The Fiji archipelago is famous for its pristine white sands and turquoise waters. Beyond the beach, adventurous tourists explore the rugged charms of the emerald green interior with cascading waterfalls at every turn. Yet to really understand the culture one must spend time among the Fijians and volunteering on gap year projects gives visitors the opportunity to discover the real Fiji for themselves.
In Suva, the animal care project offered by Projects Abroad is ideal for pre-university students considering a career in veterinary medicine, or anyone who just loves animals. Volunteers work at the Fiji Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals which has a small veterinary clinic, a welfare office, and a shelter for the rehabilitation and homing of abandoned dogs and cats. Volunteers get involved in vaccinations, operations, inspections, dog trapping, and de-sexing programmes, and work closely with the local community.
Gap year volunteers who wish to truly immerse themselves in traditional Fijian culture can work on community projects based in villages near Nadi or Suva. Here they get involved in every aspect of village life and help with teaching, farming, cooking, basket weaving, and mat making, along with anything else that needs doing. It’s a great way to experience life as others live it, away from the hustle and bustle of towns.
Working in local primary schools can provide gap year students with a unique new perspective on this nation of islands. They gain invaluable teaching experience without needing to have any previous qualifications and make a real difference in the lives of the children they teach. Although education is not compulsory in Fiji, 99% of Fijian children attend primary school as it’s free for the first eight years. In the increasingly urbanised Fijian culture, speaking good English is essential for career prospects, particularly in the booming tourism industry. Working alongside local teachers, the volunteers use song, conversation, and games to improve the children’s English. Along the way they gain an insight into the culture and lives of ordinary Fijians.