Alumni Spotlight: Astie Bolton


Astie is a physiotherapist in the NHS who spent 2 summers volunteering in Fiji with Think Pacific before he graduated.

Why did you choose this program?

The first time was pure luck! I googled 'Rugby' and 'Pacific Islands', and Think Pacific popped up. After doing my research, looking at their website, blogs, and social media, and speaking to the team, I knew it was perfect for me.

I enjoyed the first time so much that I couldn't wait to go back. It was - cliché alert - the best experience of my life! When I was given the opportunity to go back last summer on a different project, I jumped at the chance, and never looked back.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Think Pacific offers you loads of advice. After signing up, you get a call with one from the UK team who will give you a detailed breakdown of what to expect, and you can ask any question.

They also help you out with booking your travel, and advise you to use STA because they’re so used to dealing with Think Pacific volunteers. You are also given plenty of written information on what to pack, fundraising, travel advice, etc.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Go out and embrace every second! Again, it probably sounds really cliché but you don't want to leave with any regrets.

In the villages, you will live as part of a family. Your Fijian 'parents' may be fishermen or farmers, and offer you the chance to go out on the boats or visit the plantation. Make sure you say yes! Check with your leaders first, but really make the effort to live like a Fijian.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Once you land, you have a couple of days in a resort where you can prepare for the project. On project, you will spend Monday-Friday in the school.

In the mornings, it's teaching; the team splits up, often into pairs, and you take out small groups of children to help with their English and Maths. After lunch, you have house cup (like music, dance or arts) and sports, which is usually the highlight of the day.

The evenings are more flexible. You may have structured events, or you might just have some chill/family time. At weekends, you get the opportunity to explore on Saturday, and relax on Sunday.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

It was quite daunting arriving into a group full of strangers. Luckily now, lots of groups are university-based so you have the opportunity to meet some of your peers before you go to the airport.

I was the last one of our group to arrive, but everyone is out there for the experience; you all have a very similar mindset, so it's not hard to make friends and start sharing stories.