Archive for June, 2011

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Gap Year Stories: Sarah’s Blog From The Beachouse

Sarah gap year

I am really hoping that this blog is highly appreciated by those loved ones at home as I have had to take time out of my packed schedule to write it and it really has been such an inconvenience! I am currently sitting in the sunshine looking out onto the clear blue ocean, with my new friends, waiting for afternoon tea to be served!!! Such a hard life I know!

We are now on our third different location on the R and R stage – it seems to be going so fast! We spent one night on Caqalai, where we came initially 8 weeks ago, then three nights in Pacific Harbour, staying at Club Oceanus, where I had a massage, jumped off a relatively high bridge (!!) and went white water rafting!! We are now at the Beachouse where eating and chilling and sleeping seem to be the activities of choice, which is fine by me!!

Although R and R has been a great chance to chill and relax with all the rest of the team, I think the highlight of the trip for everyone has to be the time we spent in Nasesara. From the moment we arrived we barely stopped to take breath, but it was the best yet most intense 2 months of my life!

Throughout the entire 8 weeks I never stopped thinking how lucky and privileged I was to be able to live alongside local people in their village on a remote Fijian island. No tourists would ever be allowed to experience what we did and that made me feel very special indeed. I also came to the conclusion that despite living thousands of miles apart and our obvious differences in lifestyle, ambition and values; we are not really that different at all. Although some of the Fijians may be jealous of the amount we have, in terms of money and possessions, there is so much more that we can learn from them. Communal living was very frustrating at times, don’t get me wrong, but the concept of everyone looking out for everyone else and sharing what they have with others is something I hope I can learn from and take back home with me. Katie’s mum, Bee, who was definitely the loudest, most colourful character of the village (!!) put it very well:

Mia and I went round for dinner and we had fish. Her husband had been fishing that day and caught lots, some of which she kept, some which she’d distributed amongst the village. I asked if she’d given it away or sold it. She said ‘If I need money I sell it, if I don’t I give it way’. The complete lack of selfishness in that philosophy really humbled me and made me feel sad to live in such a capitalist world where so many people are simply out to make as much money as possible. 

Brief interlude whilst I have my coffee and scones, please do excuse me…

Okay I’m back now, with sticky fingers and a full stomach!

I feel I need to dedicate a substantial amount of space to my first love in Fiji, grog and hop hop. This romance first began on Caqalai when the group were enjoying grog and hop hop with the staff. I left when most of the team did, almost went to bed and then thought, ‘Sarah, for goodness sake, its only 12 o’clock and you’re in Fiji what are you doing??’ so I went back to the hall and waited until grog was over with Billy, Henry , Anthony and Alun. But it wasn’t just a fling, oh no, I could generally be found drinking grog into the early hours, long after most of the team had gone to their beds! Only my regular drinking buddies, Billy and Anthony, could be counted on to still be there. I thoroughly enjoyed my last night with grog and hop hop in Nasesara and I must say I am missing it very much. Who needs alcohol?!

Next, project needs to have a decent mention as it was the whole reason we came after all! Seeing the build begin as a huge pile of wood, several sheets of tin, a tool box, millions of nails and several tins of paint and turn into a fully painted, structurally sound hall extension in just 8 weeks was incredible to be part of.       

Kindi also, exhausting as it was so rewarding. Simple things like Louddy, a very cute 4 year old, writing her name perfectly on a whiteboard when I’d barely even seen her pick up a pen before were amazing. Teaching them how to wash their hands with soap and water one day and then watching them the next day as they remembered how I’d taught them to do it was also lovely to see.
School was definitely the most difficult of the three but was also so much fun. Class 3 were a bunch of fifteen crazy, cheeky, hyper 8 year olds of such different academic ability. But above all they were lovely and I miss them all very much.

As I’m sure is obvious, I’ve loved my time in Fiji more than it’s possible to do justice to in these words. I only hope that once I’m home I will try to be as Fijian as possible in terms of generosity, selflessness and friendliness. I will cherish the wonderful memories I have of my time in Nasesara forever.

All my love to all my friends and family, and thank you for taking the time to read this. Also to anyone else reading this, thank you for your time and if you are considering doing a TP project, please do, I promise you won’t regret it!
Missing everyone loads, especially Mum, Dad and Emma, looking forward to seeing you all in a couple of months! Take care, keep safe and try not to worry about me!

Lots and lots and lots of love from Sarah xxxx

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Vinaka Vakalevu Tom Wyles (”Billy” to the TP team) and Family!


Think Pacific would like to thank Tom Wyles (our volunteer in Nasesara village, Moturiki) and his family in England for their kind generosity in donating learning resources to MDS kindi. Tom’s family sent white boards for the children, which the kindi teams have found extremely beneficial to aid learning time, particularly when letters are on the agenda. Marked improvement is already being noted in the children. vinaka vaka levu Wyles family!

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Gap Year Fiji – A Diary of our Gap Year Volunteers in Manuku Village

Here’s the huge update from our gap year team in Fiji and a recap of all the amazing achievements and unique memories Batiki Island.

 Batiki May 11 - gap year Fiji village

Monday 6th June; Our volunteers start the project with a bang!

It was a start to a new week for our May 2011 gap year team, and our volunteers were well rested after a great Sunday chilling in the village. It was time for our gap year girls to get their wood work skills on! Jimbo our building manager showed them how the make the doors for the toilets and then it was up to our volunteers to finish the rest, they did a great job and by the end of the day they had all completed. Scott, Hywell and Ed were on block work really getting to grips with it, to the point where they fitted a whole toilet block without any help for Jimbo. Jack and our plumber got to work on the pipe work. Rob and Tom were on the iron sheets that go around the toilet blocks which are a very hard process, but they also did a great job.

Batiki May 11 - Week 2 & 3 - Build. (3) 

In School our gap year team were set up to kick off another great week. Amelia finished strongly on Friday and aimed to carry on her success today. This she did, with a tremendous morning of maths and English workshops, the kids and Amelia had certainly earned their lunch-break. The same morning saw Hattie completely bossing classes 7 + 8, with the kids hanging off her every word and itching to learn. They ran through both science and English with relative ease and by lunchtime the children were just waiting for the afternoon’s lessons! James was to take his first solo class today, a class which he absolutely rocked! He started to work on sentences with classes 5+6, a task not to be taken lightly! The results were initially mixed, but with a bit of teaching from James, those who were struggling were whipping out sentences left, right and centre by the end of the day!

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With a whole weekend to rest, the kindians were absolutely buzzing today! With the gap team being equally pumped, this was looking ready to be an incredible day. It began with songs and games, which were massively enjoyed by all, including renditions on The Grand Old Duke of York and Three Little Speckled frogs, and extremely energetic games of Duck, Duck, Goose. The kids then settled down to recap on some numbers and learn a few new colours before snack time arrived. Outdoor games followed, with Tails and Bulldogs being the favourites. Arts and crafts saw volunteers and kids alike making either cowboy or Indian hats for the following day.

Batiki May 11 - gap year fun

Tuesday 7th; Gap year team proving an inspiration in the classroom

It was the last day in kindi before the rota change, so our gap year girls were looking to make it a great day for the kids to remember!  It started with the kids getting on their cowboy and Indian outfits, which went down a treat. The morning was spent singing song and playing games. Then it was time for kindi sports day. Which was by far the most fun we have seen the kids have I a long time. Sprints, shack race, egg and spoon, relay and many more saw the kids putting all their energy into it.

School was on fire, with James in 5&6 focussing upon maths. Amelia was in full flow with class 1&2; they really have grown to love her. Hattie took time to run through the play that the whole school started practicing on Monday before sports. It’s about Lutusobasoba; the man who they say founded Fiji hundreds of years ago. The kids are relishing the chance to try some drama!

 Batiki May 11 - gap year youth

The building volunteer team had another hard and hot day ahead of them, with the foundations for more toilets to be laid. Ed and Tom soldiered on with the foundations while Katinka, Hollie and Anneka set to work on the cross blocks.

Another key job was to finish bricking up the remaining septic tanks; this was a job that Hywell, Jack, Scott and Rob were becoming old hands at, so it was finished and looking good in no time. Just before lunch it was all hands on deck to finish the remaining foundation so it could set for the next day’s team coming in. Our gap year team are really pushing ahead with this project and it’s amazing to see how much is being achieved in such a short time!

Batiki May 11 - gap year build 

Wednesday 8th; Gap year girls steal the show on the building project!

It was the changing of the guard on the building volunteer project, with a girl heavy group they were out to prove they could do it as good as the lads! And boy did they. Hannah, Libby and Alice got straight to work on the frames for the rest of the toilets. Anneka helped Jimbo finish block work on the septic. James was on the plumbing working with our plumber putting together the 4 inch pipes for the septic. Hattie had the tough job of digging out trenches for the water pipes to go in. Katinka and Hollie were on the other septic learning the magic of block work, and building up their guns! Start to a new rota did not disappoint, Jimbo loving is new gap year volunteer crew!

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On their first day at school, the new volunteer gap year teachers were both nervous and excited. Ed was heading into class 7+8 and Rob and Scott had class 5+6. Amelia stayed in class 1+2, who were now seeing her as a new teacher, not a volunteer! She started off in true Amelia style with some learning based fun followed by an interactive maths session. Ed got straight to work with taking a maths lesson while Rob and Scott hovered around the classes giving assistance wherever they could. The kids seem to love their new teachers and all our gap volunteers feel this could be the start of an incredible rota.

The kindi volunteer team for this rota consisted of newbie gap volunteers Tom, Naomi and Jack along with Sarah, who stayed on from the last rota. It was down to Sarah to show the boys the ropes. Within 10 minutes they were sat with the kids for Lego time, building all sorts of vehicles and structures. The day then progressed into songs and games, followed by break-time and outdoor games. Having massively enjoyed their first day, the new gap team were definitely looking forward to tomorrow!

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Thursday 9th; Kindergarten kids having a blast!

Kindi today was rocking! With the new leaders badge introduced as a prize for improvement, the kids were all vying for first place on the points chart. The day started with a kindi welcome for Naomi, with the kids standing in 2 lines as she entered the door, they sang the Good Morning Song and clapped her in. Songs and games then kicked into action. The kindi Learning element saw Jack and Tom’s brilliantly crafted rainbow put to good use as the kids excitedly screamed out colours.

With songs in full swing, the mood was one of tense anticipation for the upcoming round of musical bumps!  Eroni, our reigning champion, pulled through to win it, learning some killer moves from Jack along the way. The afternoon it was time to run through the weeks learning activities to make sure the kids were making progress. They are really starting to come to terms with numbers, which will put them in good stead for going into school next year.

Batiki May 11 - gap year projects

It was a boiling hot day on the building volunteer project so it was water and sun cream at the ready. The gap year team really pushed through the build even with the baking heat. Anneka and Hywell were working on the timber frames for the lids of the septic. Hollie and Katinka continued to work on the blocks around the septic finishing it off at the end of the day with big hugs all round.  The rest of the team had the great job of digging the trenches out for the lengths and lengths of pipe work that is going to be fitted throughout the village.

On just the second day of school, Ed had fitted completely into his role in classes 1+2. He took a very successful maths lesson in the morning, teaching the kids about the area of circles and cylinders, and then progressed on to making signs for the school compound in the afternoon. Amelia once again rocked classes 1+2, taking the kids outside to collect objects of different colours. The kids thrived on the mix of competition, physical exercise and learning! In 5+6, Scott and Rob organised a lesson on mosquitoes, combining their skills to deliver a fun and informative session that the kids thoroughly enjoyed. Rob sat with class 5 during English, while Scott helped class 6 with their imaginative writing.

Batiki May 11 - Week 2 & 3 - gap year

Friday 10th; Last big push for our building volunteers

As Friday is a half day the gap year team wanted to really push the building volunteer project ahead. Hulk (Hywell) and Anneka worked on the base for one of the toilets, Hannah and Hollie were on to creating Fracas boards around the top of the toilets which truly is a hard thing to master. Libby and Katinka were digging out the last trench. Hattie, James and Alice were on the plumbing putting in the pipe work for the toilets, which has to be done right for if there are any leaks it’s deep under the ground and would be a hard job to fix.  After a check over by our plumber it had been done perfectly! Week finished and it was time for a nap on the beach before the walk over the hill to school.

Batiki May 11 - gap year Manuku

Gap volunteers launch a careers event for Batiki Island School!

With a careers day planned for the afternoon (a tremendous idea to bring to Batiki School by our volunteers!) our gap year team had to fit all their mind moulding into one morning! Ed gave a complicated maths lesson to class 7+8 while Scott and Rob continued with their English lessons. Amelia took the kids for music, the taught them ‘ing’ words, resulting in the whole class ‘spinning’ and being extremely dizzy! After lunch, part one of the careers event began with some of our career break volunteers and local Fijians talking about their jobs and the training involved to be teachers, builders, nurses and other professions within Fiji. Some great inspiration for the children, who came away talking of their future aspirations.

That night it was time for Amelia’s birthday party and what a party it was! 

gap year Batiki team 

Saturday 11th; Gap year sports competitions – TP v’s Yavu

It is a beautiful Saturday morning and our gap year team woke up to one of their biggest challenges of their project, the girls at 2.00pm will be playing netball against the yet unbeaten Yavu village and the lads will be playing rugby against the same village. The morning was spent running through last minute drills. It was then time for a big lunch then on the boats to motor across to the school pitch.

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Gap girls in a closely contested netball match against some incredibly competition!

Our girls kicked for the netball with a great start, knocking the Yavu ladies back with their skills learnt from home, we had mistress from class 7&8 doing great work scoring all over the place. At half time our gap year girls were ahead 8-7. The second half started well again for our girls but 5 minutes in the Yavu ladies found their feet and were back doing what they do best. Their height and strength really came good in the last 7 minutes and the beat our girls 15-11. It was a great game and the girls are all saying they want a rematch. I think so!!

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Rugby boys have an incredible triumph against Yavu!

It was then the lads turn to get ready for the big game. To say the least playing in your first Fijian rugby game can be scary, but our gap year guys were pumped and ready, the game kicked off and everyone was straight it, the first half was some of the best rugby yet on Batiki. The team were so equal it made for a tight first half; jack did some great cover work at full back to make sure the Yavu lads didn’t get through. First half score 0-0.

Batiki May 11 - gap year rugby

The second half the pace of the game didn’t slow up, but it got more physical to say the least. A slip in our back line saw Rex from Yavu slip threw and with a nice kick he won the sprint and scored. This did not but the boys down, Hywell and Scott in front row did great work working the ball up the field and Tom was bossing the lineouts. This lead to a great set play down the line to our Fijian number 8 Knox. His great pace took him over the line, he was about to dive but saw the lads screaming “between the posts!!” and set the ball down right in-between them, the ball was kicked putting TP and Manuku ahead 7-5. James came on at wing and had a few brilliant runs at the line only to be taken out by the Fijian lads, but he had no-fear all over his face. Yavu nearly scored in the last minute but it was turned over as the time went red and kicked out long and hard by Ray. Manuku and TP’s Gap Year Boys win!!

Batiki May 11 - gap year fun

Fundraiser evening for the kindergarten school

That night it was time for the Kindi fundraiser. Our gap year team had organised a Bingo and raffle night. With sweets and popcorn for sale at the back. With Scott calling the numbers it was great fun all night and the Ratu and Eroni winning the raffle, calls of “fix” were shouted around in laughter. $117.55 was raised for the Kindi which will go towards more books and materials. Truly it was a great day all round, with rematches next week it’s not over yet!!

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Sunday 12th; Time for some Fijian rest and relaxtion!

The team really needed this day, after a great week of practice for the school play, sports, build, school and Kindi it was time to sit in the hammocks by the beach and think on a fab week that has passed. And what to bring to the next week.

Monday 13th; Gap volunteers go the extra mile on a bank holiday

It’s a testament to the motivation of our May 2011 gap year team, than even on a National Holiday, our gap volunteers come into school and kindi to organise additional activities and plan their lessons ahead! As it was the Queens 2nd birthday it was a public holiday in Fiji, the kindi gap year team arrived with just one kindian, Feania! After running village to village to let the kids know kindi was still rocking it wasn’t long before we had a full kindi. The guys were straight into the songs and games after circle time, duck duck goose being the kids favourite. Real focus today was on letters and names. New kindi folders have been brought in, so now when the kids do great work the team can put them in the folders so the next team coming in can see progress and are not starting from scratch. First day of the week in kindi and another really productive start by our gap volunteers.

School was still of done to the public holiday, but it showed how much Scott, Rob,Ed and Amelia want the last day on rota to rock by coming across to prep for current affairs day next week!

On yet another baking hot day, the gap team were determined to absolutely smash the building volunteer project. Hattie and Anneka got straight to work measuring and cutting timber for the frame of a toilet cubicle while Libby, Hollie and Katinka climbed once again into the pit and finished the brick work. Hulk, James and Hannah helped Jimbo fit the septic tank. Yet another massive effort from this gap year rota’s builds team.

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Tuesday 14th; Current Affairs Lesson a great introduction to the school volunteer projects

For classes 5, 6, 7 and 8 today was the first current affairs lesson taken by our gap year volunteers, this saw the students reading and analysing articles from various Fijian newspapers. With so little access to the outside world, this insight into other nations is an intriguing concept for the students and they are fascinated by the unique world view beyond their tiny little island!

In class 1 and 2 Amelia was once again doing an amazing job. Master Vili has his work cut out trying to keep up with her as the kids follow her about the class and do all they can for her attention.

In school today the team were set and ready to rock. With Rob and Scott in 5+6 they took a class each and helped the kids with maths and English. Class 7+8 were lucky enough to have Ed as their teacher and were benefitting massively from it. He took them in the morning for a maths lesson on the volume and then assisted with a Social science lesson.

As it was the last day in kindi, the KW2 team (as they named themselves!) were ready to rock with an animal related sports day. The day started as usual with circle time followed by songs and games. Then came the fun! There were all sorts of events, ranging from Tug of Snake to a Jungle relay, closely followed by a competitive crab race! At the end of the day, both kindians and team alike were extremely tired, but very happy bunnies!

On the last day on the build for rota 2, the gap year girls wanted to put a big push on for Jimbo, our building legend. Anneka, Hattie and Libby were working on the last frame for the toilets. Katinka and Hollie were helping Jimbo with one of the septics, whilst James and Hulk worked on the trenches for the waste pipes. Very hot day but the team still put on the great show have done from the start. That night it was time to chill to a movie, die hard 3 the choice. Went down a storm with the Fijians! Boom!!

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Wednesday 15th; New gap year volunteers arrive in school and Kindi!

As the first day in the school for the new gap year teachers, nerves were high. However within a few minutes of going into the classes, they felt right at home. Jack stepped in to take 7+8 and was immediately involved in a rather complicated maths lesson, followed by a study of human anatomy. In 5+6, Alice took over the mantle and got to work helping out in an English lesson while Amelia remained in 1+2 to work her magic. The afternoon saw lessons finishing at half 2 for play rehearsal.

The new kindi volunteer team came in with a mix of excitement and nerves. With a plan laid out by the previous gap team, they were straight into action with Lego time! This was followed by circle time, when the team got a chance to learn all the kindians names and introduce themselves before the upcoming song and game time! As the kids showed the new team their impressive song repertoire, a mutual sense of excitement was brewing… next up was Duck, Duck, Goose! After snack time a long game of tails kicked off, resulting in some very tired kindians ready for sleeping lions. A brilliant start to the new rota!

Batiki May 11 - gap year fiji

It was the start of a new last rota for the gap year team on the build too, so it was game faces on and time to rock the volunteer project! Libby, Hannah and Anneka worked of the last of the septic lids for a few of the Fijian lads helping along the way. Sara and Naomi started work on the trenches for the water main. Tom was helping with the plumbing knocking through the block wall of a septic to put the waste pipes in. Hulk was doing his thing helping all around the build settling on the trench digging at the end. Epic first day on the last rota for build.

In the afternoon the team started the complete run through of the play with the school kids. To say the last it looked unreal. For something that these kids have never see or done before they have fallen into it like old pro’s. The scene change was a bit slow but that will be worked on over the next two days. Game time, Friday 3.30pm.

That night it was time for Fijian bracelet and bilo making. The team having to cut threw some coconuts to get the right shape then sand them down until they are nice a smooth. The Fijian ladies were there to weave some lovely rings and around the just made bracelets.

Batiki May 11 - Week 2&3 - Kindi

Thursday 16th; Big push for our gap year builders and volunteers hit their stride in school

Day 2 on the last rota of Kindi and the guys have settled on well. Tired kids and team all round. Great day in kindi.
School was another day in the office for Amelia, working her magic with the weaker kids on their English. Alice is really finding her feet in classes 5&6 working on dates and months of the year, with more current affairs in the afternoon, which is proving a real hit with the kids. Jack is really loving 7&8 and leading biology lessons.

As the second day of the build loomed, the gap year building team were psyching themselves up for a massive effort! Lots of measuring and cutting and plastering awaited our gap volunteers!

Batiki May 11 - week 2&3 - Alice's birthday

Friday 17th; Alice’s birthday and a huge day for Batiki District School

This Friday will turn out to be a very special day in Think Pacific history.  But first celebrations! Starting off the day it is Alice’s birthday, with cake in the morning we knew there was going to be one immense party that night. The gap year building team got off to a great start to the half day, pushing hard to get all the sceptics finished. The rest of the team then moved on to digging the rest of the trenches needed for the water pipes and with our gap volunteers in the zone, the pipes were getting fitted as fast as they were being dug! 

In kindi it was Katinka and Hollies’ last day, so the kindians were determined to make sure they weren’t forgotten. The team had made instruments the previous day, so these were dished out to the kids for song time, resulting in a lot of noise and laughter all round! The focus then turned to numbers, and by the end the older kids seemed to have it nailed. After snack time it was time for some heavy exercise in the form of tails and bulldog! The day ended with sleeping lions and story time, then the kids singing a goodbye song to the team.

Then it was onto the big event, Batiki District Schools First ever play!..

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Gap Year R&R Phase: Gap year fun and adventure in the Fiji Islands

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Monday 13th June – A sad farewell as our gap year volunteer leave Nasesara

With the entire gap year team dancing through the night with their family and friends in Nasesara, there was little sign of anyone heading to bed. They gathered on the sea wall to share the sun rise together before returning for yet more hop hop as the guitars rarely stopped in the hall.  After breakfasts with families that consisted of the team’s favourite dishes (custard pie was a common choice in the majority of households), final dances took place and emotions were higher than ever.

The village created a line leading from the hall all the way out to the boats to say their final farewells to the team. Words cannot quite justify the surreal feeling felt in the village this morning as we pulled away from Nasesara for the final time; tears filled the eyes of each and every villager and volunteer as they waved their final farewell.

Arriving back to Caqalai, our gap year team were not really sure what to do with themselves, many slept or lay on the beach, simply taking in the impact that the previous 8 weeks has had upon their lives.  After dinner, a spontaneous hop hop session suddenly emerged as the Caqali band played the team’s favourite songs from the village, it was an amazing feeling for us as we really realised what had been achieved over the project. The team congregated for their final de brief before heading to the main land tomorrow. We discussed highlights of the trip; both laughter and tears filled the room as we shared the individual impacts that Nasesara and Moturiki has had upon us all.

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Tuesday 14th June  – Back to reality!

Our gap team have landed back on the main land and we headed straight to the capital, Suva to pick up necessary supplies for the final 10 days in Fiji.  The bustling city with everything from Nandos to little coffee shops was quite a difference from subsistance life on Moturiki! We continued further along the coast and arrived at our first stop of the R and R stage in Pacific Harbour. The team found their bearings of the resort and local area. Rob and Handsome Tom were the very first to book their much needed massages tomorrow morning!  This evening, the team enjoyed supper together and relaxed over drinks and dancing with the bar man unsurprisingly being their new best friend!

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Wednesday 15th June – Relaxing at Pacific Harbour

The gap year team relaxed at Pacific Harbour today and despite the constant rain throughout the day, great fun was had by all. Whether having massages, playing golf (James had his first ever game), or playing Marco Polo and the Category game in the pool, the team were extremely content!  Many of the team had an early night in order to be ready and raring to go for the big day tomorrow. The partyers of the team saw in Miranda’s birthday with their favourite songs from the village on the playlist…”Hey Soul Sister…”

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Thursday 16th June - River Rafting! 

Happy birthday Miranda! 19 today! It’s always incredible to celebrate your big day on your gap year and today promised to be one to remember with adventure sports and parties to come! Today was an early start for the team as Miranda’s birthday would be spent on the Upper Navua River white water rafting with Rivers Fiji. The team had such a great day on the rapids and a lot of piracy took place on all boats. A particular highlight for the lucky ones that were able to see it was our very own team leader Ronnie flying over the top of two boats when trying to save fellow shipmates aboard HMS Gavui! Vinaka for the effort Ronnie! After lunch with some rather bizarre concoctions of jam and guacamole in sandwiches and a stop at the beautiful massage waterfall, the team continued down river to join the bus home.

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Happy Birthday Miranda! 

This evening, Club Oceanus kindly prepared a lovely meal to celebrate Miranda’s birthday followed by possibly the biggest and best chocolate cake known to man! Miranda was certainly a very happy birthday girl. Shortly after, she was not shy to hit the dance floor with fellow TPers late into the evening! A great day for the April team!

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Friday 17th June – Relaxing in Paradise at the Beachouse!

The volunteers hopped aboard Veejay’s wagon this morning to travel to the Beachouse and were met with sunshine and golden sands to excite them for the next few days ahead!

The gap team enjoyed each other’s company by the pool accompanied by a game of Mafia that hasn’t been played since the village as well as tanning competitions, mainly between Ronnie and Miranda. I feel this is going to be a well fought battle that will only be settled on the final night! Others enjoyed the pool table and table tennis as they really unwinded in the new resort. This evening, following a curry night with other guests, the team unleashed their competitive nature with multiple games of beer pong!

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Saturday 18th June – Swim time and games time.

The gap year team had the chance to really relax again today at the beautiful setting of the Beachouse. Whether by the pool or out on sea kayaks, the team were having great fun. They obviously all congregated for afternoon tea at 3.30 as everyone loves the scones, especially Mamma Mia! At sunset, the majority of the team gathered on the beach for a sandcastle competition judged by our very own leader, Ronnie! It was a fierce battle for first place and joint winners were the creative duos of Mia and James with their TP Shark as well as Handsome and Rob’s snake. How much fun can a group of gap year students have? The sunset was beautiful this evening and some awesome group shots were taken on the beach.

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Sunday 19th June  – Exploring the reefs by kayak and thinking of dad! 

Happy Father’s Day to all back in the UK! Today was another chance for the gap team to rest and recuperate in the glorious surroundings of the Beachouse. Many chose to explore the reef on the kayaks once again with Adam and Georgie forgetting the tide and having to walk back in! Others began the first rounds of the TP table tennis and pool tournaments.  After the incredible scones at afternoon tea, the team took part in their final quiz of the trip written by the leaders. Handsome, Matt, Mia and Calum were the worthy winners of the epic final quiz which included much randomness including family fortunes, R and R chants and even a spot of synchronised swimming, why not?  A great team day with lots of fun and laughter as we chatted about our favourite Nasesara times from our gap year volunteer project on Moturiki and even acted them out, much to the bemusement of other Beachouse guests!

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Monday 20th June – Gap year Surf lessons and pool competitions

Georgie, Miranda, Anthony and Adam hit the waves early for a surf lesson this morning which they greatly enjoyed while others continued with the on-going table tennis and pool competitions. Handsome was the eventual winner of the table tennis after a fierce final with Henry. The pool competition took a little longer than expected but the eventual victor was Ronnie with Matt taking the runner up prize! Today was our last full day at the Beachouse before heading Nadi side tomorrow, our gap year team relaxed by the pool and played volleyball before enjoying a quiet evening at the bar.

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Tuesday 21st June – Sky dive Fiji

Happy birthday Harry Hunter! Wheyyyyy! Today, the gap year team left the Beachouse early and headed Nadi side for their final stop of the Think Pacific. After a quick stop in Nadi town to pick up all the last minute souvenirs for all of you eagerly awaiting the team’s return back in the UK, the team hit Smuggler’s Cove beach to relax for the afternoon. The adrenaline junkies amongst our gap team were up, up and away into the South Pacific sky this afternoon to fall 14,000ft from a two seater plane! One of those things that must be done on any gap year! Ann and Julia were the very first two to go and beaming smiles could not be removed from their faces when they landed on the beach for hours after. This was a very similar response to the eight that followed; Ellie, Georgie, Handsome, Matt, Calum, Anthony, Miranda and Sazzerooooo! This evening, the gap team had their final de brief with Harry, where they could chat over their whole gap year and volunteer experience in detail before celebrating his birthday in style, party hats, Fijian sandals, cake and all!

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Wednesday 22nd June – Tall ship sailing cruise

Today the gap team boarded the Whale’s Tale tall ship and enjoyed a day sailing to Snorkel Island with other guests. What a way for Handsome Tom to spend his 22nd birthday! It was a great day, plenty of tanning, snorkelling, jumping off the boat and volleyball on the island, with the team keeping a close proximity to the bar!  Returning to Smuggler’s Cove this evening, the team had their final farewell party with the leaders before the majority fly out tomorrow. The emotional evening also saw the awards presented to each person before they embark on the rest of their travels.

Vinaka April 2011 team for a fantastic gap year project.

Vinaka Nasesara!

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Alice’s Fiji style Birthday!

Batiki May 11 - week 2&3 - Alice's birthday (1) Batiki May 11 - week 2&3 - Alice's birthday (2)

Alice celebrated her birthday Fiji style this week and it was certainly one she won’t forget in a long while! And with the whole team and community on a high from the play that day, it was only going to go one way. Party time! The village put on a great dinner, then it was time for some serious hop hop and grog.  As days in Fiji go, this was up there with the best! An Unbelievable celebration and great way to end an incredible day on Batiki Island.

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Gap Year Manuku: The whole island comes out to Party!

Gap year Fiji - Amelia Birthday  Gap year party-Amelia Birthday

It is always a special occassion when volunteers celebrate their birthdays in Fiji but without a doubt, Amelia’s bethday party was one of the biggest one we have seen!  The dinner was unreal showing what the Fijian ladies can really do! And villagers from across Batiki Island made a visit to celebrate. Amelia was dressed in the traditional masi outfit. She was given a huge cake and some gifts from the team. It was then hop hop time. Not everyone could fit in the hop hop shed, so the party spilled out onto the grass, with dancing and grog lasting through the night lasting through the night. Our gap year team certainly know our to work hard and play hard Fiji style!