Freedom High School graduate ventures into teaching special needs children by volunteering in Fiji
Abigayle Zimmerman (18) decided to travel to Fiji with Projects Abroad to volunteer at their Care Project for three months. She chose to work with children as she hopes to pursue a career in teaching special needs children.
Abigayle’s placement was at Hilton Intervention School in Suva which caters for special needs children. Daily tasks would include singing and doing arts and crafts with the children, as well as teaching them skills.
“Devotion and music was conducted in the mornings, followed by skills time where we would do threading or puzzles,” Abigayle shared. “We would then move to arts and crafts so I’d help them color within the lines. Lunch would be at 12 o’clock and I would also help with lunch because some of them were unable to feed themselves,” she added. Volunteers are appreciated at the school, as there are many children who require attention. “There are about five teachers and 50 kids with severe disabilities who require individual attention, so any extra hands are a big help for the kids,” said Abigayle.
There is a big culture difference between the USA and Fiji, but this didn’t faze Abigayle, “I loved the cultural difference. I had a really good host family and they
included me in everything such as family reunions and social gatherings. I felt like I went all over the place there and I loved it,” she enthused.
The highlight of her experience was establishing a relationship with her host family. “My best experience would be meeting my host family because they were so wonderful. I was sick a few times and being far away from my family was not a problem as my host family filled in pretty well, making sure I got better,” she shared. “I really felt like I was part of the family. They really made my whole experience amazing.”
Abigayle believes that her active involvement with the locals and volunteers was an advantage during her time in Fiji. “My advice to future volunteers is to get involved as much as you can. Attend socials and make an effort to interact with locals.”
“Before I came to Fiji, I only knew people from America; now I have friends in Fiji and all over Europe and Australia. So now I feel like I have more support when I go somewhere,” she added.
“When you live in such a developed country everything is superficial and coming to Fiji was a nice break from it all. I got to learn and dig into a new culture and learn about them and also about myself,” she added.
Abigayle shared her last words about volunteering in Fiji with Projects Abroad: “Fiji is amazing and there is so much to do and so many places you can help. Everything is just beautiful, no matter where you are in Fiji.”