Jade Carr - General Teaching Projects in Fiji
I had just graduated high school and really needed a break from studying, so I took a gap year, and wanted to fill it with something special and memorable. I had heard about Projects Abroad from a teacher at school whose daughter volunteered in Cambodia. Being inspired by her wonderful stories, I began planning and saving for my trip. I debated a lot on where I wanted to go but decided that Fiji wasn’t too far away from home for my first big trip. I participated in the Teaching Project, with the idea that I would get a feel for the profession, as I dream of one day being a teacher myself.
Arriving in Fiji
I began my three-month journey late in the afternoon when I arrived in Lautoka. I met my host family and felt very excited for the times ahead. Even though I was excited, my first week wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. I was the only volunteer in my city and hadn’t met any other volunteers until the next week. Initially, I was a bit lonely and had moments thinking I may have made the wrong choice. I reminded myself that part of travelling is to learn to sit with the uncomfortable moments. Despite this, my host family was incredible and quickly reassured me that all was well, making me feel welcomed and at home. They were a Fijian family, so I was able to immerse myself in local culture and experience the authentic Fijian cuisine like cassava, dalo, and lots of coconut and fish related dishes. The kids in the house became my best friends. Always up for playing and hanging out, and giving me advice on how to catch local transport or telling me how much things should cost.
My Teaching placement
The school I worked at was only a 15-minute walk from home, so I walked every morning which was a great way to burn off all those coconut rolls I was eating. I was with a grade 5 class for the term, helping with lessons, sometimes running the lesson myself, writing test papers and providing lots of one-on-one support. I focused on improving their numeracy, which I was really excited about as maths was definitely my forte. I designed numerous worksheets where I could track their progress. Some lunchtimes we would play games like matching cards, bingo, patterns or something else that I could relate to maths. I had a ton of fun with them! One day I was teaching the class for the entire day. We did some worksheets, games, played a little as well, and I really felt like I was getting through them. At the end of the day, I had a girl come up to me and say, “Today was a really good day madam, thanks.” And to me, that meant the world - it was the best day ever!
I had the privilege of painting some murals at my school, which was lovely thinking that I had left my mark. At the end of my project, I had the honour of inviting my family from Australia to visit me. They brought a stack of reading books, stationary, and educational DVDs as a parting gift on my behalf. I learnt that small help can make a big change. I was only with my students for a term, but I knew I had done well. And I honestly learnt more from them than they did from me.
The highlights of my trip
I think some of the best parts of this journey was meeting some absolutely amazing people from all over the world, including Fiji, who have now become friends very close to my heart. Sharing weekend trips like the Sigatoka Sand Dunes, Natadola Beach, giant zip lines, mud pools, Robinson Crusoe Island, Nananu-i-Ra, Suva and plenty more. I also highly recommend going to the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands. The Projects Abroad staff were most helpful, organising fun workshops and community days, which was another great way to hang out with fellow volunteers. Whenever I needed supplies for my class, they were only a short text away! This trip has made such an impact on my life. It’s opened my eyes to a different world, made me curious about what else is out there, and has made me thankful for what I have at home. I have no regrets on my decision. It’s the best thing I could have done. I hope my story inspires you to volunteer in this amazing friendly beautiful country and make the most of your Projects Abroad experience just as I have.