What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Think Pacific were incredibly helpful in offering advice on fundraising to contacts for booking flights and insurance. Whenever you had a query they were always an email or phone call away to sort it out.
You had to organize fundraising yourself which seems daunting but once I got started it was fine. I ended up doing a few bake sales, working and handing out letters to companies to sponsor me.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
One piece of advice I would give is enjoy yourself. It goes incredibly quick and there were definitely moments that I didn’t look at the bigger picture. Have fun and enjoy your experience. The more you put into it, the more you will get out.
I would also say start fundraising as soon as possible and then it won’t seem like such a big task. Saving a few pounds a week also adds up quickly and you soon will reach your goals.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
An average day was wake up at 7am. Get changed and have breakfast with your family and then go down for briefing with your team leaders.
You will then get to school for 9am (depends on the village) and start teaching. You may be doing English, maths, science etc and you can be teaching in the classroom or doing 1 to 1 lessons depending on what’s needed/ what you are comfortable with.
You will then have lunch at around 12pm and then after lunch you teach house cup which is extra-curricular activities such as art, dance, singing which the kids won’t have really experienced before making it even more rewarding. After house cup you then teach sports for the afternoon and normally finish around 4pm ready for the children to get buses home.
You then get home and shower and have dinner with your family. After dinner there will normally be an activity organized by your leader such as traditional basket weaving, bilo making, dancing, kava drinking or something simple like a games night or going for dinner at another persons house. Afterwards you would head to bed ready for a new day.
The weekend is slight different. On Saturday is expedition day so your leaders will have organized an activity such as a hike, caving, a boat trip etc. depending on where you are based and things to do around your village. These are great bonding days for your team and incredible experiences.
On Sunday it is the day of rest in most of the villages so you will attend church with your family and sometimes eat in the hall with lots of other families who you have been at church with.
You may not be religious but this is a chance to hear the incredible Fijian singing which makes your hair stand on end as well as a time to reflect on your week!
In the afternoons you will have a 1 to 1 meeting with one of your leaders to check in on how you are doing and to talk through any issues you are facing and then after dinner you will have briefing ready for the week. In this briefing you will decide which class you want to teach as well as what sport you want to coach and you will also find out what you are doing in house cup and in the evenings during the week and Saturday.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was not getting along with my partner who I was living in a family with or not getting along with my group. Both of these fears disappeared when I got to know both my team and my partner.
Within the first couple of days me and my partner bonded immensely and she was definitely a massive part of my experience. The same with my team. Although it took me a while to get to know everyone, we soon became very close knit and became a family
Write and answer your own question.
Is there anything I would have done different?
I think looking back in hindsight, firstly I wouldn’t have played the netball match on the first day where I fell over and broke my foot! But I think I mostly would have appreciated the opportunity I was getting to stay in a Fijian village and I would have made the most of every experience whether it be staying out later each night with the village or just staying and talking to my Fijian mum and dad. It was an amazing experience that went in a flash so I would recommend making the most of it!