Archive for the ‘Exeter University Team’ Category

Friday, July 24th, 2015

Exeter University Team – ‘With heavy hearts we left the village, with huge hopes to return to our loving families at some point in the future.’


Exeter Uni - Leaving Village (12)

After a speedy, yet very busy project, the time came to leave Drauniivi village, and our Fijian families. Though the project has been shorter than most, the volunteers have still achieved a huge amount in that time, from teaching and coaching sports in not one, but two schools, as well as getting stuck into the Fijian lifestyle and culture, from the food to the traditional activities like bilo making.

On the final Sunday, the village held a special Church service for the volunteers, with touching words of thanks from villagers, both young and old, that certainly pulled at heartstrings to say the least. The volunteers, namely Sophie, Ella and Louise presented well-rehearsed speeches about their experiences, and Grace and Imy H recited a poem they had written, which was met with choruses of laughter from the villagers, especially when the girls mentioned how well they had been fed during their stay!

Exeter Uni - Leaving Village (8)

When Monday morning came around, the volunteers were escorted to the meeting point to catch their bus by sobbing families, and with heavy hearts we left the village, with huge hopes to return to our loving families at some point in the future. It has been an amazing project and we would like to extend our heartfelt ‘vinaka vakalevu’ to Drauniivi village from the first ever Exeter University team!

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Exeter University Team – Volunteers light up Drauniivi village as team perform traditional Meke dances & launch ‘Fun Day’ stalls and games!


Exeter Uni - Meke & Fundraiser (18)

For the end of our stay in the village, we organised a fundraiser in the community hall with stands for cake, water balloons, lollipops, face painting, glasses of Tang, friendship bracelets, henna and a much sought after raffle!

But before we opened the fundraiser for the village, we all had to perform the Drauniivi meke, a special dance for the village. We started learning this about a week before the fundraiser, with the girls doing a separate one from the boys. When the girls first saw the dance performed by a few Fijian girls with an accompanying song, we were overwhelmed by its length and a huge poster of lyrics that they first insisted that were going to learn. It was soon clear that learning to sing the song was a tad ambitious, but we gradually picked up the meke dance moves, and Ella practiced her call of ‘Laga Thombo/Meke!’. In our last practice, we had an audience of some villagers who were passing by, all of which found our attempt very entertaining (despite us thinking we had been pretty thorough!)

Exeter Uni - Meke & Fundraiser (16)

We all wore wreaths of leaves and flowers around our wrists and waists, handmade by our Fijian Mums. Many villagers turned out for the performance and we all thought that it went well, but most importantly the villagers were so entertained that they made us do it for a second time, with many Fijian girls joining in!

It was now time for the boys, which we waited for excitedly as they had bigged themselves up! It is safe to say that they were quite a hit with many Fijian ladies, with all of the boys receiving sulus and even kisses on cheeks from admiring ladies! While their Meke moves may have left a lot to be desired, we were all very entertained!

Exeter Uni - Meke & Fundraiser (30)

After we had performed our Mekes twice (due to popular demand!), we opened the community hall and began the fundraiser. Once the concept of the raffle had been explained (but perhaps not received!), all the stalls were doing very well, with kids running wild from lollipops to face paint and onto Tang. The fundraiser ended with drawing the raffle tickets. The winners were very happy with their prizes, and we soon saw three Think Pacific sulus featuring in some of the villagers outfits. It was great to see their excitement over the prizes that the volunteers had brought from home!

It was a lovely afternoon on one of our last few days in the village, the strain of repeatedly explaining the raffle made completely worth it by the villagers appreciation, having never had an event like this before!

by Alice

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Exeter University Team – Sports Development; A proud day for our volunteers as Drauniivi & Naseyani students compete at annual Ra Primary Schools Rugby & Netball Competition!


Exeter Uni - Sports Tournament (28)

The last Saturday of the project brought about a day to head to Ra Sports Ground for the annual primary school rugby and netball tournament, which both Drauniivi and Naseyani schools were competing in. Last year, Drauniivi school had secured the winning title in both rugby and netball, and so on Saturday morning we donned our Think Pacific gear, and boarded the bus with high hopes and an enormous, still wet banner which we had prepared especially, which provided for an interesting journey.

On arrival we were pleased to see that we were in possession of the only banner, which certainly aided our cheers and calls for the teams playing, including an impressive chant made up by Ronan that went ‘Draaauniivi ii iiii, push pineapple, shake a tree’, that undoubtedly turned a few heads! Though when it came to Naseyani versus Drauviini, it is safe to say that loyalties were tested amongst the team!

Exeter Uni - Sports Tournament (14)

It was certainly very rewarding to witness so many of the skills that the team had implemented and worked on with the children throughout the project, for example the elder girls in the netball were putting the ‘3 man weave’ to good practice! After a long day in the sun, both the schools that we had been coaching over our project came away with 3 out of the 3 netball titles, and 2 out of the 3 rugby titles, which made us all immensely proud!

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Exeter University Team – Huge excitement and drama at Drauniivi & Naseyani Primary Schools as House Cup competitions reach epic climax!


Exeter Uni - House Cup Finals (36)

As the project draws to a close, the day arrived for house cup finals, which had been hugely anticipated by all the team and all of the pupils in the schools, as the different houses fought it out over various categories to win the title. This is the day that we had been working towards, in the house art, public speaking and singing over the three weeks that we have been in Drauviini and Naseyani Primary Schools. Each final was then finished off with a house sport competition which included egg and spoon races, running relays and the very popular and hilarious ‘kavalagi’ relays!

House art had followed a theme of ‘Under the Sea’, and there were many fine displays, including from constructed jellyfish to mermaid houses. House speaking saw the years 5 and 6 recite ‘I have a dream’ by Martin Lurther King Jnr, where they were judged on clarity, memory and pronunciation, and some even added actions, as this proved popular to help the children remember the words.

Exeter Uni - House Cup Finals (23)

Then came house singing for years 7 and 8, which included a number of different songs, from What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction, to I’m Yours by Jason Mraz and even some ABC by the Jackson 5. The sports was saved until last as it was by far the most chaos, as we all know how Fijian children love sports and competition, and some would say that the competition was equally rivalled by the volunteers, all of which got stuck in and ran some tight races themselves!

Although all the children performed so well in each aspect of the house cup, the winning house was crowned, but all the children deserve so much credit for their efforts over the past few weeks. After a busy couple of hours, we were garlanded by the school children with beautiful flowers and the kind teachers of both schools had prepared a traditional Fijian tea to say thank you and the team were advised to ‘kana levu’.  We could not have thought of a better way to end our time in both of the schools, and it has been amazing to see all of the children that we have been working with flourish in so many ways!

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Exeter University Team – Beach Picnic Adventure; ‘For many of us this was our first time ever that we had the opportunity catch our own fish, a very exciting prospect!’


Exeter Uni - Week 2 - Beach Day (5)

Saturday was beach day; the first group outing of the project so far. After a short ride through the Mangroves close to the village, we were out in the open ocean only 10 minutes from our destination, the stunning first beach. This was the perfect opportunity to sit back and relax after a hectic first week and enjoy Fiji’s amazing sea and sun! Jon, Ronan and Annily, accompanied by leader Lee, even braved the deep blue ocean and snorkelled out to the reef drop off. The sea life increasingly improved the closer we got to the reef’s drop off point.

Then to the main part of the day – the fishing! For many of us this was our first time ever that we had the opportunity catch our own fish, a very exciting prospect! The fishing lines were fashioned out of Fiji water bottles, a line and a hook. Although basic, between two boats and a few very skilled Fijians, we managed to catch around 30 fish, which we would then devour for lunch. Ronan and two local divers went spear fishing, catching two octopus and 3 sea cucumbers. After a successful haul and some definite sunburn we docked at beach number two.

Exeter Uni - Week 2 - Beach Day (21)

On arrival, the Fijians kindly got two fires going, one for ‘warmth’ and one for cooking. We began to prepare the fish by scaling and gutting them which was completed by the Fijians and Jon and Annily. To cook the fish we essentially spit roasted them with a long metal rod and ate them fresh with lemon, chilli and cassava. During the feast, Annily found a ‘wild’ coconut and prepared by removing the outer husk revealing the fresh coconut milk and flesh – an ideal dessert.

By this time, the sun was beginning to set and the tide was coming in. A few rounds of the team favourite, Mafia, and a lethal game of catch in the sea, leaving several of the team soaked, rounded off the day before we set off home. The moon and the stars were spectacular as we returned to the boats and headed home in the darkness, with smiles and full bellies as one of the most enjoyable days of the project so far had come to an end!

by Jon & Annily

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Exeter University Team – “Village life so far is tiring, but rewarding, lively, and creating memories we will never forget!”


Exeter Uni - Week 2 - Village Life (2)

After a week in the village, the team have settled in well to their daily lives, living with their Fijian families and getting accustomed with the unique culture. Grace and Georgie have written about their experience:

“Now that we are over a week in, village life is starting to feel more normalised, as we become more used to the food (a favourite being cassava) and daily group bathing sessions in the stream. Bracelet making last Wednesday was pretty cool! We all managed to complete (with a little help from our Mum’s) a traditional Fijian bracelet from dried palm leaves. It was good to get together and experience the Fijian culture with our families. A lot of our time is spent playing multiple different games with endless streams of children, a few of our favourites include Clem (a card game), San Mario, and ABC!

Kaivalagi sports after debriefs are well received by team members, so far competitive games of rounders and lacrosse have occurred to large audiences of village children and teenagers… but of course it is the taking part that counts, if only someone told Ronan this! The teams’ competitive spirit extends past the sports field, like the weekly quiz nights which include rounds of limbo (won by Sophie), movie music, and general knowledge… Ronan’s competitive side surfaced again with him and Georgie rising to victory to receive a pack of treasured biscuits! The night, as many have, ended in a classic card game of Mafia, which tested many roommate relationships. It is safe to say that village life so far is tiring, but rewarding, lively, and creating memories we will never forget!”