Health and Safety
Gray's Fiji Time!
Submitted by Gray - Sydney | November 08, 2015
My 3 weeks in Fiji of September 2015 was an absolute eye opener! I regretfully did not get bitten by the travel bug as early as the majority of my friends did, preferring to work and make gains in my career. I did however make it along to 2 Contiki Trips in the last 3 years, and had a blast.... But nothing has come close to the rewarding & fulfilling time I spent in Fiji just two months ago.
The prospect of volunteer work was suggested to me by a close friend, something which had always been "on my radar" but never at the forefront of my mind when limited holiday time was available to me. I thank my lucky stars that my mindset has changed so dramatically, as giving up my time & working towards the betterment & education of children has been a real shock to my system, in the most incredible of ways. I'm proud to say that I'm already making plans for volunteering at a USA summer camp next year :)
My mornings were spent playing games with the children, and helping them with basic numeracy & alphabet skills. During my time, our themes were "Fire" & "Octopus", which bought about some rapid Googling & Youtubing to find some innovative songs to teach! Crèche paper & wild n wacky dance moves ensued, and soon we had the renovation team working outside our classroom singing our Firefighter song as well! :D The videos of myself & the 2 lovely women I worked alongside, leading these songs & teaching the words to the kids, hold a special place on my phone & hard drive back ups, proof of some real "getting back to being a kid" fun :)
Painting, Duck Duck Goose, Chalk Board Games (and trying to avoid chalk board duster arguments between the kids!), lots of singing & dancing, see saw's and swing sets, & puppet shows only scratch the surface of our day to day's, with each new hour in the classroom bringing me something else to have a quiet chuckle about. I also never thought I would be called "Teacher" in my lifetime, which towards the end began to feel so normal to me.
The icing on the cake for me was the people I met. To be in a group of like minded souls, all with their own reasons for being there, was a true treat. Germans, Americans, Canadians, A New Zealand Room Mate (as they were getting ready to win the Rugby Wold Cup!), Poms, Austrians & a very cool Frenchman :D... the list is Endless. Our weekly ritual of drinks & clubbing at our spot "Bad Dog Café" in Suva was some of the most fun I've ever had, not only for the cheap drinks & casual dress policy, but for the amazing Fiji Bitter beer that I still miss! LOL. Endless video's and photos documented our times out together, combined with our weekend island getaways, afternoon chill out sessions in the TV room, DVD nights / Movie nights in Suva, day trips around town, volleyball games, work out sessions, deep & meaningful life conversations, listening to foreign languages (& getting taught all the bad words), and some seriously competitive "friendly" card games! Ha-ha. To simply write about it could never do it justice, as I would need to attempt to write 100 pages at least. It had to be lived & witnessed to be truly appreciated. A cliché yes, but so true.
I thank the modern times of all the latest technology for giving us the resources to still be in contact with each other, as to lose touch with all these wonderful people would be devastating. Plans are already in motion for a variety of reunions all over the world!!
I cant thank the wonderful staff at Green Lion enough, who are the on site support team, for their amazing hospitality. I have never heard people laugh more often than them, and it was infectious! From their orientation to Fiji, to assistance with getting around Suva, as well as the help they provided me in the classroom itself, was invaluable. To the team at IVHQ, my highest praise is to say that I definitely will be back, as you made the whole process such a pleasure. Dealing with a few other similar agencies almost put me off the experience altogether, but with Hannah & the team, there never once was any pressure to make decisions, but rather just detailed information, laying out all my options before me. I even received an email at the conclusion of my first week to check in and confirm that everything was going ok!
To anyone reading this, I sincerely hope that my words above truly convey just how much this trip meant to me, as well as the amount I received from it.... not just the heart warming encounters with amazing kids, or friends around the world that I have no doubt will play a big part in my life.... but the knowledge that when I look back in the years to come I can safely say to myself that I took a leap to give the most valuable resource any of us will ever have.... time.... and I put it to what I deem as the best use possible in this world.
With Kindest Regards,
Sydney Australia 2015
International Volunteer HQ responded to this review February 08, 2016 at 2:07 PM
Hi Gray, thanks for taking the time to write such a great review on our volunteer program in Fiji. We’re happy to hear that you felt well supported by our team, and that you’ve made new lifelong friends. We’d love to have you join us again soon!