Anna Harris - Teaching English & Other Subjects in Fiji
In September 2011 I made a big decision to pack up my suitcase and head to the other side of the world. With no idea what to expect and having never traveled alone I was nervous and excited about what I had signed up for. I left London on the 1st September and after 27 long hours of traveling, I arrived in Fiji. I was met by a few other volunteers that had arrived at the same time.
My Fijian Family – Chef Shailini
I remember being in the car on the way to my host family wondering if I had made a big mistake, when I arrived at my new home I was met by Shailini (my host mum) who after 10 minutes put my worries at ease. I have to say Shailini, Kartic (Fijian host brother) and Katrin (volunteer host sister) were one of my highlights of Fiji. Shailini was very relaxed which helped me to feel at home when I was so far away from my family. I hope at some point in the future I can get back over to Fiji to see them again; they made my trip the best it could have possibly been.
Teaching placement at the school
My first day at my school was one I will never forget. I was placed with Mrs Lal in class 2 (ages 6 & 7). When I walked into the class the children looked at me like I was an alien, they didn’t want to speak to me and they would just keep looking to see what I was up to. After the first few days the children had gotten used to me being there and were much more forward with me. Teaching was a challenge, I was at times left alone with the children which was daunting but I managed.
The classes are very large in comparison to English schools but once I had learnt all their names it became easier. When you spend every day with the children you begin to form a bond, they could be very cheeky at times but you couldn’t help but fall in love with them. By the time my month in Fiji was over I was very upset to be leaving my class, they presented me with a few gifts to remind me of Fiji and we had a little class party. Before I left I hadn’t prepared myself to becoming attached to people but in such a short period of time I knew I didn’t want to leave.
Traveling in Fiji
Having arrived very early on a Saturday morning I was advised by Shailini and Katrin that I should head to Bounty Island with the other volunteers for the weekend - what a great decision. The other volunteers were wonderful and friendly and really helped me to forget about my homesickness. That first weekend I met Sine & Laura, they had come from Denmark & Australia to do the same project as me. We instantly hit it off and became great friends from that moment on.
Midweek we planned a trip to Suva for the following weekend and we were joined by Bernadette and other volunteers. From that weekend my friendships with Laura, Sine and Bernadette became stronger. We would head out in the afternoon and evenings together and spend the weekends together. I did not want to leave Fiji, I loved being able to share such an amazing experience with such wonderful girls. Bernadette and I even managed a skydive!
Back to Reality
As much as I prayed, my time in Fiji would not slow down. I did not want to leave my class, my family, my friends and the beautiful country that Fiji is. My final night in Fiji was spent at home, Shailini cooked a feast and the girls came over to enjoy my last evening in paradise. Leaving Shailini and Kartic was so difficult, we had very big hugs and promised to see each other again soon. Once I arrived at the airport the girls stayed with me until it was time for me to go, I have never dreaded leaving somewhere so much.
As I got to the departure gate I started to cry, it had dawned on me that as we all lived so far from each other we would possibly never get to all be together again. Since being home I have spoken to all the girls and Shailini, I really hope we get the chance to meet again.
As I look back on my time in Fiji all I can do is smile. I have so many memories that I will keep forever. Sadly I cannot fit my whole story into a document, this small piece of writing doesn’t do any of what I did justice. I would recommend volunteering in Fiji to anyone that’s considering it. Sophie at the Fiji office makes everything so easy and she was a great help if ever I needed it. The children are wonderful and the people are amazing.