Volunteer Review: Kevin S., Teach English and Other Subjects in Fiji
My name is Kevin S., and I’m a recent university graduate from Canada. After graduating with a degree in science, I decided I wanted to take a year off before I started a job at home. I wanted to do some traveling in my year off, but rather than just backpack around aimlessly, I decided a few months helping out and really immersing myself in a different culture would be the best way to see and experience a new country.
I then serendipitously came across the Projects Abroad website and the south pacific looked like a perfect destination. For this reason, I chose Fiji as my destination for volunteer work, and the rest is history.
Volunteer Teaching in Fiji
I was in Fiji for 2 months as a teacher at Nadi District School and Nadi Airport School. It was an amazing experience! Everything from my warm and homely host family, to my fun and diverse group of coworkers exceeded my expectations. Every week at school was interesting and exciting; watching as the kids developed an understanding of the concepts I was teaching them.
I spent my lunch hours teaching them cool magic tricks, playing rugby with them, or telling them stories about my home country, Canada. Seeing their faces when I explained such foreign ideas as frozen lakes, or the leaves on the trees changing color was a priceless experience that actually taught me a lot about the beauty of things I considered so normal. Overall, the kids were great and the teacher I worked with was fantastic!
Not only was the teacher I worked alongside with a great coworker, but she was also a great friend to have, as she taught me a lot about Fiji, and also set me up with some cool opportunities to travel and see some interesting things. She set me up with two school trips with other classes, where I got to meet Fijian kids from different classes and in different age groups. These trips were one of the greatest learning experiences of my life.
Fiji – beyond the tourist experience
I saw things that a tourist in this beautiful country would never see. I had a picnic in the jungle somewhere in the middle of the island, where we ate traditional food and sipped on traditional drinks (the cava… which if you go to Fiji you will be sure to learn all about). I saw other schools around the island, visited some of the student’s and teacher’s home villages, and witnessed how unbelievably family oriented this culture was.
Distant relatives, who in North America I wouldn’t even really consider relatives, are treated as brothers and sisters. Even random strangers are regarded with such a generous respect, that if you were to compliment someone’s shirt, they would literally take it off their back to give to you. I watched them fish for their dinner, walk over an hour to their banana plantations, and spend an entire afternoon playing touch rugby.
I realized that these were people living with next to zero dollars’ worth of material assets, and yet I could feel the overall environment and community was happier than most groups of people in the developed countries I’ve visited. It was a romantically humbling experience, one that really forced me to reevaluate my North American views of material items, and from this I’m sure I came home a much different person.
Traveling with other volunteers
After each week of work, the weekends were always exciting, as the volunteers would always get together and plan some sort of unique and entertaining excursion. By the end of my two months, I had spent weekends at resorts on the main island, resorts in the Yasawa Islands, on boats out sailing or surfing around the unbelievable reefs, or at the infamous Beachcomber Island.
Each weekend was more fun than the last, and the relationships I built with my fellow volunteers were amazing. I now know people in many different countries around the world, and I’ve already met up with some of them since Fiji. The experience was a perfect blend of carefree fun in the sun, mixed with rewarding work, which I hope made a difference in many people’s lives. I know it made a huge difference in mine.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.