Monday, 27 July 2015

Fiji First Impressions

PROJECT: Teaching
WRITTEN BY: Issy Steadman

Stepping off the plane and straight into the humid winds of the Fijian islands was a very welcome change from the chilly Australian winter we had just left behind. Walking through the arrivals gate we were giddy for our Fijian expedition to begin and when we saw the lovely Shabreen waiting for us we couldn't believe it was finally time to start this long awaited adventure.

Out first hours in Fiji were spent at the combined birthday birthday party of our host brother and his cousin. The party meant lots and lots of food, including our first taste of kasava, a traditional Fijian root. Not only did we meet Miss Fiji, but we also got to experience a traditional Kava ceremony whilst looking out over the sunset on sleeping giants mountain range.

Monday meant orientation time, so in the morning Shabreen picked us up from our host family to set out and see the sites and what the beautiful city of Nadi had to offer. This orientation included meeting the headmasters of our placement schools, experiencing the over crowded buses and digging into some traditional curries.

On Monday night our host parents welcomed Shabreen and the other antipodeans girls, as well as some of their own friends, to a kava ceremony in their home. The ceremony involved learning about the traditional distribution of kava and the rituals that occur when consuming it, and it's safe to say that after two nights of kava, the taste is growing on us.

Our first day at the Nadi Special School involved meeting and interacting with the students and teachers. At times we were left alone in classes with students which was rather overwhelming but a great experience all together. Each day our role in the classroom is becoming more significant and the students have come to rely on us. Friday afternoons at Nadi Special School mean sports afternoon for the whole school and we have found that we are no match for the students in the soccer, volleyball or badminton games.

So far afternoons have involved trips to Denarau to take advantage of the many glamorous resorts and soak up the last of the Fijian sun before jumping on the peak hour bus and heading home to our wonderful host families. Our host family have been incredibly welcoming, their three children always keeping us entertained and the beautiful food our host mother makes is a welcome surprise to our taste buds.

Friday evening involved spending the evening at smugglers cove to eat by the sea and enjoy the local entertainment. An early start on Saturday morning saw us trekking to a hidden waterfall through an inland village, in the sleeping giants mountain range, whose name can be translated to "I'll be back".

The morning was spent swimming in the fresh water and jumping off waterfalls, while lunch was a more relaxed affair, enjoying traditional Fiji food inthe hut of a local village. The afternoon consisted of zip lining through the sleeping giant and horseback riding on the dirt tracks and heading to the Sabeto springs, where we bathed in mud and a 72 degree hot water spring.

The Fijians we have met so far are such beautiful people and as we walk through the streets each day we are greeted by a "Bula" from every direction. Even though it's the very start of our time here, we already feel like locals and know our time here will speed by so to not take for granted the remaining three short weeks we have left.

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