Fiji, the island state in the south pacific, is a wonderful place for volunteer work. There are paradisiac beaches, luscious fauna and a tropical climate. Fiji extends over 300 islands of which only a few are inhabited by the indigenous people.
People and culture
Fijians were officially named iTaukei in 2010. Most of them live in a region informally called Melanesia. The first settlers came about 3,500 years ago, but it is unknown from where. During the time of colonialization a lot of Europeans and Indians came to the islands and today’s society is a mix of all these cultures.
Initially the school system was built very similarly to the English system. But over time it developed and today a lot of schools are separated by ethnicity. There are efforts to lower school costs to open the educational field to the poorer community.
This is why a lot of schools are understaffed and volunteer teachers are needed. GVI and AFS help adults who want to do volunteer work as assistant teachers to travel to Fiji and support local communities.
There are three official languages on Fiji: Fijian, Fiji Hindi and English. Fijian is closely related to other Polynesian languages and is spoken by about half of the population. Fiji Hindi is primarily spoken by people of Indian descent. The language is historically stigmatized as it was originally used by the lowest social class.
More than 80% of Fijians are farmers and amongst the biggest export products are sugarcane, ginger, rice, coffee and tobacco. The typical Fijian cuisine is composed of most of these products. Fish is also heavily used, both sweet and salt water fish. Due to Fiji’s ideal location they are abundantly available. Tropical fruit like pineapple are used, too, and you can also find influences of Indian, Chinese and European cuisine.