The Fiji Trip of 2015 began with a welcome blast of hot air and shouts of BULA! from every direction.
Although Fiji often attracts tourists to its many picturesque island resorts and attractions for a peaceful holiday experience, we were there to immerse ourselves in the culture of the nation and people. This included school visits where we donated much needed supplies and home-stays in which we were introduced to the singing and dancing traditions of the Fijian people, their everyday lives and their living conditions which proved very different to Australia’s.
Despite these differences, we became quick friends with the hundreds of children we visited and found many similarities between ourselves and our home-stay hosts from a high school in Fiji. However, making genuine friendships so quickly meant that goodbyes were said with heavy hearts and many hugs. Memories of windowless buses, sunshine, horse rides, mudpools, colourful leis, smiling people, kava, ‘relaxing’ beach walks, sulus and the sense of community and friendship among the Fijian people will stay with us always.
We returned home with more than jetlag, sunburn and grimy feet. We returned with stories, experience and a greater understanding of the Fijian culture and lifestyle that was once so unfamiliar to us. Not only did Siena students unite as a group (whether it was over intense pool sessions or Choki Choki binges), we also closed the gap between Australians and Fijians and made the distance between our two homes seem much, much closer. Vinaka, Fiji!
Alyssa Murray - Student