Victoria Greenhalgh - Volunteering in Fiji
"I’m sure everyone would agree to say that the three weeks you spend teaching the children will be the most rewarding weeks of your life."
My time in Fiji
Volunteering in Nasivikoso has made me understand the cultural differences between the UK and Fiji despite it being a former British colony. The way the people within the rural communities live as opposed to how even the poorest families in the UK live, is a substantial comparison. Factors contributing to this include technology and more importantly, tradition. In Fiji, the more fortunate kids do not necessarily belittle those who may be less fortunate. In fact, they live on a ‘what’s mine is yours’ basis which sadly, is not quite the case in the UK. They don’t quite understand what is meant by a personal belonging, which I discovered one day when I found my Fijian sister walking around wearing my silver watch.
Because of the lack of technology, it was amazing to see how much they appreciate the smallest things. Everything that they have is so basic. It made me realise so much about myself. I grew up in a household where I thought my life was so unfair because my parents couldn’t afford the nicest toys or clothes for me despite trying their best. I’d want every teddy bear I saw. The Fijians don’t even have anything close to the things I had as a child, they were so amazed when I bought them a magic piano. The fact that they thought it was appropriate to play with it on full blast at 6am every morning just goes to show that they aren’t familiar with technology like that. The overall concept quite saddens me – that children in our society today will play with iPads and games consoles whereas in Fiji, even the wealthy families will still play their own made-up games in their free time.
The hardest part I faced out there was trying to not give up. I had to constantly keep pushing myself to step out of my comfort zone and do things that I’d never thought I’d do – and things that people still don’t even believe I’ve done. Things like climbing a mountain, sharing a room with rats, eating food I didn’t like and having cold showers every single day. For someone like me, the whole expedition was a HUGE challenge. However, it was so worth it. The moral of the story here is to not limit yourself as to what you can do.
The best part of volunteering with Think Pacific has to be the special bond you create with the kids that you teach, whether it be kindergarten (the class I taught) or classes 1-8. I personally feel that if you choose to commit to a project like this, you must be ready to face the ups and downs ahead of you. I’m sure everyone would agree to say that the three weeks you spend teaching the children will be the most rewarding weeks of your life, but the day you pack your bags and say goodbye could be the most upsetting experience.
I can’t stress enough that if you are able to volunteer in Fiji, please DO! You’ll genuinely make friends and memories for life. As a Law student, I feel as though it has impacted on my studies in many ways.