Kristina, Fiji III

Where people smile lots, judge less

Former Timaru Girls’ High School student Kristina O’Connor is finding herself at home in the Fijian village where she is a volunteer.

Looking around me, I don’t see any difference. Sitting in school, walking through town, having dinner with my family, I am the same as everyone else. I have wrapped myself up in life here so much that I fear that I have distanced myself from the realities of life back home.

Two weekends ago I went to a small island called Leleuvia – white sandy beaches, sunbathing, snorkelling, kayaking, paddle boarding, etc. It was definitely a tourist island, with literally a few boat loads of Europeans, white people, staying for the weekend too. Six months ago I would have felt completely normal among their company and now I look at the amount of skin on show and the attachment these people have to their cellphones and wonder how the world has come to this – even in the remotest of islands, the World Wide Web is influencing the way of life for so many.

Even though I had an absolutely amazing weekend, I’m sure you will all understand that I was happy to get home. I spent the week helping my school sports teams prepare for interschool sports last Friday.


Last weekend brought another weekend away, this time, however, I took the 4am transport over to Suva (carrier, bus, ferry, bus) and arrived by 9am. I enjoyed a day in the city with a couple of fellow volunteers getting a feel for what the Fijian capital has to offer – I think I could almost live there.

On Sunday I went to meet Kalo’s (fellow teacher/good friend) family and by the time Monday came and I got on the bus back home, I didn’t want to leave.

Suva is not the flashest of cities and really the shopping area of town isn’t that big, but I think that’s what works in its favour; it’s a capital city, the biggest city in Fiji but you don’t get lost in it. I was able to feel so at home there, comfortable and as if I really fit in among this culture.

For example, when I was in a shopping centre and saw tourists, white people, dotted around, I looked upon them and got so confused. In Fiji you look at any random person and get a smile back. You can walk around in second-hand clothing or with your top inside out and no-one judges you. Generally, the Fijian people emit this warmth about them and unfortunately, I have to say, Europeans (white people), can tend to emit judgment. It’s a part of us to always strive to look the best, have the nicest things etc. But here, it’s different.

I am hoping that now I have been a part of this way of life, I will be able to come home and continue the Fijian ways, helping the people around me to see that life isn’t all about materialistic things.

To try and not judge each other and to greet everyone with a smile, even if they are a complete stranger.