Staff blog: Teaching in Fiji

Teaching – whether it is your first time or not is not always easy. Teaching in another country where English is a foreign language is a challenge however, English is one of three official languages in Fiji and this makes teaching much easier. The other two official languages are Fijian and Hindi.

The children in the schools speak fluent English although not to the same standard as you would find in schools in England. All lessons apart from Hindi and Fijian will be taught in English so for first time teachers Fiji is a great idea because you don’t have to worry too much about a language barrier.

During the Hindi and Fijian lessons the students will always take up the opportunity to teach the volunteers as much as they can and it’s a great way to learn simple words and phrases to help you get around.

You can expect the teachers to encourage you to take you own classes and although at first it can be daunting it will feel so rewarding. The students will not always ask for help when they need it and like to pretend they understood everything which is not always the case and as teachers you don’t expect them to understand everything either and therefore it is important to encourage them to speak up and to talk with them in smaller groups to recognise what they do and don’t understand.

Students thrive off of positive feedback, any encouragement given whether it’s a “Good Work!” in their work books or a “Well Done!” after getting an answer correct, the change in their confidence is immediately noticeable and definitely makes a difference in the students attitudes towards learning.

Even if you feel you have taught one student something that will stick with them or made a difference to their leaning, it is a great feeling and working with the schools in such a friendly environment is something you won’t ever forget.

By Ria Billings, Teaching Coordinator

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.


Volunteer blog: First Day At School

The thought of a 20 minute walk to school up hill first thing in the morning did not sound appealing, however the beautiful views of the sea and rural areas definetly made it worth it while.

Our first class was 202. WOW what a very energetic and lively bunch of children. They were all very enthusiastic to get stuck in with the rugby and netball sessions we had planned for them. Despite the kids all looking very cute and innocent they are so mischievous which means you have to ensure that they are entertained at all times. Once the session was over the class refused to go back to normal lessons as they wanted to stay and play/talk to us.

After recess we had classes 802 and 803. Taking full advantage of having two classes together we decided to do a relay circuit against each other. All the kids were super excited and got stuck in straight away. When it came to me and Joe’s turn to do what ever activity they would all go crazy and cheer us on. The sprinting part of the relay was definitely enjoyed the most by the kids as it went on much longer then intended.

After an action packed morning we then had athletics training, as the school have their sports day coming up. Facing 80 over excited kids all ranging in age was a very daunting thought as first but it turned out to be a massive success. We had 5 different stations that the kids would move around. The stations included: Illinois test, shuttle runs, 100m sprints and change of direction runs. The kids thrived in all aspects of this session but they put extra effort into the Illinois and change of direction runs as they have never experienced this before.

I have to say it most definitely was the best first day at school I have ever had and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the week brings.

By Katie Vokes, Teaching Volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.


Volunteer Blog: Kajal

Kava is a type of root that is ground up and turned into liquid. The local Fijians call it “grog”. It is definitely an accustomed taste, but after being given bowl after bowl I can finally say I’m used to it! Kava has the ability to make your mouth go extremely numb and make you lethargic. This probably explains the idea of “Fiji time”.

The Kava ceremony is supposed to be used for welcoming and saying farewell, but a lot of Fijians just drink the root every night! Since volunteers are constantly coming and going here, this is something I get to experience a lot! We all dress up in our sulu’s (sarong) and go out to the “mango bar” (hut type area) and drink Kava until our mouth’s can’t take it anymore. It is definitely quite a unique ceremony, but I won’t give everything away because you might get to go to one!

I also got to go to a Fijian Village! It is easy to employ an ethnocentric mindset in our everyday lives because we are constantly surrounded by people that are just like us. However, this weekend I was pulled out of my ignorance and got to experience a completely different reality by going to Korovisilou Village.

Apart from having minimal electricity the people of the village live a simple life, and it was great seeing them so happy to be this way. The village was filled with kids running every which way and adults singing and drinking Kava. I realized that every one in the western world is given items that make our lives easier. For instance, shoes. No one in the village wears shoes unless they are going to work. I ended up giving my shoes to a friend I made, and tried to survive bare foot for some of the day. This was a big mistake as my sensitive british feet made me at least 5 paces behind at all times.

The whole experience made me feel very privileged to live where I do, but at the same time very envious at how happy these people can be without things we consider necessities. I wonder what would happen if people in England and America were stripped of all these things?

The volunteers and I also went to visit the local school, and had a swim in the river!

By Kajal, Journalism Volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.


Volunteer blog: Tori Leach

Definitely among the most amazing experiences I’ve had since arriving in Fiji was the day me and of the other volunteers spent the day at a high ropes centre in an idyllic setting in the beautiful Fijian countryside. The two best elements of it were undoubtedly the giant swing and the incredible 440m zip wire.

The giant swing was comprised of a wooden pole 15ft high which we had to climb by means of metal staples that protruded from its sides. At the top was a small metal platform which had railings on three sides, and the other side was where we had to jump from. When I reached the metal platform courage to jump off was hard to come by, but with a little (slightly sarcastic) encouragement from my friends, I jumped.

Of all the rides and roller coasters I’ve been on, none have given me an adrenaline rush like that giant swing did. I began to scream but the sound was torn away from me as I sped towards the dry earth in freefall, and it took seemingly forever for the upwards tension of the rope to pull on me, so that I felt like I would plummet to the ground with nothing to break my fall. After this initial descent I began to rise again, reaching the height of the forest canopy and levelling the tops of the surrounding palm trees, and after the heart-stopping moment of being completely stationary at that highest point of the arc, I began to accelerate down again, this time with my body facing the flawlessly blue sky. I screamed and laughed with utter exhilaration and gratitude that this moment had been accorded to me.

The zip wire took my breath away in a very different way. It was much slower at first than the giant swing, I suppose because of the friction between wire and harness, but I was glad of the more leisurely pace because it allowed me to make the most of my achingly beautiful surroundings. Layer upon layer of tree-covered mountains stretched away to my right, the nearer ones pine-green but dashed with yellow and white where the blazing sunlight proved too much for the wide tropical leaves to absorb and the distant ones hazy and blue, like a huge far-off fish in a vast expanse of ocean. Before me was a tranquil, shady valley that contrasted exquisitely with those majestic tree-lined hills. A shallow stream snaked through it and trees with bent boughs were clustered around its gentle banks, as if kneeling to drink from its cool crystal waters. Where there were no trees, there was grass which from my height seemed so perfect that it reminded me of a golf course I used to pass on my way back to from school. Here and there, a rustic bridge spanned the brook with sturdy, un-manicured logs that perfectly suited their surroundings. As I descended towards the tree tops, this wind whistling through my hair, I knew clearly that this was the most amazing thing that had ever happened to me. The exhilaration and gratitude flooded me again.

By Tori Leach, Journalism volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.


Teaching and Community Coordinator blog: Traditional Fijian Food and Delicacies

Cooking for the family is a responsibility that belongs to the women in the house. Most Fijian families will grow a lot of their own fruit and vegetables on their land; alternatively a market is never far from the local villages or cities.

A traditional Fijian breakfast could consist of any of the following; green bananas (*jaina), bread fruit (*uto), cassava soaked in water usually for 3 or 4 days before eating and vudi – known in Fiji as the eldest brother of the banana as it is bigger in size than a banana. The vudi would traditionally be cooked with coconut juice, the coconut will be scraped and then the vudi will be boiled with the coconut (*niu) shavings and coconut juice and salt is also added.

Lunch for traditional families will be cassava *(tavioka) boiled in water or coconut juice with dalo leaves (*rou rou). Meals are usually repetitive and contain the same ingredients. Meat and fish are generally only eaten with dinner. A typical Fijian dinner would include fish (*ika) which is boiled and then plated up with cassava (*tavioka) and dalo leaves (*rou rou). All types of seafood are usually eaten including clams (*vasua), shellfish (*vivili) and muscles (*kai), this would all be cooked in coconut milk (niu lolo).

Dessert is not often eaten but on occasions when it is you can expect to find fruit such as watermelon (*meleni), vudi – the eldest brother of the banana, orange (*moli) and pineapple.

A lot of food in Fiji now has a Hindi influence and Fijian homes will eat Daal (lentils), rice, roti, fish curry, vegetable curry and puri (deep fried roti).

*Fijian Translation

By Ria Billings, Teaching and Community Coordinator

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.


Teaching and Community Coordinator Blog: Drinking Kava

I have lost count of how many Kava ceremonies I have attended in Fiji but every one is unique. Whether it’s the taste of the kava, the array of colourful sulu’s or the people present Kava is always an interesting and culturally eye-opening experience.

Many Fijian’s will grow the kava root on their land and hand pound it, although this is usually the duty of a male. I’m convinced that behind every Fijian rugby player is an experienced kava pounder as it definitely takes muscles! The root once pounded makes a powder which is mixed with water. Fijian’s refer to a Kava ceremony as a Sevu Sevu. In a traditional family children aren’t allowed to drink kava until they turn 18.

The kava itself can be found in the Pacific Islands and is known for having a sedative effect as it is a natural anaesthetic. Although the effect is mild it will usually leave you with a numb tongue, funny taste in your mouth and you will usually have a good night sleep after a couple of bowls!

The actual taste of kava is something that can’t be described so I suppose you will just have to come to Fiji and experience it for yourself!

By Ria Billings, Teaching and Community Coordinator

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.


Volunteer Blog: Christine Deng

One of the best feelings is just waking up to find a meal laid out in front of you. The service on Fiji Airways was excellent.

So here I am on a plane thousands of miles above the Pacific Ocean heading to my first project volunteering abroad – alone. It was daunting at first as I made my way through various corridors and gates but I made it in the end!

Arrived safely in the home stay, Ria, the Frontier staff gave me a few medical and safety tests before proceeding to take me on a tour of the city. There was a clear progression of increasing development as we made our way deeper into the city centre. What surprised me was the 2 large shopping precincts reminding me that although Fiji is a developing country Suva is considered to be more industrialised than many of its neighbours.

There were many beggars in town and it tore my heart when I just ignored them and walk on. I was warned that any donation would attract unwanted attention. In Auckland it was a complete reversal, we were always encouraged to support those in need.

Returning home, I helped Mama and Master with the cooking. I found out that Master has a niece who lives in Auckland and teaches at one of the schools. Dinner was more processed than I expected.

The next day was my first day at Dudley Intermediate School! The kids or just the boys are rowdy and difficult to control; the girls on the other hand were absolutely angelic. Mrs Ravoka was very sweet and encouraged me to teach the class. I taught them a signature dance that is very dear to me and was absolutely delighted when they followed suit. During my story session all the kids listened intently – it left me with a special feeling. I can’t wait to prepare for the next class.

By Christine Deng, Teaching Volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.


Teaching and community coordinator blog: 10 things to do in suva

1) Colo-I Suva Forest Park and waterfalls
If you head in a taxi for about 30 minutes out of the centre of Suva you can this incredible protected forest park which is home to 13 endemic species of bird. The vegetation is lush and typical of Fiji. By the waterfalls you can find a rope swing and experience the cool refreshing pools and enjoy pool hopping.

2) Cinema, village 6 and Damodar City
A cinema ticket at Village 6 in Suva costs $6.50FJD and on Tuesday only $5FJD. Cinemas in Fiji receive movies before England do which is fantastic!

3) Swimming at the Holiday Inn or Olympic swimming pool
Although Suva is about a 45 minute bus journey from a beach there are swimming pools located in Suva for you to relax by after a long hot day in the capital city.

4) Internet Café
If you’re missing home or just want to check on your facebook then the internet café is the place to go!

5) Flea market & the arts and crafts market
This is where you can buy a sulu from $5FJD for your kava ceremonies.

6) Watch a live rugby game
At the ANZ stadium you can watch Fiji play other countries at rugby from $5FJD!
7) Shopping
In the centre of Suva there are a couple of big shopping centres, MHCC and Tapoo City. These both have clothing stores, souvenirs and food courts. There is also an amazing view from the top of Tapoo which is definitely worth checking out!

8) Zumba
If you’re a fitness fanatic then you’re not going to want to miss Zumba which takes place at the civic centre on Mondays and Wednesday and only costs $1FJD! You’d be crazy not to go!

9) Gym
There are a couple of gyms located in Suva for you to stay fit while away from home.

10) The Fiji Museum
This holds archaeological material dating back a whopping 3,700 years back! This is a fantastic place to learn about Fijian history and culture.

By Ria Billings, Teaching and Community Coordinator

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Fiji.