Fiji | Community Service

Community Building, Remote Islands, & Tropical Tides

Join us for three weeks in the South Pacific on this summer community service program in Fiji. During your student travel program in Fiji, work alongside community members to complete a small-scale construction project and volunteer your time at the local kindergarten. Experience this unique culture first-hand as you get to know our Fijian hosts and explore the mountains, coast, and coral reefs of this charming island nation.

Dates:
  • June 25, 2018  –  July 16, 2018
  • July 17, 2018  –  August 7, 2018
At A Glance:
  • Adventure
    Outdoor exploration, hiking, biking, swimming, and other active pursuits
    Adventure
  • Beach
    Stay on the ocean with time to swim, surf, boat, or snorkel
    Beach
  • Service
    Focus on community-based projects in collaboration with a partner village
    Service
Eligibility:
Completing grades 9 – 12
US Gateway City:
Los Angeles
Focus:
Community Service
Duration:
22 days
Typical Group:
14 – 16 students, 2 leaders
Tuition:
$ 4,890 + airfare

 

Highlights

  • Volunteer with community members on a construction project at the local school
  • Try your hand at spearfishing or dive in search of endangered giant clams
  • Snorkel or SCUBA some of Fiji’s phenomenal coral reefs with marine biologist guides
  • Immerse yourself in Fijian culture during a traditional kava ceremony

Leader Profile: SEAN O’CONNOR

Education: University of California, Santa Barbara, B.S., Geography, Georgetown University, M.A., Communication, Culture, and Technology

While at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Sean studied the physical world through the lens of geography, which took him to the mountains of… read more

While at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Sean studied the physical world through the lens of geography, which took him to the mountains of South Africa, the desert ecosystems of the American Southwest, and beyond. After graduating, Sean moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the National Geographic Society where he conducted research for the magazine, designed maps, and created interactive mapping technologies for use in classrooms. Sean also founded and helps direct a nonprofit organization called FUEL Youth, which builds schools in Liberia. Sean now works as a certified life and leadership coach, supporting people and businesses to create outstanding results in their lives and organizations. He hosts a podcast called Joy Riders that explores all the ways that joy is created in the world. Sean has led a National Geographic Student Expeditions program in Fiji as well as Putney’s Cultural Exploration program in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji as well as Community Service Fiji.  

Itinerary

Departure • Travel Day • Meet your leaders and fellow students in Los Angeles and travel to Nadi, Fiji, continuing on to the island of Taveuni. One day is lost while crossing the International Date Line. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Matei, Taveuni • 2 days • Taveuni, the third largest of over 330 islands that make up the nation of Fiji, is known as the “Garden Island.” Removed from the hustle and bustle of the main island of Viti Levu, Taveuni has a laid-back, island-time way of life and is home to remote beaches as well as lush inland rainforest. Explore the famous Bouma waterfalls, stand with one foot in the present and one in the past as you straddle the International Date Line, and float down natural waterslides at remote falls. Learn about Fijian culture as you prepare to immerse yourself in village life.

Host Village • 14 days • Fijians are considered to be among the most friendly and hospitable people on earth. Upon arrival in the host village, take part in a meke, or traditional dance, and a traditional sevu sevu ceremony with village leaders as the group is warmly welcomed into the community. Spend the first day settling into your new home, getting to know each other, and participating in an in-depth orientation to Fijian life. Meet with community members to review plans and goals for service work during your stay. Volunteer projects may include constructing a classroom at the elementary school, painting the village meeting hall, planting a community garden, or teaching English to the kindergarten class. During the day, work on service projects and immerse yourself in the community, and spend the afternoon and evening getting to know your new friends and the Fijian landscape.

Watch fire dancers on our community service program in Fiji

Excursions • Explore all that Fiji has to offer on excursions from your host village. The Fijian Archipelago is home to one of the most extensive ranges of coral reef in the world. Head out to snorkel or SCUBA among the abundant marine life or travel inland to hike in Fiji’s lush mountain forests, stopping along the way for a swim in a waterfall or to sample fresh, native fruits. Take a spear-fishing lesson or explore the marine life of the coral reefs. Take a boat to neighboring islands to relax on isolated beaches, and join in a game of club rugby or volleyball with local teenagers.

Return to Matei, Taveuni • 2 days • Return to Taveuni to explore this rich marine ecosystem and the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkel the Rainbow Reef or, if you are certified, dive the Great White Wall.

Nadi, Viti Levu • 2 days  • Wrap up your South Pacific community service adventure at a rustic resort on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu. During the last few days of your trip, relax on white-sand beaches, explore the multicultural city of Nadi, and visit artisan markets, hot springs, and mud baths. Contrast the bustling and westernized way of life in Nadi with the slow-paced traditional life experienced in your host village. Use this time to reflect as a group on time spent immersed in this incredible culture.

ReturnTravel Day • Fly with your group and leaders from Nadi, Fiji, to Los Angeles. Continue to your final destination on a connecting flight. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.

This was the trip of a lifetime. Every single second of the three weeks was a highlight of my summer and my life. The leaders, destination and the village we worked in made this the most unforgettable trip I have ever been on.

— Ethan W., Whitney M. Young Magnet HS, Chicago, IL

A Day in the Life: HOST VILLAGE

Though every day of this student travel abroad program is a bit different, here is a snapshot of a typical day in our host village.

7 AM  Breakfast
8 AM  Community service work alongside our village hosts
12 PM  Lunch and time to relax
1 PM  Continue to work on service projects
4 PM  Play volleyball, go fishing or snorkeling, or work on independent projects
6 PM  Help prepare dinner
7 PM Dinner as a group
8 PM  Group Meeting and evening activities with our village hosts

Students swim and snorkel at world-class beaches on our community service program in Fiji

What to Expect

Community Service This summer program in Fiji is designed to provide the opportunity to learn about another culture by forming meaningful relationships with local people and undertaking a shared community service experience together. You should come to the summer with an open mind, eager to participate in new experiences and interested in exploring another culture and way of life. During your travel in Fiji, you can expect to participate in several different service experiences — constructing a classroom at the elementary school, painting the village meeting hall, planting a community garden, or teaching English to the kindergarten class. All students participate in each of the group’s projects on a rotating basis, and everyone lends a hand in meal preparation and cleanup. You can expect to complete 70 hours of community service work. To learn more about our Community Service summer abroad programs, click here.

Independent Project •  Pursue an independent project and explore an aspect of local culture of particular interest to you—start an afterschool arts or sports club for students, shadow a fisherman to learn about sustainable fishing practices, or learn a traditional Fijian dance and song.

Physical Activity This is a physically active program. Working on volunteer projects, swimming, kayaking, and hiking are all activities in which you might participate during this program. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities.

Accommodations In our host village in Fiji, the group lives in a community building or house at the center of town. Accommodations are basic — we use sleeping bags and sleeping pads on the floor. There are simple bathrooms and running water. There is limited electricity. During excursions, accommodations range from rustic beachside bungalows to dormitory-style accommodations at a beach resort. Leaders reside together with the students throughout the program.

Meals: Many Fijian dishes incorporate seafood, tubers, and hearty vegetables. In our host village, we eat delicious home-cooked meals prepared by local women. Each day, a few students help to cook meals. Students may also have the opportunity to shop for food at the local market with our cooks. During excursions, the group eats most meals in restaurants.

This is Ellinor’s third trip with Putney. Each trip has meet all of our expectations and beyond.

— Aimee and Jonathan Cangalosi, Cornelius, NC

Ask Us

Call Heather at 802.387.5000 or email heather@goputney.com

The Community Service Fiji summer program is directed by Heather Weas.  If you have questions, are interested in receiving more detailed information, or would like to talk further about the program or any of our summer student travel programs, please get in touch!

Heather Weas

Montana State University, B.A., Global Multicultural Studies and Francophone Studies

While at Montana State University, Heather studied abroad in Morocco and France and worked in the study abroad office as an advisor to outgoing exchange students. Before she came to work for Putney, Heather lived and worked in China and the U.S. leading outdoor education programs. Heather has led Putney’s Cultural Exploration Australia, New Zealand, & Fiji program, Community Service Fiji, and a custom program to Morocco. She organizes programs in China, Morocco, and Oceania. Heather enjoys rock climbing, running, biking, long backpacking trips in the woods, and spending as much time outdoors as possible.