Well hello there everyone! All 26 of our FRE-9 (Fiji Re-Entry 9 group) have made it safe and sound into Fiji. After one day of training and introductions in Los Angeles, we boarded our flight to Fiji at 11:30 PM on the 17th. After our 10h and 40m flight to Fiji arriving at 5:10am on the 19 (no May 18th this year, thank you International Date Line for the time travel!) where we were greeted at the Nadi (said Nandi) International Airport in Fiji by current PCVs and staff. After loading our tired selves and all our ridiculously large bags into a bus, we made our way to Pacific Harbour, a 2 1/2 hour drive) to arrive at our first training facility.
Our group was welcomed by receiving sulus (wrap around skirts that tuck in and come down to your ankles) that say PC Fiji and have an emblem for the 50th PC anniversary on them. The PCVs and staff welcomed us with a sevusevu, a welcoming ceremony where Scott, our groups oldest male, was the guest of honor. Kava is a huge part of Fijian culture and trust me there will be a whole blog post about how a kava ceremony is preformed and all that later. But for now, know that kava is a member of the pepper family and the roots are soaked and mushed up in water to make a kind of muddy looking drink that is passed around in a bilo (halved coconut shell). The kava produces a numbing effect on the tongue and after a few rounds of passing the bilo, can lead to a slightly intoxicated feeling. After our sevusevu, we had sessions all afternoon about safety, language, medical and technical aspects of our training. After our training for the afternoon we headed down to the beach and played around in the wonderfully warm South Pacific waters and ate some fresh coconut!
The food here is phenomenal, we have had lots of Indian food and lots of dalo (taro). For breakfasts we have been having bananas, papayas, breadfruit, pineapple, watermelons and other delicious local foods. My favorite so far has been dalo leave stuffed with coconut creme, literally tastes like heaven. Once we move in with our host families on Monday we will be expected to help in the cooking and I will learn more of the actual names and ways to prepare these things!
Yesterday we had water safety training where we learned about some of the hazards present and got to enjoy playing around in the water. After our training we all had to get our immunizations updated which meant that I got three shots. Boo… but all of us had at least 3-4 and are still all complaining of sore arms… Once that was completed and we had lunch, we boarded another bus to head up to Nadave (said Nandave) where we are currently staying and will be until monday when we move in with our host families.
In Nadave we are staying in bures, little homes made out of palm branches. Today we had our first language training session where we learned how to greet people and introduce ourselves, ask and say where we are going to and where we are coming from, and how to say simple actions like what we are doing at the moment. This would be a typical dialogue… it goes Fijian, phonetics, then English.
Yadra. (Yandra) (Good Morning)
Na yacaqu o Samantha. (Na yathongu o Samantha) (My name is Samantha)
O cei na yacamu? (O thei na yathamu?) (What is your name?)
‘O iko lako i vei? (Where are you going?)
Au lako i Nasouri. (I am going to Nasouri)
Na cava ‘o cakava tiko? (Na thava o thakava tiko?) (What are you doing?)
Au teitei tiko. (I am gardening now)
We are working with language and cultural facilitators to help us get to a point where we can say basic things before we move in with our host families.
When we got to Nadave, we were give our smaller groups that we will be in for the remaining weeks of PST (pre service training). My group is 5 people (including me) and we will all be learning Fijian and living in a rural Fijian village (which I currently forgot the name of… I will update that ASAP). We were also given large tin lock boxes full stuff like mosquito nets, blankets, a pillow, a water filter, and lots of books and manuals to help us through training. Four people in our group will be learning Hindi and living in an Indo-Fijian settlement.
We all get split up on monday to go with our host families and I’m looking forward to meeting my new Fijian host family. It will be a great time to learn practical skills and utilize the language training in a real setting. I can’t wait to go fishing with my host mother! I think I can speak for our whole group when I say that we are sad to be split apart… even though its only been a few days, these people feel like family and we have become so close. Luckily we will all be meeting up on thursdays for our center days to come together as a larger group and learn about culture and other things. Thursdays are also the days I will have internet from now on and they will also be bringing mail in from the capital on thursdays for us.
Fiji is absolutely incredible but it still feels so surreal to be here.
I am at an internet cafe in Nasouri right now which is about 3o minutes from the capital Suva. We came into town today to pick up some things for our transition into host family life like toilet paper, antibacterial soap, detergent bars, mosquito coils, etc. The mosquitos (namu) are pretty bad right now… we have all been issued large cans of bug spray and huge medical kits to aid in the prevention of infection etc.
No pictures yet… they are still on my camera and i will upload those as soon as its actually reasonable to do so. As I said before expect an update about once a week when we come in for our center days. Hope all is well with everyone back home, and I especially hope you Washingtonians are enjoying the cool weather still!
Until next time… vinaka vakalevu! (thank you very much!)