Freeman Catholic College Bonnyrigg Year 10 students had no worries during an immersion trip to Fiji for social outreach and a taste of the local culture.
A group of 13 students and six staff members visited Natamata and Nabila primary schools during their seven day immersion trip to Nadi, Fiji’s third-largest region. While there they helped build, cook meals, and read to the children.
Teacher Stephanie Ackaoui said the group was welcomed with a Kava ceremony, dancing and a traditional meal, and learnt local phrases including “Sega na leqa” – no worries.
“Most memorable of the experience was the hospitality offered by the Fijian people. Our school community was welcomed with arms wide open,” she said. “The library of these schools consisted of only one or two shelves of dated books and seemingly limited resources. The simplicity and joy lived by the young children and their teachers is a lesson that our students and staff will never forget.”
Students Marco La Greca and Annarita Palozzo said they enjoyed the experience.
“It’s really good to open your eyes to other cultures,” said Marco, 15. “I guess we live kind of sheltered lives here and we don’t get to see the poverty people are facing around the world. The thing that probably struck me the most is how happy they are with what little they have.”
The Freeman students’ visit left the schools with new facilities including a computer lab and teachers’ quarters.
“The construction of the computer labs would probably be the most significant thing,” Marco said. “With the internet they can share ideas and learn so much more than with a few books in the classroom.”
Annarita Palozzo, 16, said the group began their immersion with a visit to a local church and ended with some island hopping. They also donated books and stationary they had collected before leaving Australia. “It was really enjoyable and a good eye-opener to a different culture,” she said.
“Every day we’d do some form of community work. We made lunch for some of the kids, dug holes for water tanks and did some other construction work. My favourite part would be spending time with the kids at the primary school. We got to tell stories with them, play games and do some art and craft.”