Fiji in Love - by Kezia Brooks

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Most post-HSC students spend their first year out of school at university, working full-time jobs or doing a trade. But for four local school leavers based in Manly, Freshwater and Allambie Heights, they are spending their time in Fiji teaching, equipping and encouraging locals in many small villages around the mainland of Fiji with their gap year course Year 13.

We recently spoke with Josh Hawkins, one of the gap year students who shared his thoughts on the cultural differences and how the team of over 90 is finding the time abroad in the South Pacific Island.

“The one thing I miss is hot showers and my surfboard. Since arriving on the 18th June I have slept with a mosquito net over my sleeping bag and braced the cold tap water each morning before going into small villages to teach and serve.”

“We just had homestays, where we were broken up into groups of two or three and lived with family homes for several nights. It was so humbling; these families gave up their beds for us and slept on the floor, and they only ate when we had finished our meals. When we were in these homestays, we taught in the local school running classes, games and activities for the students.”

The school leavers are in Fiji for a month travelling around visiting many villages and spending time with locals. Many are finding the transition between cultures difficult, particularly the poverty and need compared to their life in the Northern Beaches. However, they have been greatly encouraged by the joy and contentment of the Fijians despite their lack of material possessions and money.

“It is amazing to see the kids and youth here in Fiji who are happy and care so much for each other. When I come back home, I want to be less materialistic and more relational with those around me” said Josh Hawkins.

These gap years’ will come back changed, motivated and see life in a more Pacific Islander way.

So what will you do after finishing school, study or a busy year of work? Why not go and volunteer, it changes lives, gives you perspective and creates amazing memories you’ll treasure for the rest of your life!