24 February 2008

Typical Music in Fiji

This is fairly typical music in Fiji. I thought I might give everyone abroad a little taste of my musical landscape here. This is a very popular song.

Quick Rundown on Peace Corps in Fiji

(I saw this idea on another site and thought it might be helpful.)

The quick run-down on PC/Fiji

PC Fiji currently has 2 main programs: Community Health Promotion and Integrated Environmental Resource Management. There are also volunteers working in Youth Life Skills Development and Business Advising.

All trainees currently arrive in late May.

PST (Pre-Service Training) is community based. This means you will live in a village or a settlement for 10 weeks with a host family while attending language and technical training.

After PST, you will be placed at site in your own housing. This housing can vary. Possible options: an apartment on your own with water and electricity, a shared house with another PCV, standard government housing at a hospital or school, your very own bure in the village.

You will find out more on the specifics of your site about 6 weeks into PST. Our site announcement was on July 4th.

Language: Currently, the majority of volunteers learn Bauan, a select few learn Hindi. The language you learn, in theory, depends on your future placement. This is not always true.

My advice, if you have a strong preference - give it up, you'll be happier.

Internet: Internet access is available throughout the country. Internet cafes vary in price from $1.00 - $6.00 and hour. Speed also varies greatly, but often uploading pictures takes a long time. Some volunteers, like myself, are able to have access in their homes.

Electricity & Water: The majority of volunteers have power/electricity all the time. There are more random black outs than you might experience in America though and they take longer to be resolved. You may or may not have indoor plumbing.

Food: You can be vegetarian, even vegan while serving in Fiji. Fruits and fresh vegetables about on Viti Levu but become more scarce on other islands or in the interior areas of the country. Main staples everywhere include: cassava, dalo, bananas, coconut, fish, powdered milk, rice and canned meats.

Electronics: Most volunteers brought digital cameras. Some brought their MP3 players and have been quite pleased with the decision. A few brought their laptops, and a few who did not have expressed that it might have useful if they had. There is a risk in bringing such goods to your service, but I personally have found the benefits outweigh the risks by far.

Other: There are ATMs available in the larger cities on Viti & Vanua Levu. This is not always so elsewhere in the country.

The Peace Corps Wiki - Fiji seems to be a through and accurate resource

Thoughts on Volunteer Contributions

"Too Many Innocents Abroad" - An Article on Peace Corps

The Peace Corps has long shipped out well-meaning young people possessing little more than good intentions and a college diploma. What the agency should begin doing is recruiting only the best of recent graduates — as the top professional schools do — and only those older people whose skills and personal characteristics are a solid fit for the needs of the host country.

I read recently this article by a previous Peace Corps volunteer, recruiter and country director. Attached to it are some interesting arguments about the effectiveness of young volunteers in country.

It makes me wonder about my own experiences here in Fiji and how often I feel ill-equipped to do the work I am being encouraged to do. My personal solution has been to create projects that play on towards my strengths and still work towards fulfilling the needs of those around me. These chosen projects, however, do not fall squarely within PC/Fiji's overall health promotion plan.

I've often dream of the position I was first offered in Morocco working with art/business development. Would I have felt more fulfilled there? It is hard to say, speaking from my current biased standpoint. I'll never truly know. I can only keep working towards helping the community around me reach the goals it hopes to reach.

But part of me wonders what it means that I am one of the most occupied volunteers (from those I have spoken with) and I am still not entirely sure I am accomplishing anything much. Are my standards too high for myself? For Peace Corps? For Fiji?