The Time of Her Life in The 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. Arabella Llewelyn shares below her experience of the program.

On 22 July, the Year 9 cohort departed St Catherine’s at 8.15am on an experience nothing could prepare us for. Upon arrival in Fiji, we were all excited beyond words and could not comprehend that after one more night we would be fully immersed in a culture only a few of us had experienced before.

After our first night away from home, we split into our villages and we began our travels to the Highlands, stopping off at a fruit market to try some unique Fijian fruits and the famous pineapple we all fell in love with. Back into our four-wheel drives and we made our way up the steep and rocky mountains, stopping off at a breathtaking lookout to further prove to us that we were in the Highlands and that it was not a dream.

A couple of hours later, we arrived and were greeted by multiple kids hanging off our arms, with “bula” being said left, right and centre and countless games of duck, duck, goose being played. We had arrived at our home for the next two weeks and we could not have been more happy with our new family and surroundings.

A weekday would consist of either being woken by the roosters or by Tom (our Destination Dreaming leader) with his extremely talented vocal chords. We would all wake up excited for what the day would hold and head next door to eat some breakfast which was always cooked to perfection by the Nei Nei’s (Aunties) of the village. We would say “vinaka na karna” (thank you for the food) and we would be off to the school for the next couple of hours, helping in the classroom, making some new friends and of course, playing duck, duck, goose.

Back to the village after school to have an hour or two of downtime before the kids of the village arrived back from school. When the kids did eventually arrive home, we would be outside playing netball and learning hand claps. This was a contrast to what we might do when we get home from school in Melbourne. We come home and go on our phones for a while and then commence the long process of homework. I think we all preferred the Fijian styled afternoon.

Depending on the weather, we would walk down to the river to have a swim or take part in a cultural experience like weaving banana leaves or sulu painting. Dinner was later in the evening and sometimes a couple of the St Catherine’s girls would help in the kitchen to assist in making dinner. The meals were different to what we were used to but it was something we would all look forward to as the food was always delicious and to our surprise would sometimes consist of just cake, which none of us complained about.

On the weekends, it would be slightly different as we had activities and journeys planned for us like a waterfall visit with our Fijian family, Sunday church, playing with the kids, and of course, practice for the Village Games.

Village Games is something we had all been looking forward to from the beginning but we had no idea it would turn out the way it did. We performed our village dance first which was followed by sports and song. We had such a fun day reuniting with the girls from the other villages and hearing about their experiences that were similar but so different to ours. At the end of the day, the results were announced and the Navaga Ninjas took out the win of Village Games 2019! The win topped off the day and we could not wait to return back to the village to celebrate.

It is safe to say that we all had the time of our lives and would do anything to go back to that special place we call our second home and fall back into the routine that was run off ‘Fiji time’.

Thank you to all the staff and people who were involved in creating this amazing journey for us all, we had the best time and cannot wait to eventually return to our second home.

Heyington to Highlands Showcase Night

The Year 9 cohort will share their experiences of the 2019 Heyington to Highlands program with their teachers, families and peers at the Heyington to Highlands Showcase Night on Thursday 12 September at 7.00pm.

Arabella Llewelyn

Year 9 Student

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