Bula friends and family!
Hi Family and Friends!
We have had a relaxing weekend here on the island. On Saturday, 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.
After dinner, we watched Blackfish, a documentary about the sad realities involving the mistreatment of orca whales spending their entire lives in captivity. It was an excellent film for kick-starting a group discussion on difficult topics that are so important to talk about.
On Sunday, we jumped right into the fun with a scavenger hunt around the island. We split up into two teams to write songs, raps, and participate in the most hilarious relay race ever, ending in multiple people falling into the water from dizziness, and with Johnny getting chased by a dog.
In the afternoon, we got a Fijian language lesson from Tema, one of our local leaders, in which we learned some common phrases and vocabulary. The teams from the scavenger hunt played some friendly games of volleyball and then hit the beach to cool off in the beautiful water. After dinner, we watched educational videos on trash and pollution, bottled water, and the South Pacific, which were again intriguing entry points for future discussions. Then, we all headed to bed early to get a good night’s rest in preparation to start our second week of community service in the morning!
Peace and Chow,
Anna and Casey
Fiji in Photos
Strong Winds & Snorkeling
Due to some rough waves and strong winds, our group was unable to attend our community service today. Even so, we still managed to help out our local Fijian community. Together, we planted coconut trees, vegetable seeds, flowers, and mangroves in order to help provide more sustainable food sources. In addition, we aided Barefoot Island’s Marine Biology Center by cleaning four of its beaches. All of this was topped of by a wonderful and exploratory group snorkel session.
Although there were many sudden schedule changes, our team was able to adapt easily with positive attitudes. We took the storm as a way to connect with the locals and further explore our new island home. The locals expressed their gratitude for the entire GLA program’s hard work and efforts throughout the day, and especially, our Leaders of the Day: Lauren Goldfarb and Jake Linfesty.
Though we had success today and made the most of our experience, our group is looking forward to returning to community service at Yasawa High School on Monday.
Moce (goodnight in Fijian),
– Michaela O’Connor and Elizabeth Wilson
Today the group went to Yasawa High School and began their first day of service. We divided into two groups, one working directly in the classroom with the kids, and the other group building a house in the village.
The GLA students who worked in the classroom were assigned different types of tasks. Some worked one-on-one with sixth grade students and their English language skills. Others taught entire third grade classes. “Mr. Jack (CA)” drew an incredibly accurate and educatioaln rendition of the White House and American Flag for the students. The GLA students who worked on construction spent the day sandpapering and priming the house, replacing the home of a teacher whose house was destroyed in a 2011 cyclone.
After reflecting on our service day, we all headed back to our home, Barefoot Island for a little relaxing by the beach. As a group we discussed differences between the Fijian and American cultures, specifically talking about the “culture of fear.” We enjoyed a lovely meal and then created our ground rules by signing a full-body contract, created by the students, that outlines rules on positive and negative behaviors that we want to enforce on our new island home. We closed the night with an unsuccessful game of human knot, ending in a domino effect of crashing students! We all look forward to going back to service tomorrow and getting to know the villagers and Fijian students better.
Casey A. and Anna K.
Greetings for the first country to receive sunlight each morning, Fiji!
Today is our last day in Nadi. As a group we visited the local beach to help clean up trash, which turned into a friendly competition. A special thanks to Johnny Colbert from Chicago for keeping up the competitive spirit during the beach clean up and for raising morale. We ended up collecting four big bags in total!
At lunch we learned how to cook traditional Indian meal together consisting of roti and curry. Our leaders of the day were Claire Coughlin from Denver, and Lada Marsavin from Los Angeles. They reflected on the woman who helped teach us about Indian cuisine, noticing they were extremely nice and deserved great thanks! Our leaders also said they were proud of our group’s ability to welcome the women and make them feel comfortable regardless of language barriers.
Then during some down time, our staff offered a fulfilling work out session as well as a helpful snorkeling training. Both thoroughly enjoyed! After a short break we were on the road again to visit the city for an afternoon of shopping. Traveling in small groups we manage to keep ourselves together and responsibly take care of each other.
Even though we have had little time together, our group still manages to support one another no matter the activity at hand is. With this in mind we look forward to the new adventures at Barefoot Island that will start tomorrow!
– Micheala O’Connor and Lizzy Wilson
Update 6/19: Today was our first day on Barefoot Island. The day consisted of snorkeling, learning about Manta Rays, cultural orientation. and (of course) settling in. Our group begins community service tomorrow!
The Fiji Lifestyle
Having some fun and getting to know one another on Day 2 in Fiji!
Welcome to Paradise
All students have arrived safe and sound in Fiji and are already having an amazing time! We’ll update you with detailed blog posts soon, but for now, check out these photos of this fun-loving group!