involved matching words to create sentences or games that challenged them to remember certain English words. After our work, we got a chance to enjoy the sun and the sea. Later in the afternoon, when the marine group returned from their service, we participated in Fijian games run by Botaira’s local staff. We threw spears, tried to find a ball while blindfolded, and did an egg toss on the beach. This evening, our mentors gave a presentation on setting goals, which culminated in a description of a project that each GLA student will do. We all are encouraged to relate our experiences in Fiji to something that we can do to make a difference in our own communities, and create a presentation on our ideas. Our day ended with briefings on our next service adventures for each group, as we begin new projects tomorrow. Moce! (Goodbye!)
Today in the sustainability service group, we completed the cement base for the water catchment system we are constructing. First, we compiled all of the supplies we needed to make the base. Next, we assembled a mold for the cement base using wooden boards. After, we mixed all of the cement ingredients in a barrel and poured it into the mold. Finally, we used a trowel to spread the cement through out the mold.
-Julia and Randy
This morning we woke up to the sound of wind and pattering rain on our roofs. We ran from our bure to the shelter of the deck for a delicious breakfast. We prepared for another day of service. After waiting for the rain to pass we boarded the boat, eager to start our second day of service in our new groups. In sustainability we carried cumbersome bags of cement and brought the tools for the cement mixing to the new site. We mixed and filled the cement into the new base for the second water tank. After we finished the task of hand mixing the cement we broke for lunch.
After lunch we measured and nailed the guttering system onto the roof of the house which would catch the water and put it in the tank. In education, we started off our day with a few songs. Next, we split into our groups where each GLA member worked with one or a few assigned students. We began by reading them some books and moved into different activities such as worksheets, math, spelling, and some games. After lunch, we came back together as a group and played some outdoor games.
After all the kids had had enough fun, we once again split into our groups and began to work with the students once more. We continued this until our final debrief with the kids before we departed from the village. When we returned to Botaira, we had a lot of free time and most of us decided to swim out to the dock.
After all our relaxation, we enjoyed a delicious dinner followed by a presentation and discussion about different opportunities to travel, work, and study internationally.
-Colin and Kevin
Today was our last day of service, but luckily not our last day in the village. We still have the final ceremony to look forward to:) In the morning we ate another great breakfast and then were off to the village. The education group worked with their respective kids in the morning. We started off by sitting in a circle all together, singing some songs and the children recited some of their favourite bible verses. It was soooo adorable.
Then every GLA student in education got a kid to work with and read to them. We worked with them on their english and some math. Then it was lunch time. After lunch we played some games with the kids. We sang row row row your boat and I’m a little teapot. And did many dances. All the kids were very excited and into all the activities which made it 10x better. Then we read a final book all together to wrapped up our education service. I already miss the kids and it has not even been a full day. Luckily we will see them all on Friday. Education has created such great connections:)
In sustainability today we finished both of our water tanks! The concrete bases had dried so we took off the wood holding and rolled the rain barrels on top. We also set up the piping along the houses that led the water into the tank. It was pouring rain most of the day so it was awesome to see the instant results of our hard work when the rainwater started trickling down!
On the way back to Botaira the waves were huge and it was windy and rainy all the way back! It was crazy but we made it back safe and sound! We had some tea at tea time and then had great mentor sessions. We had a great dinner and played some heads up before bed and just spent some time together as we wrap up our final days at Botaira!
-Carolyn and Isabel
Being one of the last days on Naviti, we had a big, fun day ahead of us. Soon after breakfast, we were off to a different part of the island where there was a remote beach with beautiful snorkeling. We spent the morning and into lunch tanning, swimming, playing in the sand and admiring the coral reefs. At noon we had a delicious BBQ lunch that some Botaira staff prepared for us, we were lucky enough to have them tag along for the day.
Once arriving back at Botaira, activity group #1 went on a medicine walk with Ms Tema. She taught us all about the medicinal uses of many plants that are at our own resort. Meanwhile, activity group #2 made coconut rings, and saw a demonstration of a local staff member opening a coconut with their bare hands. Afterwards, we had a talent show that everyone participated in. Before wrapping up the night, we had a bonfire on the beach, and participated in a variety of exciting activities.
The final days are upon us. Early today, we took off in our little school boat for our last day at Nosoqo. We arrived to a lively community preparing for the lovo (earth oven). We helped where we could and then watched the local men load the food into the hole. While we waited with the villagers for our lunch to cook, we presented to them the details of the service work we completed.
Hey what’s up! It’s Lulu one last time. I’m just picking up where Randy left off. After our presentations we kicked it with some authentic Fijian dance routines. A group of Fijian kids and their parents performed a fun gospel dance for us. After we danced dambay for the village. Later the Fijians took apart the lovo which was literally on fire but the Fijians still touched everything with their bare hands. To neutralize the heat on their skin, the Fijians dunked their hands in cold buckets of water. We enjoyed some lunch together which was pretty tasty. We then had a farewell cava ceremony with the mentors. The local ladies also sold us different souvenirs and jewellery. We got some pretty sweet stuff! Finally, the village gathered to sing isa lei for us before we left. A lot of us cried as we boarded the boat! We came back to tea time and dinner on the beach followed by some sweet dance moves done by the Fijian staff. It was a pretty solid day and I’m ready for bed. This is my last time writing the blog so Lulu is out for good.
-Lulu and Randy
Bula! Today we started off the day early with a sunrise hike up the mountain at Botaira. After breakfast, we packed up our bags and prepared for a day of travel. Then we presented our Capstone presentations to the group and received a very heartfelt goodbye song from the lovely staff at Botaira.
We took our last ride on our little school boat to get out to the ferry that would take us back to the mainland. We said a few more tearful goodbyes as we climbed aboard, and watched Botaira disappear. After our three hour boat ride, we got on a bus that would take us back to Nadi Bay. We are now spending our last night in Fiji relaxing and preparing for the day ahead. We can’t wait to see you all!
-Leila and Julia
Bula! Today is our last day in Fiji and everyone is so sad to go! We woke up at Nadi Bay and had a great breakfast. We then had some packing time and left for downtown Nadi. We walked around town and bought some cool souvenirs! Some of the girls got henna and we had lunch at a pizza place. We watched a slideshow of our trip and then were off to the airport. Moce Fiji!