Teaching in Fiji by Hannah Baddick
My time in Fiji was, to describe it in one word, brilliant; an experience I would recommend to almost anybody. Before I tell you my story, here is a bit about myself. My name is Hannah, I am 22 and I graduated from university less than a month before I left home to embark on a 4 month trip with Fiji being my first stop.
It became my destination choice after much deliberation and it stood out mainly because of the beauty it boasts, along with the lively culture that the place and people seemed to hold. I had wanted to find a teaching placement from the outset because my degree was in Primary Education. Before searching for a job in England, I was keen to explore the world and experience teaching in an entirely different culture and climate and compare the two, hopefully gaining from it and being able to give something in return.
As my plane descended into Nadi Airport, an unknown world, and as my jet-lag was at its worst it suddenly dawned on me what I had volunteered to do and how much I had removed myself from the comfort zone of England. This did not last for long though as before I knew it I was whisked away from the airport to my new home where I met my host Mum, Katarina, and another teaching volunteer also living there, who quickly became my friend. It was a privilege to stay there for the month, meeting Katarina’s family and, to a small extent, living her life. She and her family were so welcoming and hospitable; the household was never short of a smile. It was also a gastronomically pleasurable experience eating Katarina’s food, she still hold’s first prize in my mind for world’s best cook!
The month I was in Fiji was mostly spent in the Nadi Airport School with Class 3T. Through discussions with the teachers I soon learnt that this is a Government funded school and is very fortunate. This is true in comparison to many other Nadi schools; with each class having its own teacher, and the school usually having running water and electricity. Nevertheless every day I was accosted by an explosion of smiles and greetings, constantly presented with handmade cards and letters and, on occasions, showered with gifts.
The children were fascinated with this alien that had landed in their town and so for a few mornings on the first week we had question time.......ask Miss Hannah!
For the most part my time in school was deeply rewarding, providing me with innumerable memories and supplying me with many a story to tell, shaping who I am as a teacher. I would, however, be telling a lie if I didn’t also note that for me it was a challenging and often testing experience which is most likely a result of having preconceived expectations of how I believe teaching should be. Of course it was very different to England and my previous experiences so at times I found myself itching to take control and do what I thought, even though it wouldn’t always have been correct.
The ideal thing about the teaching in Fiji though is that you can personalise it to suit your preference. Many of the other volunteers mainly wanted to, and were able to, act as a teaching assistant in the classroom and so did just that. If however you are like me and want to do more, you are also able to, and the teachers are more than happy to let you, take over from them. But be warned: even though I had been asking it still came as a slight shock when one morning I was handed the responsibility for the entire days teaching with the first lesson commencing in 5 minutes.
By far my most rewarding time in school was the day the teacher was attending a workshop and I was acting as a supply teacher. With full responsibility I was slightly nervous, particularly as the children did have a tendency to be a little bit uncontrollable and noisy. The day ran very smoothly however and at the end, just before they went home, we had some time left so I decided to play a game with them. This was a complete novelty. It wasn’t a particularly exciting game in my eyes, but the day’s literacy had been based on anagrams so the game was to make an anagram of their own name; the winner being whoever’s name was the most impossible to unscramble. The response from the children was overwhelming and I left that day with a grin spanning from ear to ear.
A few days later my time in school had come to an end, but the children threw me a surprise party and had made a cake....Bon Voyage Miss Hannah.
My weekends in Fiji were mostly filled by exploring surrounding villages and discovering what the western Islands had to offer. One of my most funny experiences was a day to the Sabeto Mud baths, just a short drive from Nadi. A group of about 14 volunteers were keen and so we headed to the bus station to find minivans. After much deliberation with the drivers we were off in the back of two trucks, bouncing around along the dirt track towards our destination.
To our assuming westerners eyes it all seemed a little primitive with the facilities essentially being ponds, but it really was so much fun and I would highly recommend it to anybody visiting Nadi. We had so many laughs with the bottom of the slimy mud pond between our toes and then covering our bodies in the stuff; if I had had more time in the country I would definitely have paid them a second visit.
On other weekends we caught the boat to some of the relaxing islands lining the west. On these occasions we were able to read in the sun and snorkel the coral reef, I even met Nemo! This was of course until the gong was sounded for the evenings feast and the cinema under the stars.
I left Fiji some months ago now and still I miss it and the many wonderful volunteers I met throughout the short month I spent there. My only regret is that I didn’t volunteer for longer. I will forever remember it as a place filled with smiles, sun and good times.
Once again I thank you Projects Abroad, this experience has changed my life.