All students have arrived safely and have called home as of July 5th. Students are excited to begin their program and participate in service projects on the island!
Staff and students will be sending photos and/or blog updates every 3-4 days, and you will receive an email from staff once a new update is available.
July 6, 2015
By: Selena and Miranda
So, day two in Fiji we woke up and went to morning circle! Today’s goal was self-discovery and self-care. We went to the roof of the Nadi resort, played an evolution game and then it was time for breakfast. Toast with jam, butter and peanut butter, eggs with baked beans, tea, coffee and a juice that could easily be mistaken for orange juice but tastes distinctly of papaya. Next we were introduced to Elle Nimacere, known by most as ‘awesome lady’. She taught us the basics of Fijian culture and language. We learned what to do and what not to do for when we go do service, which we then acted out in some hilarious skits.
With self-discovery in mind, we paired up with a partner by grabbing their shoes from a pile. This allowed us to share our story and grow a deeper and closer relationship with our partners. Definitely a great way to get close fast! I mean we are spending 3 weeks together so we have to be close right?
After lunch we grabbed our bathing suits and towels and boarded a bus. We met the sleeping giant, a beautiful mountain outline that resembled a giant man. We toured a beautiful orchid garden and hiked up to a pristine view of the whole island. Then it was back on the bus and over to the hot springs and mud bath.
We were greeted with bula and happy smiles. We broke off into four groups for a sort of Fijian Olympics. It was the Skull Flowers vs the Orchids vs the Sleeping Giants vs the Bulalas. Balloons were popped, eggs were dropped and water was spilled. It was super fun! We then painted ourselves with slimy black mud from head to toe. Our guide said it made you 12 years old again and grew back hair if you were bald. We rinsed off the mud in a mud bath. The bottom off the bath was pretty disgusting but also interesting. It felt like seaweed or something but in reality it was just mud and leaves that fell from the tree above the bath. After that delightful experience we jumped in a pool fed by a hot spring. It felt wonderful and there was a killer view of the mountains. We had to be asked to leave! We then ate fresh fruit from the field behind the pools.
On the bus ride back to Nadi Resort we were singing songs and drinking tons of water. We discussed leadership and how to give advice and constructive criticism. It was an exhausting but exhilarating day. Some people were too tired to stay for ice cream but everyone was happy.
July 7, 2015
Bula from Fiji!
We began our day with our breakfast circle lead by Jacob and Briley, where we played energizing games. After our usual breakfast of delicious toast and fruit, we took a bus ride to an Indo-fijian village to take part in making an amazing lunch. We prepared and cooked everything over a fire. We learned how to crack open coconuts and to cook with authentic indian spices. Our hosts were very kind and generous and did a wonderful job at making us feel at home. After a few hours of he=ard work preparing our food, we were able to finally enjoy our cuisine. It was a Indo-Fijian tradition to eat everything using our hands, so things got a bit messy. After lunch, Nelly and Briley were chosen to try on the traditional Indian sari. We even got to meet the family’s adorable cat, which we nicknamed Simba.
Next, we visited the town for a bit of shopping to pick up a few essentials we needed. A few of us also visited an Asian desert shop for milkshakes and coconut water. Because the store operated on Fiji time, it took quite a while and we almost missed our bus back. When we got home we got a bit of free time to exercise or relax. Miranda and Antonia visited the pool where Miranda taught her how to swim. After free time we had a guest speaker talk about personality roles. He was running a bit late, but Jake kept us thoroughly entertained by getting up and starting a horribly off tune sing-a-long complete with interpretive dancing from Briley. Once our sing-a-long was over our guest speaker Aisake gave us quizzes to show what kind of personality we have. This helped us learn how to better operate with others and learn how to compromise with different types of people. We announced our new leaders at the dinner circle, who were Miranda and Max. After eating dinner we packed up for our long boat ride tomorrow.
July 9, 2015
Home Base- We have some awesome bures that are directly on sunrise beach of Barefoot island and spend a lot of time in our base hut for meals and meetings.
Today, Max and Miranda were the leaders of the day. We had an early start with some sunrise yoga at 6:45, and today we decided to focus on flexibility not only physically but mentally. Today was the morning after a typhoon of sickness and we really came together as a group and got to know each other. With the first boat off to service, four groups started their projects. This session we are focusing on marine conservation, rainwater collection, food bank, and education.
My group and I set off for our service in the reefs and were bubbling with excitement to be in the water. We were greeted by an awesome community and sat down for an interesting lesson on the connectivity of land and sea. It was interesting to see the love for Earth’s rehabilitation and the natives working to help. After lunch, we all grabbed our fins and jumped in the water. I have only every been to beaches with brackish water so the brilliant blue was absolutely amazing. We had a great time looking for sea cucumbers, and even encountered a sea serpent! ( don’t worry I only got bitten once!)
Julianne – Rainwater Collection Project
After breakfast this morning, my group and I headed off to Navidi Island to visit Yasawa High School, where we began our project of building a rainwater collection tank that will help provide clean water to the children and teachers in the school by collecting rainwater from the roofs of the buildings and filtering it. We were warmly greeted by the children and teachers of the school – we even saw them do a welcome dance and song for us just before we were given an orientation to our project. Our group split into two groups today – one began digging the hole that the rainwater collector will go in, and the other began by moving sand from the beach to the site to be mixed with cement to eventually create the building around the collector. It was definitely a lot of manual labor, but it was still a lot of fun, and we will sleep well tonight for sure!
Alix- Food bank
This morning, we arrived on the beautiful island Naviti. Upon our arrival, we went to a structure similar to our ‘town halls’ and met with the mayor to go over cultural norms on the island, and gained permission to wear hats and listen to music while we worked. Our projects mission is to build a structure for a food bank, so when a typhoon or other natural disaster strikes, the island members will be prepared and not have to wait months for new food. We are building the structure from the ground up, which is very exciting! Today, we started by collecting sand from the breathtaking beaches to later on (either tomorrow or Monday) mix with cement. This proved to be both a physically and mentally challenging task. The sand proved to weigh much more than it looks, and while collecting it from the beach, the crystal clear ocean seemed as if it were calling our names! The smaller (kindergarten age) children were at first timid when seeing us, but gradually began to play, and even help us with our sand collecting. We had a relaxing lunch in one of the family’s houses, and then got back to work. When an unexpected downpour occurred, we returned to the hut and were treated to fresh, just cut off of the tree papaya! When we returned to the boat, although our arms may have been sore our hearts were full from the children’s contagious happiness. We are very excited to return to our project and see the approaching results!
July 12, 2015
I know it’s been a while since we have updated this blog but not to worry, we have been doing some amazing things! Yesterday, half of the group went on a hike from Coconut Bay to a local community called Kese. To get to the other side of the hill, we had to climb straight up for fifty minutes. Although we were all exhausted from the hike, the views from the top were incredible.
When we finally arrived in Kese, local children and their mothers greeted us. They had cut some fresh fruits for us to eat. The children were so friendly. We played hand games and tag. They even taught us some local dances. Even though most of them did not speak English, we had no trouble having fun.
Today, we spent all of our time on the island. In the morning, we had a marine biologist come speak to us about the coral reefs and manta rays. After that, some of us went on a hike to the top of our island, Barefoot Island. There were stunning views of the ocean and the coral reefs. After lunch, we went on a snorkel around the tip of the island through a canal called Manta Passage. The coral reefs were teeming with sea cucumbers, fish, and even sea serpents. We are so lucky to be able to walk out of our rooms straight into the ocean. I am 6exited to be able to experience Fiji life every day for the next two weeks. Moce!
By: Sam Kleyner
Today the Food Bank group worked on gathering the materials for the foundation of the actual food bank. The plan is to have a 21 by 12 inch structure to hold contents in case of a disaster as a cyclone. We had to go collect gravel in sand bags and wheel barrels and bring it back to the food bank site. As well as sand and larger stones had to be collected and brought back to the site. We look forward in seeing the progression and the final result!
By: Emma Jacobsen
Today in the education service group, we started out with one to one reading with the kids. We would help kids who aren’t up to the reading level of their class. Today I worked with my student by reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and talked about the days of the week. He was good at remembering but had a hard time spelling Wednesday. Working one to one with them for the second day was fun because I started to see improvement in the reading level. After one to one reading, we went into different classrooms to help the teachers. I went into the 7th Grade class with Tiffany (it’s also her birthday today), and we helped put up curtains then assisted the students with their math. Today they were learning about circumference and diameter etc. I taught one of the kids a song I learned in 6th grade to remember the formulas. I also helped in a 4th grade class with class reading time. I read stories with the girls and had them read to each other. Education was so fun today and I am finally remembering some of the students names. Tonight I’m going to touch up on my math so I can help my 7th graders better tomorrow! As a group, we are going to work on coming up with a lesson plan for future one to one reading sessions to better help each individual. I’m so excited to go again tomorrow!
By: Rylie Walker
Today in the Marine Biology service group we did a couple of different things. To start the day, we began by picking mangrove seedlings to be planted later on. We hung out and bonded with the vocational students at the Mauira village who are studying marine science. After we picked loads of mangrove seedlings, we moved soil around and planted them to begin their regrowth! From there we ate lunch, which consisted of a meal the locals had prepared for us in a traditional setting. Once we had finished with lunch, we made cement mix with the other students to create cement patties. The purpose of the cement was to hold clipped coral so that they could regrow in the water when planted later on. When all was finished in Mauira for the day, we walked to the neighboring village called Kese to help the food bank service group with their service project. We had a busy day full of hard work and fun.
By: Alex Suppan
The rainwater catchment group had a strenuous day of service today. The sun beat down on our backs, as the sweat dripped from our brows. Rivers of sweat poured from our armpits, and we completely sweat through one of our two uniform t-shirts. We struggled as we trudged along with buckets of sand. The only way that I personally pushed through was by imagining that I was the wind, and that I was living outside of myself. I was a particle of air blowing through the wind, without a specific path. The only difference, my purpose is to complete a service project to funnel water into the mouths of thirsty Fijian schoolchildren. I love you mom and dad. I am doing something good for the world.
By: Cherilyn Lau, Taylor Wiley and Belle Canning
After waking up from a windy night, we meet for breakfast circle hoping to begin another day of service. Instead we had to wait until 9 to begin our day, when realizing that the wind was not working in our favors. Unlike other days, the Food bank and Marine biology group left first, then Education and Rainwater catchment group left second, leaving us all with only a half day left of service.
The rainwater catchment system is coming along quite well, considering we skipped a whole day of work last Friday and a late start today, both due to weather conditions. We usually get to school by 8:30 or so. Instead, we arrived at Yasawa High School by 12. We went straight to work by continuing what we have been doing for the two days, carrying buckets of water through a giant grass field. After filling the two big tanks of water that was situated on the top of a small hill, finally we ate lunch. When our stomachs were filled began to mix cement and laying it on the platform that we have built, some helped mix, some poured cement and another helped flatten the surface. Since we did not have enough time, we did not complete the whole platform, but we are all excited to continue tomorrow.
The food bank service was the first boat to leave this morning. The ride was very exciting and bumpy. Although we got wet, most people wore their bathing suits so their clothes and sarongs wouldn’t get ruined. When we arrived to Kese Village, we immediately began collecting gravel to mix with the cement. We inserted the cement into the foundation and leveled it out. While we were waiting for the cement to dry, we continued making trips to pick up sand and bring it back to the pile. As we were leaving, some of the children from Kasey village came to say goodbye, or in Fijian, Moce!
The Marine group and the Food bank group were the first to get on the boat, we were soaking by the time we got to the village Muiera! We immediately started to pick up rubbish on the beach for about 30 minutes. Then two vocational students took us further down the beach and climbed a palm tree and started to cut down many palm leaves, which was used to weave into shelter for the hut. We dragged these giant leaves back to our meeting point where we were shown how to weave; we wove for around an hour. And trust me, it was a lot harder than it sounds! Finally, we sat down with one of the student’s and they were kind enough to make us lunch. After lunch, we had to leave early because the weather conditions were changing. What a day!
By: Antonia Zhu
Today is a windy day. After we carried sand gravel and rocks from the area near the village the past several days, we became very tired, but we still kept enthusiasm with us all the day. When we reached the village in the morning, the locals there had been working for a while, so all of us loved to join them as soon as possible. The leader of a day –Taylor- distributed different work to everyone so that we had a clear schedule about what we should do today. Firstly, we found that we still needed more sand from the beach to fill the foundation of food bank, so all of us hauled sand for many rounds. Then, we helped the locals to cut the long wood into 16 shorter chunks which were used to build the structure of the walls. In those chunks, eight of them should be perfect 7ft 2in. long, and the other eight should be 6ft 8in. long. Finally, we began to use nails to hold the chunks together with a long wood in the foundation. After the work we’d done, it finally looks like a structure of house now. Although we are very tired and even slept on the boat when we came back from the village, we are proud of ourselves!
Hard work makes tired students. These girls have been working super hard and fall asleep nearly every day on the boat ride back to base.
By: Briley Hebner and Shayna Bomfim-Finkelstein
Today is our second and last adventurous Saturday. We split into two groups last weekend and one went on a hike and the other did yoga, and the following Saturday (today) they would switch activities.
Briley- My group headed off for the hike around 9:30. Lemeke drove us on the boat over to a resort, where we climbed up and over the mountain into the village Kese. It was definitely steep and tiring, but it did not take too long with our bad ass hiking sticks and positive energy. The view from the top was amazing and really worth the struggle. I felt like a role in Swiss Family Robinson who just sent out an SOS signal. With a break and a ton of pictures, we were back on our way down the mountain. With only a couple slips and slides, we made it down for lunch in the town hall. Of course, we stopped at the food bank site and saw their epic work on the shed. Kudos to you guys!! We were all so tired that we were literally falling asleep on the floor but with some effort we got up to play with the village children until the boat picked us up. HAHA funny moment, a bunch of kids were jumping on us calling us “Papa lagis,” and we were all like, “Awwwww what are they saying??”…..It means we are their white people!!! So good!
Shayna – Our group had some extra time this morning to get ready before yoga at 10am. We set up our yoga mats and towels on a deck looking out onto the ocean. Jess, our mentor, led us in an hour-long session with experienced and beginner yogis. After yoga, we were all very relaxed and ready to take on the day. Before lunch, we played a game called Spider’s Web where we had to help our teammates through a web made of rope. After lunch, most of us went on a snorkel safari where we took a boat out to some beautiful snorkeling sites. On our snorkel, we saw parrot fish, chromis, sea stars and many others. We were able to swim through walls of fish and hold sea stars and sea cucumbers. I felt so insignificant among all those mesmerizing creatures. Being able to swim in the ocean was such a great experience since there is so much unknown. When we got back to Barefoot, we jumped into the shower and went along to our next activity.
When we got back, we had some time to either get some sun, or have a nice language lesson from Tema, and then met back together at 5:30 for leadership activities. Taylor (Welsh) and Cherilyn designed a game similar to hide and seek, to continue their focus of discovering, yourself, others, and the beautiful island. It ended with a very entertaining song from Jacob and Tiffany and a solid spaghetti dinner. A cherry on top was the burnt orange eclipse and a dark night really brought out they amazing stars.
Thank you, Peace out, LYTTMABAAATS MOMMY. Te amo!
By: Madeline and Yasmina
Today, on our final Sunday, was probably the most spirited and competitive day yet. This morning the people who hadn’t previously gotten a chance to snorkel with manta rays got the chance to do so and saw a baby and adult manta while the rest of the group began with some relaxing yoga. We then handmade coconut jewelry, which is definitely not as easy as it looks. I spent about two hours carving a ring out of the shell of a coconut. It was worth it in the end because now I feel so accomplished and proud of my hard work. After that, some people snorkeled and others spent time chilling on the island. I spent my time reading in a hammock on the beach. After lunch, we did a beach walk where we learned about the different life found on the island. And then the games began!!! Briley spent some time coming up with this super crazy game called “Fiji Fight to the Finish.” It was based off of Harry Potter, as far as characters go, but in my opinion it was pretty much GLA Hunger Games. After dividing into teams named after different Fijian villages, we sprinted back to our bures to change into our decided team colors and get spirited. That’s when the war paint (aka eyeliner) came out. Our four events included a sand castle building competition, a mermaid in the sand contest, a super competitive volleyball tournament, and finally, a game called Mr./Mrs. GLA. The theme for today was to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. Lastly, we all got together for a bonfire under the stars. Overall its been an incredible couple weeks so far. It’s sad to think that we only have six more days in this beautiful place. We’re all looking forward to making the most of the three days of service we have left.