Debbie – Fiji

I chose to go on a gap year because of wanting a break from education but I didn’t really decide to go to Fiji…it was more accidental. I saw a Lattitude Global Volunteering stand at a UCAS day and picked up a leaflet, I then had a look online and applied to see what it was about and before I knew it I was on the placement to go to Fiji!

First things first: I absolutely love Fiji! I had the time of my life in so many ways and had so many experiences I wouldn’t otherwise have had.

Arriving was amazing, we saw the sun rise out of the plane window and were welcomed by singing and dancing from Fijians in the airport, all with flowers in their hair, it seemed magical!After a three day orientation a small fishing boat took me and my volunteer partner across the sea to the village of Uluibau on Motoriki. The island looked stunning!

White beaches and palm trees; just what I would have imagined traditional Fiji to look like.The volunteering role was teaching in the local village school which had eight classes but just three teachers.

The first week I woke up every morning nervous and scared but always went to bed with the biggest smile on my face and from then on I never looked back. I gained confidence over time and attempted different lessons including sciences and first aid. Outside of school I spent most of my time with the villagers, who became my family and friends; they now mean the world to me.

Whilst I was there a good Fijian friend got married and asked me to be her bridesmaid; I have never been so pleased or honoured at such a request. To have been there such a small amount of time but to have become so significant in her life was so moving. The wedding ceremony was massive, all the villagers came – the church was overflowing!
The celebrations went on for days with big feasts happening all the time. That is the one big thing I can say about the Fijians they do just enjoy life!

When it came to leaving a I was just devastated. All my Fijian family came to wave me off at the airport; they meant so much to me and I didn’t know how long it would be before I got the opportunity to see them next. The first thing I did when I got back to the UK was book flights back to Fiji!

I truly believe you get out of something what you put into it……and even though you go with the idea of helping someone else, I think you get as much from the experience as they do, if not more.