I am in my final year at Sweet Briar College located in Amherst, Virginia (USA). I am an Elementary Education major and I am being certified in Special Education. For my required Education Internship, I wanted to go abroad to a fascinating country with a unique culture.
With a little research, I came across Projects Abroad and their placement in Fiji. The staff were incredibly friendly and quick to respond to my needs required for academic credit. Before I left, I felt confident in the work I would be doing and I never felt as though I would be lost or confused on where to go or what to do when I arrived in Fiji.
My teaching placement
I was placed in Nadi, Fiji at the Nadi Airport School. My host family, Shabreen, Tufel, and Tashkeel, were Indian and lived within walking distance of the school. They made me feel welcome and safe in their home. They were even kind enough to throw me a little party for my 21st birthday! I quickly fell in love with the friendly people and of course the Indian cuisine.
The Airport School was also very welcoming and flexible in accommodating my specific needs with my internship. I was placed in Class 1 with 35 students. At first it was a little challenging because I wasn’t used to such large classrooms. After familiarising myself with the students and their abilities and needs, I was able to feel more comfortable with the students and how to manage them and work with them effectively.
With my internship, I was required to teach three lessons individually, as a small group, or with the entire class. I choose to do all three options. From home, I brought along alphabet learning cards, number learning cards, and various school supplies such as paper, stickers, erasers, coloured chalk, and popsicle sticks. The students loved when I gave out the erasers and stickers (great incentives!). The learning cards were very helpful when working individually with students who were struggling in those areas.
My favourite lesson was when I taught them about multiculturalism. They learned a song about accepting differences and loving everyone. I also learned a great deal of the Fijian, Rotuman, Indian, and Korean cultures as I had my students do a drawing on something important in their culture and explain it to me. I love looking back on their work; they are so creative!
My free time in Fiji
Outside of school, Projects Abroad provides many opportunities for you to meet with other volunteers. Weekly, Projects Abroad would set up a social event at a popular local restaurant for volunteers to meet for dinner. My first social took place at Smugglers Cove where we ate dinner and watched a fire dance. They also did a social at a local art centre where we did our own weaving, pottery making, and tapa cloth printing. It was really interesting to learn about the Fijian art.
On weekends, volunteers were free to do what they wanted. I tried to do as much as I could but I was only in Fiji for five weeks. During my free time I was able to visit two islands: Castaway and Yaswa. The Blue Lagoon Resort on the Yaswa Island was the best trip. We were only there for a short stay but they offered a lot of activities on the island. We were able to take a trip to a local village and attend their church service. It was quite fascinating to see how different the villages are from where I was staying. I also spent a lot of time in Nadi just going to different shops and, of course, the markets.
The five weeks I was in Fiji went by very fast. While there are many challenges you face in a new country, the experience I had was quite invaluable. The best advice I can share with you is to be open to trying new things. Don’t go expecting to live like you do at home because that won’t happen. Instead, embrace the new culture and do everything you can and everything you want to do. I learned so much about myself from this experience and I’ve even decided to earn TEFL certification so I will be able to travel and teach abroad as a career someday!
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. To find out more about what you can expect from this project we encourage you to speak to one of our friendly staff.