Life Changing Perspectives in the Fiji Highlands
On Monday 22 July, the Year 9 cohort embarked on an 11-day adventure in Fiji as part of the specialist Year 9 program, Heyington to Highlands. Ciara Jenkins shares below her experience of the program.
Our time at Nasivikoso was life changing. We were opened up to a whole new way of living that many of us had never been exposed to before. Upon arriving in Fiji, many of our group, myself included, had not yet been hit with the realisation that many of us would be leaving Fiji with entirely new perspectives on our busy Melbourne way of living.
Our first night in Fiji was spent at a resort in Nadi. The following morning, we all piled into Toyota Prados – our journey to the Highlands had begun. After a two hour road trip through the winding Fijian Highlands, we finally arrived in Kenani. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the Fijians, who were total strangers to us all at this point, in the most welcoming manner I could have imagined.
‘Fiji Time’ was the most immediate source of worry, confusion and adjustment for our group. Having just transitioned from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne to the serene Fijian Highlands, we still found it incredibly hard to grasp the concept of literally disregarding all knowledge of time and, instead, taking a step back and letting things happen in natural order, without having the worry of being late or early.
Our second day in the Highlands was a day of great importance to us – it was the first day we would venture down into Nasivikoso, and the school. None of us were able to comprehend the welcome we received from the school. We arrived, and within the few minutes Clint, our destination dreaming leader, was prepping us for what would come, it seemed the entire school spilled out of their classrooms during their class time to stand patiently outside, waiting for us to be given the all clear to come play. And for the entire week, we received nothing but laughter and happiness from all of the Fijian children we had the pleasure and the privilege to spend time with.
Our trip also consisted of many cultural sessions, hikes, and lots of reflection, to name a few. During our daily reflections, one of our activities was that we had to list one good thing that had happened throughout the day, one hard thing and one funny thing. Without fail, there was always a group of girls who would mention the dreaded and deadly hike back up to Kenani after our day at the school as their ‘hard’. So, it was to our satisfaction that on Saturday, there was rain, and thus, it became too slippery for us to take the hike back up to Kenani, so instead, to Mr Racina’s dismay, we had to opt for a longer, yet less steep path, which proved to be a bit easier on the calves and quads.
Many highlights of the trip included the hike to the amazing waterfall, the village games (Nasivikoso took home third place, but was awarded an ‘A’ for effort), the food (in particular the much-sought-after doughnuts and pineapple) and the many quality hours spent with our Kenani family. But the lessons we learnt while in the Highlands, most of which were made apparent to us by the kids we were supposedly teaching, far surpass any hike we took, or any river swim. These lessons, and the selflessness taught to us while in the Highlands, will forever be with us, and we will never forget this experience of a lifetime. A big thank you to ‘the Clint’, Mr Racina, Ms Reddish, Ms Andrews, Sally, Coco and Georgie for accompanying us to the highlands; the work you did to help us have the best possible time has not gone unnoticed.