Alumni Spotlight: Natalie Hager

Natalie is from North Dakota and volunteered through GVI in January & February of 2012. She recently received her bachelor's degree for Psychology and will begin working towards a degree in Naturopathy in the fall of 2012. She enjoys kayaking, hiking, biking, and being outdoors in general.

Tropical Paradise

Morning: A typical base morning at Nanuya (GVI Fiji) meant waking with the sunrise, unless your team was on breakfast duty; the breafast team wakes an hour earlier. A simple breakfast is shared, usually porridge and fruit, which is served with hot water for tea or coffee. The volunteers break off into groups based on their area of work and have a morning meeting to discuss plans for the day. Shortly thereafter, the groups head out by boat for the days work.

Afternoon: As a childcare volunteer, my afternoons involved working in the surrounding villages at our makeshift summer school. During the school year, afternoons are spent at school on a neighboring island. After school there is a quick boat trip back to base and then a meeting to debrief on the day's work, and making plans for the next day. The meetings don't last terribly long, which means lots of beach time and relaxing before supper!

Evening: The evenings are mainly for your own personal enjoyment. If your team has kitchen duty for the day, you will prepare a meal for the whole camp. Usually towards the tail end of dinner, the base leader will have a quick meeting to discuss anything that needs to be addressed. After supper is more time for you. Many volunteers enjoy playing games together, swimming and catching some sun, reading, or wandering over to the resort on the other side of the island.

A gift for Natalie.

Highlights: The highlight of my volunteer experience was meeting with the people of the islands and hearing how happy they are that the organization is there to offer their assistance. Every islander I came across had a smile to share and a welcoming "Bula!". Many times the village would prepare lunch and invite us to join them.

The children love the GVI volunteers and want to teach you things about their world, and are enthusiastic about learning about your world too. It really does provide a deep sense of satisfaction to know that something you are doing is directly enhancing someone's life. The highlight of the trip to Fiji in general had to be the water and sands. The beaches are pristine and the water is a beautiful clear turquoise, perfect for snorkeling!