Last week, Peace Corps Fiji Group 91 had our final training and conference. Traditionally, this is the fanciest and most expensive of all the trainings. It was the last time I will see most of the people I spent the last two years with. However, as I am not leaving, I did not feel as sentimental as many other volunteers.
We stayed at a nice resort, The Pearl, on the beach in Pacific Harbor. The rooms had hot water, air conditioning, and big-screen TVs. The ocean comes right up to the edge of the resort and Beqa Island, where I did a shark dive, can be seen from the bar. Peace Corps paid for delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets for us that included steak, shrimp, lamb, and omelets.
I learned that Peace Corps approved my extension of service for another year, pending a few conversations and confirmations from my village’s headman and school’s headmaster. I will be changing from a Health volunteer to a Youth Empowerment volunteer, which I am very excited about. The headmaster wants me to teach a literacy intervention program. I love this as I was already doing it last year under the old headmaster and I love teaching reading and writing.
The conference was only two days but it was nice to see everyone for one last time to catch up and say farewell. I hope to see many of them in the United States somewhere down the line. But for the next year it is only me and one other girl from my group, Kito, who are staying behind. Then I will travel the world for a while before returning home.
In the training we had to do a small exercise. We were given a sheet of paper that said “Fiji is…” and a blank space underneath. The first word that came to my mind was “Home.” Fiji has become a second home for me. A home away from home. I have friends and family here, an amazing girlfriend, and everywhere I go someone on the street stops me to say hello. I can’t imagine a better place to spend the next year of my life.
During the conference we also had a farewell kava ceremony with the staff, learned how to cope with returning to the states, took a lot of pictures, and told each other what we planned on going back to. Most of my group only has two months left here. I cannot imagine going home yet.
Over the next year, in addition to teaching the literacy intervention program, I plan to help my village fund and build a hydroelectric dam. This will provide consistent electricity to a village that has only ever had power from a generator for a couple of hours every night. They could make ice to keep and sell fish and manufacture lumber from their pine trees, both of which would generate income. These people live so far from town that they cannot live here and hold a job, so a steady income would change their lives dramatically.
Here are some videos from the conference:
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