December 8th, 2013
As a key iniative within Think Pacific’s sponsorship for the primary and scondary schools’ event at the national East vs West Challenge 2013, last week saw our Youth & Sports Development Officers Nigel and Tom deliver a series of education and skills workshops for the students.
The education programmes were endorsed by the Friji Secondary Schools and Primary Schools Unions, and included modules on Time Management, Money Management, Health & Nutrition and Goal Setting, with the students engaging in activities and practical elements to encourage their knowledge and understanding so that they may be developed holistically.
The skills training workshop focused upon core skills including the pass and running lines, as well as dynamic power work, as the students, assembled from schools across the Eastern and Western zones, finalised their preparations for the national East vs West event competition.
The first event day, held on Saturday November 30th at the National Stadium in Suva, proved a huge success, providing the students with an opportunity to play at the national facility, whilst offering them significant support under FRU coaches and exposure through national television and press coverage.
Think Pacific was also very pleased to assist with the promotions for the event, encouraging healthy living and physical activity through a half time challenge for chosen youths attending the match. The final for the challenge was held at half time for the main event, with our 2 champions winning a T shirt and sulu for their efforts!
We would like to thank the Fiji Sports Council for their support in endorsing Think Pacific as a sponsor for the East West Challenge, and we wish the primary and secondary school students all the best for the remaining “state of origin” series matches on November 7th and November 14th.
November 28th, 2013
Think Pacific is very proud to announce our sponsorship for the primary and secondary school competitions at the upcoming East vs West Challenge 2013.
The event is being established under the Fiji Sports Council, with whom Think Pacific signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2013, and provides a unique opportunity to promote a core aim of Think Pacific in investing in Fiji’s youth by providing access to improved infrastructure, education, training and support.
As Peter Mazey, the Chairman of the Fiji Sports Council, stated at the media launch, “The East vs West Challenge is an initiative to appreciate the talent of rugby around the country and will be displayed by outstanding players from East and West from the 30th November”, including fixtures for the student grades at the ANZ National Satidum in Suva, Fiji.
Think Pacific’s sponsorship includes travel assistance to the east and west primary school and secondary school teams for the 3 event days on the 30th November, 7th December and 14th December, as well as their food allowances and access to the national facilities in preparation for the competition.
Holistic student development is also a primary focus of our commitment to Fiji’s youth, and Think Pacific shall therefore provide education workshops in health & nutrition, goal setting, time management, money management and media awareness for the east and west zones, led by our Youth & Sports Development Managers Nigel and Tom, who shall also deliver some specific skills training and coaching programmes.
We would like to thank our volunteer teams, whose donations to long term youth and sports development in Fiji have allowed us to support this fantastic initiative, and we hope to provide many more opportunities for Fiji’s youth in the future!
November 26th, 2013
As the team depart Gau Island and make their way along the beautiful coral coast, the impact and achievements during the 8 weeks in the village will remain vivid in the minds of all the volunteers for a very long time. The community of Nawaikama offered the team a spectacular last week in the village and made sure their new sons and daughters had the best few days before they set sail to the mainland. The team were treated to experience something truly unique as the fishing clan took out volunteers each night over the week to go out night spearfishing. With the coral reef surrounding Gau offering some the best snorkeling in the whole of Fiji, it was an unbelievable experience and one that the volunteers won’t forget in a hurry. Amy was our natural fisherwoman, catching an impressive hoard during her trip.
Much to the delight of the team, the final week also offered plenty of time spent with the clans and families. With the Fijian families lying at the heart of the expeditions, our guys all enjoyed a big farewell feast and grog session with their own clans. Immersing ourselves into traditional Fijian culture we also set to work on learning and practicing our mekes. With some of the school boys and village ladies helping teach our guys the traditional Fijian dances, the meke practices became the source of entertainment for the villagers as they would sing and laugh their way through the practices. The night before the opening ceremony saw the team dress up in their meke getup and perform it to the chief. In true Nawaikamain spirit, the grog was in full flow with some of our guys seeing it through til sunrise.
Our final Saturday in the village saw the team host a ‘Think Pacific Fun Day’ for the village. With cake and sweet stalls, a treasure map, splat the rat, ‘art’ corner and a tombola offering some entertainment before a village volleyball tournament, it was a great afternoon spent with the whole community. The money raised will go towards school equipment and supplies for both the secondary and primary school so thank you for everyone who contributed in any way shape or form during the day.
Sunday was a sober affair as it was time to say our very emotional goodbyes to our Fijian mums, dads, brothers and sisters. As a team we performed ‘Amazing Grace’ in church before the volunteers said their words of thanks and appreciation to their individual clans.
And on that note, it was time for one final grog and hop hop until sunrise. It’s hard to sum up an experience like the last 8 weeks as the team have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into a community that has welcomed them with arms wide open. The kindness and loving nature of the Fijian families will stay with the team forever and their Fijian families will always keep their doors open for their sons and daughters to return.
November 23rd, 2013
This final week saw the completion of the Think Pacific building project at Gau Secondary. Over the past 8 weeks the whole team has contributed their humbling efforts and time into creating this new staff room for the secondary school. Through rain and shine, the team has looked to get the job done and this final week offered the opportunity to finally step back and admire their outstanding efforts. Robyn designed a team logo and with the help of her TP sister, Jess, they set to work on painting this logo on the front door, outlining Gau Island with everyone’s name within. After a morning of tidying the build site and an eventfully journey for the boys carrying the tool box down the hill, our building project here in Gau was finished and ready for use!
The community of Gau Secondary invited the team up on Friday afternoon for an opening ceremony. With the headmaster and school talatala donating their kind words and humbling gratitude to the whole team, it was a special occasion whereby the guys got to see the reason why they worked so hard over the weeks in getting the staff room complete. Once leader Rob had cut the cake and the Ratu (chief) had cut the ribbon, the new staff room was officially opened!
After a dress rehearsal the previous night, the team presented their Mekes (traditional Fijian dance) to the school. The TP girls offered a flawless rountine, much to the delight of the Fijians, while the boys offered a rather more ‘unique’ stance on the traditional war dance, but had everyone in hysterics. After the school boys returned the favour by presenting a Meke to the team and the school singing the farewell song ‘isa isa,’ the team joined the teachers and parents for one last time for some tea and cakes.
We finished the night with a farewell party at Gau Secondary with all the teachers and villagers from Nawaikama. Our time at Gau Secondary was beyond what any of us could have ever imagined and with it being the first ever TP project to visit a secondary school, both the team and Gau have set the bar very high!
November 23rd, 2013
Nawaikama Primary school has offered some incredible moments for the whole team and after a spectacular 8 weeks of teaching, sports coaching and extra-curricular activities at NDS, our time with the children has unfortunately come to an end.
Kindi finished with the now famous kindi party, which had all the kids as well as all the volunteers dancing and singing their way through the morning in true kindi fashion! With the guys decorating the classroom and offering new games for the kids to play, it was a fitting end to the team’s time in kindergarten. Everyone has entered the kindi fortress at some point during the expedition so it really has been a team effort in educating and elevating the youngsters of Nawaikama. Songs including ‘baby shark na na na na na,’ ‘kindi what is your profession?’ and ‘this is how we do it,’ will certainly have a lasting legacy in kindi and will certainly keep the kids entertained even after the volunteers have left.
A similar story prevailed in the primary school classrooms with all the team desperate to spend time with all the kids. The last week was spent focusing on exams and thus helping the kids on doing the best they can during their examinations. With the kids revising, it was a nice opportunity to help go over difficult topics and areas that the kids struggled with. After working so hard with the school, it was nice to see the kids using the lessons from the volunteers to help them revise! The final afternoon at NDS saw the school go the extra mile in putting on an incredible feast after each class had said a unique and special farewell to the team. From songs and poems to speeches and mekes, the efforts put in by the children reflected how much they enjoyed and appreciated the volunteers’ presence over the 8 weeks. The children also wrote farewell cards and posters for all the volunteers individually, providing some extremely special and personal souvenirs for the guys.
So to all the children, teachers and parents at NDS, thank you so much for such a unique and unforgettable experience!
November 17th, 2013
Gau Secondary School has become a familiar setting for us volunteers. Having lived with the teachers for 4 weeks before moving to the village, it feels like returning home whenever we walk the 20 minute journey along a single track surrounded by beautiful Fijian forest from the village up to the school.
The school is the only secondary on the whole of Gau Island, so around half of the students walk in each morning from our village of Naiwakama or further villages whilst the other half board at the school compound. By the time us volunteers ascend the steps approaching the classrooms at 9am, the school day is already well under way, with the boarders also having already completed morning duties which may have included cleaning or cutting the grass (with machete’s.. it’s harder than it sounds!) Having chosen the lessons we each want to teach or assist in, we headed for the classrooms to mould some young minds (in our own unique TP way).
A typical Fijian school day can consist of a mix of all the subjects you’d expect, as well as some conversational Hindi, commerce, Fijian or agriculture. My favourite is science, so having nervously spent the night before planning, I headed to the science labs to teach some chemistry and biology. Now, I don’t know if singing Justin Bieber lyrics is the conventional way of teaching redox chemical reactions to a bunch of Fijian sixth formers, but it somehow seemed to work and I was almost bursting with pride as by the end of the lesson they were happily balancing away whilst humming to a bit of Biebs.
Next was biology, and if a Kaivalagi (Fijian term for European) stood on a chair pretending to pee with a diagram of the kidneys and urinary system stuck to me doesn’t scream ‘remember this in your exam’ then I don’t know what does! The bell then rang for recess which in England would have meant packing your bag as quickly as possible and running out the classroom, however to my shock the students actually asked for the lesson to carry on. This was the first of many experiences I had of the students being so grateful for their education and so keen to learn. I was also overwhelmed by the politeness and care shown by the students; every day I would put my bag on the floor and talk to the students only to turn and find my bag placed on the desk and a student holding out a chair and chalk for me. It’s clear that although the students don’t have much in the way of possessions or resources, they are still happier and keener to learn than any other students I’ve met before. At first quite shy, the students over time became more and more confident and their kind and funny personalities soon shone through, with many now becoming our good friends.
The weeks I’ve spent in Gau Secondary have become some of my favourites of the whole expedition with highlights including learning to sew blankets in home economics, teaching English, learning some more Fijian language, baking cupcakes in cookery class, doing experiments with science classes, teaching English songs in music class and learning Fijian ones in return, but mainly just hanging out with some of the most funny and friendly people I’ve ever met. It was a genuine case of them teaching us just as much as we taught them and I’m so grateful to the Secondary for having us.