Kristina’s 2nd letter from Fiji – Keeps getting better by the day!
8 weeks have passed and Fiji just keeps getting better. I have been teaching for a month now and am starting to really enjoy it. Of course, sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in a pool of confusion and some days it’s as if I’ve been taking one step forward but two backwards – I am definitely getting the challenge that I was looking for but boy, you should see my class now! When I first started the students were rather unruly and had little self control when it came to noise and focusing, and now all I want to do is show them off. My classroom is an educational working environment and the students’ confidence in speaking English is improving daily. A small example of the changes I have found in their work ethic is that instead of coming to class to find kids running around playing games, I come in and they are all at their desks silent reading. I am so proud of them all and very thankful that my improvised teaching methods are appearing to work. I am also focusing on rewarding positive behaviour rather than punishing the bad which seems to mostly be working and slowly I am feeling like I can relax more and I am feeling more and more like a proper teacher.
Within school I have also started aerobics every Thursday afternoon where I have all 120 students in the hall following (again, very improvised!) me as I try to remember the aerobics I did in school. It is amazing to see the whole school so excited and energetic as well as at the same time getting a good workout. I am also a teacher in charge of Girl Guides which I enjoy very much as it reminds me of being one myself throughout school. I must say though, they sing a lot more than I ever did and man, can they harmonize!
Last week an Australian volunteer from in town (Levuka) and I went to visit what we were told was the ‘special school’. Knowing how much of a stigma there still is here against people with an intellectual disability, and that they are often still hidden away from society, and having had experience working in this field in NZ (IDEA), I can see so much that I could do to help and show the locals here that we are all the same – some people are just born with a few more challenges to face in life. We have been given the all clear to run an afternoon programme with the school whenever we can, so now it is just going to take time to work things out with my own placement as to whether I will be allowed to have leave to do so – so watch this space.
3 weeks ago I went for a day out in a village called Draimba with two other Lattitude volunteers. It was raining again so we were unable to climb up to the waterfall. Instead we went for a swim in the sea… next thing a few local boys with a home-made bamboo raft were leading us off to a reef. Firstly, I am/was not one for deep water, the sea, the fish and also currently a little unfit – but I had so much fun! Thankfully I had taken goggles and we were able to swim down, not too far though, and have a good look at the coral and beautifully coloured fish. In the end they almost had to drag me out of the water, all shrivelled up with a huge smile on my face – I can’t wait to go again!
A couple of weekends ago I had my monthly catch up with other Lattitude volunteers where I had organised a night staying in my village, Toki. The 6 of us enjoyed a concoction I cooked up of onion, tomato, pasta and a cheese sauce, with garlic bread, for dinner – 6 weeks without a cheesy pasta meal meant that we were all in heaven. We ate out on my veranda, sitting on mats and giving bowls of food away to anyone walking past – everyone here just gives, it is so lovely. We then went to my chiefs’ house where I presented a Sevusevu to the village – I went to the front and asked permission for my friends to be a part of the community for the night. It was a little nerve racking but I felt so good afterwards as I truly felt like a local. We enjoyed a great night of Kava and socialising with my youth group and other village folk. And to top off the night we all slept on a concrete floor covered in woven mats – as uncomfortable as it may sound, I actually had a great nights’ sleep ? It is also so nice to know that outside of my placement and village, I have a really strong network of friends which is only possible by coming here through Lattitude Global Volunteering – 24/7 support is vital over here.
Lastly, to all of my teachers (back in NZ) over the years, thank you. I now have so much more of an appreciation for what you do and how you managed to put up with me some days, I will never know. And to all students reading this, take it easy on your teachers, imagine yourself in their shoes – it’s hard! Be nice and trust what they say, they do tend to know what they’re on about