Thursday July 5, 2018
Bula from Fiji!
Our new Fijian home welcomed us with traditional kava ceremony. In silence we were watching and listening to men preparing this national drink and sharing with GLA staff team.
It’s 24 students all together in our group. Some of us met at LAX, others at the Nadi airport in Fiji’s During many activities today we managed to get to each other names and our background.
We had a lovely walk to the local beach. We passed a lot of green fields and palm trees. We can’t believe it’s so green out here! While walking on the beach some of us spotted crabs somewhere between the rocks.
Fijian staff from the hotel prepared a traditional lovo for dinner. It’s a dish baked underground. We had meat, fish, taro (a type of root plant, similar to potatoes), spinach and some fresh salad.
We are all tired after long travel to Fiji and very excited about next 2 weeks!
Friday July 6, 2018
In the words of Alexander Von Humboldt, “The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have never viewed the world.” This was our quote of the day and also an unofficial motto that encompasses what our goals for this trip are. We started our day with a Chow Circle where we went over our agenda and created goals that we hoped to achieve by the end of the afternoon. We all agreed that we wanted to completely immerse ourselves into the culture and so everyday we have committed to learning a new word. The words of the day were Bula, which means hello, and Yadra which means good morning. At this current rate we hope to be fluent by the end of the trip.
After Breakfast, we learned all about Fiji’s rich history. We also learned about the kava ceremony and about this traditional plant. It was very cool to learn about the various cultural customs that are practiced over here. We learned how to properly sit, tie our Sulus and excuse our selves. It was a blast!
We then embarked on an adventure that included volcanic hot springs, games and lots of mud, but it all started with the best fish and chips in Fiji. After this amazing lunch, we went on a beautiful hike and got an opportunity to appreciate the gorgeous vistas. We then went to a spa where we rubbed mineral rich mud all over ourselves and play very intense team games.
Overall, the day was super fun and informative. Tomorrow there will be a change in scenery and I think I speak for everyone when I say we are excited to see why will come next.
Kaden and Itasca
Saturday July 7, 2018
24 sleepy-eyed GLA-goers eagerly awoke at the civilised hour of 5.30am to prepare for our departure for the exotic island, Nacula. We began the day with our daily Chow Circle: to remind the group of the adventures that were to follow and the crucial kit that was needed for the day. After a quick breakfast of papaya, pineapple and scrambled eggs, we lugged our extremely oversized baggage into the coach and set off for the ferry port, just in time to watch the sun rise and illuminate the Fijian islands. We swiftly arrived at the port with just enough time to buy even more unnecessary snacks and coffee. What then entailed was a 5 hour boat ride to the island which consisted of 2 hour monopoly games, much-needed naps, ice cream and some sunbathing on the roof.
We passed dozens of beautiful islands and just about managed to sing through every Mamma Mia and Shrek song. The 5 hour journey flew by and before we knew it we were being greeted on our tropical island by friendly Fijians waving and shouting BULA! The island was breathtaking, and we all stood on the beach taking in our surroundings. Next we were assigned our rooms. Our rooms are blue huts that are comfortable and cozy. We also have a porch and a hammock that has proven to be a fun hangout spot.
After we got our rooms we had or lunch, which consisted of local Fijian foods. As the afternoon progressed, we gathered on the beach and we were split into three groups that rotated through three different stations. The first was a swim assessment, the second was an intro to snorkeling, and the third was an intro into marines sciences. We then had some free time in which many of us spent more time on the beach and getting aquatinted with our new home. During the early evening we all met on in the beach and played games that helped us bond even more.
The beach was filled laughter and smiles. It was amazing because when we had free time, we continued to play games on the beach as the sun was setting. In that moment it was clear hat we had already become so close even though it has only been three days. We then had our evening chow circle in which we reflected on our day. After dinner we then split into three groups and we discussed our goals for the trip and what we were hoping to get out of this experience. We ending the long day by sitting on the beach and staring at stars that are lighting up the night sky.
Sunday July 8, 2018
Bula! Goodmorning after our first night on the Nacula island.
We started the day off by learning some Fijian words from our local guide, Gabby. With the local slang on our minds, we husked some coconuts and learned how to weave coconut leaf baskets with captain Bill and Mosese. Our captain likes to share his wisdom and told us to be like a coconut tree – be good like a coconut and be useful like a coconut- as everything from the tree is pure and utilized in Fiji.
The afternoon was filled with coral ( or in Fijian: Lase-) adventures. We went snorkeling to pick up dead coral and made fish houses out of them. We used cement to stick the pieces together as true ocean architects and decorated them with shells. Later this week we’ll put these back in the water so that they can be used as a new flourishing habitat for marine life.
There was free time to do sunbathing, ride on kayaks and play games. One could say we had plenty of fun! A very inspiring Ted Talk named “single stories” led us to sharing our perceptions on only having one side of a story. A moment to reflect at sunset.
By Sophia Chulack and Dylan Bender
Monday July 9, 2018
Today we started off the day by taking a beautiful morning boat ride to the village on the other side of the island. We visited the school where we listened to the young kids sing traditional Fijian songs and afterwords had a fun time playing games with them such as duck duck goose and tag. After the school we went Into the heart of the village where we got to meet the chief and take a tour of the area. We had snack and lunch in the village as well. After lunch we took a boat ride back to our home base where we then changed into our swim wear and went for a cooling afternoon snorkel. When we were done snorkeling we had time to relax on the beach or kayak. To end the day we played some games and then had dinner. I would call this another successful day on the beautiful island of Nacula!!
– Jerry and Gabby
Tuesday July 10, 2018
Today we split into two groups, one group which worked with locals to help replant corals to areas which suffered from coral bleaching. The other group which we were in went out on a boat with locals as well and we did reef checks which involved counting fish and other sea organisms to help gather data to compare and make sure the reef is still healthy. Each group snorkeled for around 2 hours and had lots of fun. Our group in particular got to see 2 sharks, a small shark, and a leopard shark. I’m addition, we saw two eagle rays swimming together and then rested on a beautiful island which had goats as well.
By, Audrey and Teja
Wednesday July 11, 2018
Today everyone was split into two groups. This time service group 1 stayed at the home base doing the works of coral restoration. The work consisted of implementing cookies (not the ones you eat) made of cement and used collected coral tied to it and set that down 5 meters deep during low tide for the growth of new coral to grow.
While service group 2 took a bleat ride to a separate island and did a reef check, each pair of students counting the number of a certain species of fish. After tea time everyone spent their 2 hours catching up and bonding through bracelet making, volley ball, and watching the sunset. After dinner we all watched Moana on our movie night. All in all it was a very successful day.
Thursday July 12, 2018
Already halfway the program?! Time just flies by when you are having fun. Today was all about climate change and how it affects our blue planet. After munching away our breakfast, we went straight into a mangrove workshop with our Fijian marine and climate expert Gabby. Moving forward by taking actual steps in protecting this local area. We planted hundreds of mangroveseeds and gave them a chance to grow and protect the Nacula island. Mangroves are the most wicked plants on earth. Think nursery and cyclone protection and shelter for tons of animals. It is important to keep them around.
Working on the beach was much fun though we faced some challenges. The burning sun and incoming tide were against us. Because of the limited resources we had the put the legs to work.
« When men are of one heart, they can move mountains. »
And we created a rock wall that enquired manpower. This wall will keep the sediment and sand in the harbor and will slow down the process of erosion. But are we feeling the muscles! The crabs and other marine creatures hiding in those rocks got a new location. Bet they are having housewarming tonight. Even though we are tired after the work, the results are so rewarding. We celebrate with a dance party on the beach tonight.
-By Violet Kaufmen, Qingtian Shi
Friday July 13, 2018
The day started off quiet and chill. Each group played games and tried to sort out something to entertain themselves as they awaited the boat. The day was filled with new and exciting projects; building trash bins out of recycled material and digging a deep pit for trash management for the village. Once on the island each group split and started their projects. The children greeted them with loving smiles and admired them from their colorful classrooms.
The groups grabbed shovels and rigorously started digging the pit. Giggles ruptured and even a race started against one another to fill up the basket the fastest.
The other group grabbed used Fiji water bottles and strung wire through holes and formed a wall for the trash to go into.
After a long day of hard work, everyone came back to camp relaxed and even had a large bon fire and danced the night away.
-by Eliana and Timothy
Saturday July 14, 2018
Saturday started with a bit of an early start because we had a full day of fun ahead. We were separate in to two different groups.Hiking was the first activity for group 2 And for group 1 went cave snorkeling in Sawailau Caves. The local guide said we haven’t been to the Yasawas until we’ve been to the caves! . For the groups that went hiking, we walked around 3 miles up the tallest peak on the island. There were amazing 360 views of our island and surrounding islands. It was amazing! Hard work for sure to get there but rewarding with a view of the coral reefs and aquamarine water.
During cave snorkeling, we saw where a scene “the blue lagoon” movie was filmed. There were two chambers. The first one had an open top so there was light. The second chamber was dark but incredibly cool to explore even though it was dark. The guides had underwater flashlights so we could see the structure. After another delicious dinner (we’re all eating so much home cooked food) there was a presentation about ‘lollipops moments’… which is a type of leadership that involves everyday little magical moments that might impact the people around you… and you might not even know it! Overall our quote of the day, which was “it does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop” by Confucius, really for in well to today’s activities. Moce! (Goodbye/goodnight)
Jerry & Victoria
Sunday July 15, 2018
Here is what day 12 looked like in the eyes of our students:
What a memorable day it was. One that will always be in our hearts. We arrived early morning in the Nacula village to present work we did on the program. We provided entertainment first though. The coral song was definitely a hit at the school. We proceeded to inform the children about our new knowledge on trash, climate change, and mangroves.
Presenting our work and results to the village board that includes the mayor and chief was impressive. The data we gathered will be used to protect the marine area and makes sure the village interests are at heart as it will be included in governmental studies. We all realize how important our volunteering work is to the community. As they keep saying: “The first day you are a guest, the second you are one of us. ” We then had the privilege to cook our lunch with the locals. A meal you prepare in coconut tree leaves and will be cooked in a pit in the ground.
After the delicious “lovo”, we also had the amazing opportunity to try kava during the traditional ceremony. Kava is a drink made from the pepper plant and sometimes numbs your tongue. Although it was nothing like soda, it was still a very exciting experience… ( read: it tastes like dirtwater with liquorish flavor)
We then had to say our final goodbyes to the community and headed back to home base having our last dinner together on the island. We dance the night away as tomorrow we hop on the ferry back to the mainland.
Vinaka Nacula! You were pure bliss!
We were fortunate enough to have another a precious extra hour of sleep before our chow Circle at 7.45. After a delicious breakfast of coconut pancakes and peanut butter we jumped into the boat, driven by our favorite captain Bill and made our way to a beautiful private island. We had a relaxing Sunday morning which consisted of intense volley ball matches against the locals – star players including Sophia C, Violet, Jerry Lee and Paige. We also went snorkeling amongst the friendliest fish who seemed to chase us rather than us chase them. We then all sat down for a humungous lunch on the island cooked by the Oarsman staff and barbecued by our very own Jerry and Jerry!
After eating far too much we began to mentally prepare for the Amazing race that was looming on us.
We began the race at 2.30 and we were split into 3 teams. The race included traditional Fijian skills such as basket weaving and coconut husking. We finished the race off with a competitive kayak race to the buoy and back which was won by champion kayaker Anni. However it was a close call and the final prize, a traditional Fijian staff was won by Paige’s team, thanks to Paige’s agility and flexibility.
After the race we cooled down with a refreshing swim in the sea and a Hercules sing off. We returned to home base via the boat after an action packed day and a break from service. We arrived just in time for tea and started to prepare our presentation on our service projects for the villagers. We learnt the coral song which we will perform to the kids tomorrow and learnt some professional dance moves thanks to Kaden’s mastery.
-Written by Anni Paradise