Background• My project will be on my humanitarian trip to Fiji, from June 4th to the 19th, 2011• Before this trip, the furthest from home I had been was Florida with a friend’s family, and although I had been on a plane before I had never flown overseas. I was ready to see more of the world, which is why I jumped at this opportunity.• I had seen announcements in my lectures for an organization called Volunteer Eco Students Abroad (VESA)• I attended an information session, signed up, and before I knew it I was preparing for a once in a lifetime trip to Fiji!• The trip would be divided into two parts: the first part consisted of living with a host family and doing volunteer work in a village, and the second part was a vacation involving island hopping to different resorts• I’d like to take you through my Fiji adventures, and let you see for yourself why it truly changed my life
Getting There 1. Meet some of the group members at Toronto Airport 2. Fly 5 hours to Los Angeles, LAX Airport, spotting celebrities along the way (Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Robert Pattenson on our flight, and rapper Drake at LAX)3. Meet with the rest of the group members, spend our 8 hour layover in LAX gettingto know each other better, and finally embark on our 11 hour flight to Nadi, Fiji TOTAL = 5+8+11 = 24 hours of travel!! start ARRIVE!
On Arrival• Landed on the main island of Fiji called Viti Levu at the only airport in Nadi, Fiji early morning on June 6th (we had lost a day crossing the International Date Line)• Immediately board a 5 hour bus to the country’s capital, Suva
Suva• Arrive in Suva in the early afternoon, check into our hotel and explore a bit• Spend one night in the city, souvenir shopping, having dinner at a restaurant, and stopping at an internet café• The next morning we had a chance to learn more about Fijian culture by visiting the National Fiji Museum and seeing some architecture• Early that afternoon, we packed our things, and left Suva to head to the village that would be our home for the next while
Our Village – Sawa Kasa/Burerua• The village we stayed in was made up of two parts, one called Sawa Kasa, and one called Burerua• Before entering the village, the girls were told that while we were there we needed to wear long skirts at all times in the village• They welcomed us with a ceremony in the community hall including flower garnishes, traditional dancing, beverages, and a huge feast• We were paired off and introduced to our host family, whose house we would be staying at and who would become like a second family to us This was our first experience with their native food, it included a lot of roots and leaves of the native plants. The food took some getting used to, but not nearly as much as their sacred drink, kava. Kava looks like dirty water, tastes like dirty water, numbs your mouth and makes you drunk and dopey, but it is used in every special ceremony and it is considered an insult to the people not to partake. Bottoms up!
Our Work in the Community• We spent our time working at the local school, where my “dad” worked as a teacher and where my “sister” attended first grade• We helped by teaching English, painting and renovating the classrooms, and installing rain water catchments to provide the village with freshwater• We also had chances to play games with the kids outside, and help in science projects (who could find and catch the most bugs!)
Entertainment• Each night, the entire village (except for the young kids who were in bed) gathered in the community hall to “socialize”. This normally only happens on holidays and special days but while we were there, this happened every night.• The socializing involved sitting together, talking and traditional (and also a little non traditional) dancing, all while drinking lots of kava late into the night• When we were finished our work for the day or were given time off, we took “showers” in the river (using biodegradable soaps of course), and took a taxi bus into the nearest town to shop, buy snacks and use the internet• One night I asked my “mom” if she would teach me how to make a traditional Fijian food called bubakau (basically fried bread)• A group of us also spent one night in the local pub in town, ordering somewhat more recognizable food and having a few drinks
My family/ Our farewell• Throughout the week, I became very close with my host family• My father, Tevita the teacher, my mother Nanise, my little sister, Rusila, and my baby brother, Joji• The home I stayed in was one of the nicest in the town, since my father earned good money as a teacher, however it still lacked any luxuries that I was used to in Canada• On our last day there, we spent the evening socializing in the hall as usual, only this time there was a sense of sadness in the air• Each family gave their students a traditional Fijian outfit and an elaborate floral garnish as a farewell gift• We all drank a lot of kava and spent our last time with our families• The entire town sang us a farewell song in their native language, singing “We will miss you, we will miss you”• Leaving the village was hard after being so completely accepted and loved, and I miss my Fijian family every day
Heading to the Islands• After the farewell, we boarded an overnight bus to the boat port near Nadi• We boarded the boat, and travelled to the Yasawa Islands• We spent the next 5 days island hopping, staying at 3 different resorts on 3 different islands
The Island Life - Daytime• The days on the islands consisted mostly of relaxing, tanning, swimming and enjoying the immense beauty of the place and the sunny weather• There were many activities available at the different resorts, including making jewellery out of coconut shells, snorkelling, scuba diving and cave diving• At each resort we took some time to explore the islands as well, hiking through the lush greenery to different beaches and hidden spots• The group spent time getting to know each other, and grew closer during this time
The Island Life – Nighttime• The nights on the islands were a time to unwind, to kick back and go a little wild• Me performing in thewhole group would hang out, and each resort had different After dinner the talent show nighttime events: group dancing and games, traditional fire dancers, a talent show, and beach bonfire parties• We liked to have a few drinks together at night, and enjoyed this chance to get to know everyone and just have a blast!
When it was all said and done…• Finally, it came time for us to pack our bags and head home• The last view I had of beautiful Fiji was the sun setting over the water, as we sailed away from paradise• We were all sad to be leaving, but we were so happy to have made such amazing memories and friends that will last a lifetime
What this trip meant to me• Having never travelled anywhere too far before, and never having taken a flight overseas, this was a chance for me to spread my wings and begin to discover the world. I felt empowered in accomplishing this on my own.• This trip also gave me a great sense of personal fulfillment. I had travelled to a new place and been emerged in the culture. I had helped people in need on the other side of the world, and seen the smile on their faces. It made me incredibly happy.• Finally, I gained so much more than I spent on this trip. The time, money, and effort I put in seemed like nothing in light of the lifelong relationships I established. I now have close friends around the world. But most special to me was my second family, who took me in and showed me so much love, and who I will forever feel a special connection with.• I hope to one day have a chance to go back to the place that changed my life - Fiji
I hope you enjoyed learning about My FijiAdventures! I encourage you all to go andexperience your own adventures