GO Student Ambassadors, Summer Programmes

Sienna Adderley

School of Journalism, Media and Culture

Summer volunteering placement

Where did you go?

I volunteered in Fiji with the charity, Think Pacific. I volunteered in Verevere village in Ra province before leading a project the following summer in Muanaira in the province of Tailevu.

What motivated you to take up a Global Opportunity?

I have always wanted to experience as much of the world as possible and being able to volunteer whilst doing so was a huge motivational factor for me. I never thought it was something I would actually be able to achieve, but when the opportunity arose with Global Opportunities, I could not sign up quick enough. They enabled me to travel to the other side of the world, whilst providing support both pre-departure, and during my time abroad. It really helped to put me at ease as I knew Global Opps were always there to answer any questions and help me make the most of my time abroad; the bursary was also an incredibly influential factor in my decision to go abroad, as it can often be a costly process, but the generous bursary from Global Opportunities meant that the cost was no longer such a limiting factor. Lastly, being able to volunteer during my time as a Cardiff student has meant I have formed many friendships, both with people on my project, but also people who have completed similar projects; friendships that have carried over into university life, and I now live with some of the people that I went abroad with.

What were your top three highlights from your time abroad?

  1. When we first arrived into the village I was completely overwhelmed; to receive such a warm welcome from the village meant everything to me. It is a huge honour and privilege to be accepted into a Fijian village, and something that not many people are able to experience. The children all lined the entrance to the village and chased the bus in, while all the adults greeted us with smiles, hugs and big Fijian ‘Bulas!’. Our village was easily the most beautiful place I have ever been, and the overwhelming sense that, even though I was on the other side of the world I immediately felt  completely at home, hit me and I just burst into tears!
  2. Every day after school, on the walk home, we would stop off, either in the waterfall or at the beach. All of the children would come with us and all of the volunteers would just turn into big kids; splashing around, jumping in and losing all inhibitions. It was a feeling of complete freedom and a chance to forget about all the worries and stresses of student life as, in that moment, we were all children again.
  3. Every Friday night in the village was a highlight for me. The whole village would come together in the village hall for an evening of music and dancing. We would all enjoy some Kava (the traditional drink of Fiji) whilst the villagers would play traditional songs. We would all be encouraged to get up and participate in ‘Hop Hop’ (Fijian dancing) and it was a great chance to get to know the villagers outside of your family, and for all the volunteers to spend time together. It provided some of the funniest moments of project and was a chance to get fully immersed in Fijian life and culture.

What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

Personally, I occasionally struggled with the intensity of project and the high levels of energy required. It could sometimes be difficult to sleep in the village with the various animals, included but not limited to chickens, goats, horses, frogs and pigs, making noise throughout the night, as well as the early morning call to church, consisting of very loud drums. This meant that some days I would go into school with lowered levels of energy, which becomes difficult when surrounded by hundred of Fijian children that are always full of beans. If I ever had a day like this, it was easy to overcome; I could excuse myself from evening activities to catch up on sleep. However, this is such a once in a life time opportunity, and you are only in the village for three and a half weeks, that more often than not, I was able to remind myself how lucky I was and what a rare opportunity this is, so that I could push through, and make the most of my time there.

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