I chose GVI's Diving and Marine Conservation program in Fiji because I didn't know what I wanted to do after college. I had randomly ran into GVI during my senior year and was mindlessly clicking through all of their incredible volunteer opportunities. For some reason, the Diving and Marine Conservation program really stuck out to me. Being in Iowa, I am not anywhere close to the ocean. I absolutely love diving whenever I travel and so I took a leap of faith and clicked "YES".
Olivia is a fun-loving adventurer who loves to get out of her comfort zone. She is currently working in marketing for her family's 105 year old construction company.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
I had actually applied through another volunteer organization called GoEco that connected me to GVI. I worked with GoEco throughout the entire process and there were no problems at all. GoEco gave me all the important GVI information and forms I needed to complete, they answered all of my questions and helped the application/acceptance process go very smoothly. The only things I had to organize on my own were flights and any other travel plans I wanted to do outside of my volunteering.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I wish I would have known how fun it was going to be! I had never signed up for a volunteer trip before so I had no idea what to expect. Being hesitant, I only signed up for a month-long trip. I wish I would've done 2-3 months the first time!
I eventually signed up for one more month after I had returned home after my first month but if I would've known how incredible the experience was going to be, I would've signed up for the 2 month trip in the first place. My advice for anyone going into the program would be to keep an open mind. Take pride that you are putting yourself out there and be confident in your decision!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
The Diving and Marine Conservation trip in Fiji keeps you pretty busy. Our main work days were Monday-Thursday. You wake up at either 6 a.m. or 6:30 a.m. Monday-Friday to perform your daily duties. These duties include making breakfast, cleaning the island, cleaning the bathrooms or loading the boats. Then, you eat breakfast and get geared up to go diving or snorkeling to collect data from the reefs. After lunch and a few more of the activities listed above, it's time for evening duties followed by dinner. In this program, you have your weekends free (starting Friday afternoon after morning duties and activities), giving you the freedom to explore neighboring islands or simply relax on beautiful Caqalai island!
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
Honestly, I didn't have any fears about going to my volunteer program. I believe that I was more anxious than fearful. I was anxious because I had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting myself into. It was my first time traveling by myself to a different country across the world. I had no idea what to expect. But I just put one foot in front of the other and made the best out of every opportunity. And it completely paid off!
"Going to Fiji was completely life-changing. I wouldn't trade my experiences, my fears, my anxiety for anything. "
Before I went to Fiji, I had no knowledge of marine conservation because I never grew up around the ocean. After being in Fiji, I have noticed just how horrible we treat the ocean. Plastic pollution is a HUGE issue and to personally see it affect the marine ecosystem was a real eye-opener.
"Now, all I want to do is educate people about plastic pollution and how it's negatively affecting oceans around the world. I came back home with a brand new perspective and respect for marine life and conservation."