Alumni Spotlight: Gwen Coe

Why did you decide to volunteer with Projects Abroad in Fiji?

Gwen: I wanted to volunteer in a place furthest away from home as possible. I typed in what organisations worked in Fiji and by chance Projects Abroad came up. I was very happy with what they were offering so didn't even think twice about looking for something else.

Gwen showing off her new Fiji pride

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Gwen: I'd wake up at half six, be out of the house by half 7 and be at the school by quarter/half past eight. I would start by assisting the Math class until recess, which is when I would go outside and do some fun activities. After recess I would lead the English class, which would take us up to lunch. Some days I finished at midday, other afternoons I was required to stay longer. Every Wednesday afternoon I would lead an art and craft class, which the Head Teacher and students absolutely loved.

When I finished work I would either go meet some of my fellow volunteers to put my feet up at the pool or the beach, visit a local friend I had made, take my little host sister out, or just sit and have a chat whilst drinking tea with my host mum and dad. There would always be something going in the evenings that some of the other volunteers would organize, but I usually spent my evenings drinking the traditional Fijian drink Kava! It was a brilliant way of socializing and meeting new locals and gave you a chance to listen to their stories and experiences.

Gwen with some of the local children she met in Fiji

How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?

Gwen: Personally this experience has opened my eyes to so many doors to my future that I hadn't seen before. It has completely changed my life and it is naive to say it, but it did. The locals I met there taught me so much, supported my ideas and goals and opened my eyes to new opportunities. Academically, my dear class I was teaching, also taught me. Their laughter, content smiles and friendly gestures are pure, and they have no doubt changed me and will be a part of me forever.