Fiji 2017: Service, Sport, Surfing, and Sustainability

In this once-in-a-lifetime travel experience to the tropical paradise of Fiji, students are immersed in the island’s culture and communities on a sport, surf, and service-related adventure. While Fiji’s beauty is unmatched, it is a country with great need, and students work not only to protect coral reefs while learning about the customs, dances, and rich life of native Fijian cultures, but also provide essential services to local populations on a daily basis. Students work with several organizations, living with and integrating into local island communities while engaging in sports-related services for young people, mentoring local youth, helping with sustainable food systems and coral reef preservation, and supporting the maintenance of structures and daily life in villages. Throughout, students reside in a stunning beachside environment. In between days of work and service, students snorkel, canoe, visit mud caves, and bask in the beauty of the culture and natural surroundings.

Following 12 days in the northern island communities, students travel to the Coral Coast of the mainland for a service-related sustainable surf experience. While staying at Fiji’s first certified sustainable surf resort, students have the rare opportunity to experience Fiji’s top surf locations under the guidance of local experts, instructors, and lifeguards. Students also visit local organizations, such as orphanages and after-school programs in the area. Nonsurfing activities include fishing, yoga, stand-up paddleboard, visiting the native village of Vunaniu to experience its culture and customs, and viewing Fiji’s national sport of rugby.

Essential questions for this course include “How do Fiji’s geography, climate, and natural resources affect the way Fijians live?” “How does cultural preservation empower youth in the face of adversity?” “How can a foreigner come to understand the unique cultural aspects of Fiji’s communities and work with cultural humility to help?” “How does ecotourism affect true ecological sustainable development in native cultures?” The educational focus of cultural preservation and understanding, ecological sustainability, and youth sport-related service and education, while immersed in Fijian culture and beauty, makes this experience a life-changing one.