The central aspect and focus of this program is the cultural immersion of living with a Fijian family in the heart of a traditional village. During the experience, this requires you to expand your comfort zone and embrace a very basic way of life, without many of the known comforts that you are accustomed. You will experience the daily life of rural Fijians, including the intricacies of Fijian communal, subsistence life and the importance of chiefly structures and age-old customs. Students return with increased resourcefulness, resilience, and more understanding of global development issues.
While in the village, you will also engage in efforts coordinated by local NGOs and the Fijian government aimed at youth empowerment, mental health promotion or a community development building project (building a village health center). Students will select one of these three focus areas. These efforts are founded upon a local approach, where local Fijian volunteers, trained by these partner organizations, teach workshops on important development topics (public health, physical activity, mental health, environmental action, leadership & life skills, microenterprise) to villagers aged 18–30 years of age. Within these workshops, you will be called upon to facilitate small group discussions of these development topics with the villagers. To facilitate this discussion, you will implement group activities such as brainstorming, energizers, team building, and leading break outs, group challenges, buddy work, "conversation cafes"’ or other activities to build greater understanding and application of concepts.
In return, the villagers will teach workshops and activities for you to learn critical aspects of their customs, values, lifestyles, and traditions. All of this makes for a very unique cultural exchange between the villagers and students. Students must be committed to experiencing the culture, customs, challenges, and rigors of life in a traditional Fijian village. What you will experience as you live in a rural Fijian village for 3 ½ weeks will contrast sharply from the life in which you are accustomed to in many fundamental ways. But through this experience and from what you learn from local people, you will gain critical cultural understanding and appreciation for cultural differences and in the process develop cross-cultural communication skills and global leadership abilities. You will learn much about yourself (self-awareness) and come away with new perspectives likely to change your life in positive ways. This program is in partnership with Think Pacific, a United Kingdom-based organization devoted to improving the development of Fijian communities.
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