Ellen Baker, one of JOA’s bursary recipients, shares her thoughts ahead of her trip with ThinkPacific to Fiji
I am currently a couple of weeks away from embarking on my trip to Fiji with ThinkPacific. For context, I am taking part in a project called the Youth Empowerment project in rural Fiji. ThinkPacific is the organisation which runs these volunteer-based trips – I will be going on their 4-week trip. The project will seek to work alongside a Fijian community in a cultural exchange to create positive and sustainable change surrounding mental health within the youth of Fiji. We will be conducting classes, learning traditional Fijian skills such as weaving, and hopefully creating lasting positive impact on the other side of the globe.
Personally, I am feeling more excited than apprehensive, although I know some of my fellow volunteers are feeling those emotions the other way around. Preparations for volunteer expeditions are always more complicated than they seem at first look. Therefore, the last month of preparations have felt saturated with logistical tasks. Paperwork for Visas, ESTA’s, DBS checks and insurance have taken over the more exciting jobs like actually packing.
However, the satisfaction of ticking off these practical jobs has been rewarding, and I feel as though I have now passed this tedious stage of jobs. I am now excited to move onto choosing gifts for my host family, making a trip to Boots for travel toiletries, and chatting to fellow volunteers about adventures to come.
These last couple of weeks seem to be dragging with the anticipation and eagerness now that the trip is so close. Our minds are also full of questions as we enter the unknown. What will our Fijian families be like? Will we be assigned to a village in the mountains, or on a remote island? How will our volunteer group get along? What will the weather be like? Questions seem to be the dominating thoughts for all of us at the moment, with our WhatsApp group pinging daily with questions like “Are you guys taking a raincoat?”
I suppose the beauty of the unknown is what needs to be embraced. I will look forward to writing another article during my time in Fiji, and a reflective piece post-trip too. For now, I will relish the excitement of pre-trip preparations.
For more information about applying for a JOA bursary, visit: JOA Bursaries – Jersey Overseas Aid Commission