Over the summer I went on a Rustic Pathways service trip to Fiji. Rustic Pathways is a teen service oriented teen travel group, with trips around the globe. In Fiji, I went on two different service trips: the “Village Education Project” and the “Green Island Service Project.” On the Village Education Project, I travelled in the back of a truck up the Fijian mountains to the remote Nasivikoso Village. Our project there was to help the Fijians who lived their construct a new school, cut down trees and dig for pipeline near the school, teach the children at the current school, and do various tasks to help out around the village. But, of course, we also played with the children and shared stories of our American culture. Working and living in such a poor village was a very interesting experience, as in both villages I went to I was able to observe and be in a society that is the complete opposite the one I live in, in New York City. On the Green Island Service Project, I travelled on a five hour ferry ride followed by an hour long boat ride to the extremely remote island of Malikati. Although Malikati was a little less poor than Nasivikoso (houses made from concrete vs wood, more access to electricity, clean water, etc.,) the village still needed a lot of work. the “project” was to help construct and paint an entire house for an elderly couple, along with doing various service tasks around the island. Again, we also played with the children there, shared stories, and went kayaking and swimming in the incredible Fijian waters.
Although both trips were part of my “vacation,” going on these service trips really changed the way I view the world and provided a very meaningful experience for me. The moment I returned to New York, I found myself standing still, looking at the tall buildings and technology for a while each day. The difference is indescribable, and I could never live in these parts of Fiji for my entire life, but seeing how happy and fun the Fijians are made me realize that I am lucky for what I have and where I live in the world. For them, clean water was a luxury. I will never forget my trip to Fiji, and have actually communicated with some of the Fijian friends I made there via Facebook.