When I chose to live in Fiji for four months, I knew I would most likely enjoy it, but I never expected it to feel like a second home. I quickly felt at ease working and living among some of the most welcoming people I have ever met, who’s humor and naturally joyous ways are widely contagious. I have grown to love the organized chaos that is life in Suva, Fiji’s capital city, and have fallen in love with the countries tropical landscape and rich biodiversity. I have even gotten used to living on ‘Fiji time’, and rather enjoy the relatively slow pace of life.
My experience has taught me things I could have never anticipated, lessons which have contributed to who I am as a student, an international development worker, and above all, as a person.
My classes at Fiji National University have allowed me to visibly see the extent of environmental, social and cultural damage which a single developer can cause, and the need to ensure that a countries’ Environmental Impact Assessment system is properly enforced. My classes have also taught me the vulnerability of small nation-states to climate change impacts, some of which I witnessed first-hand throughout the duration of my trip. However, I have also seen how resilient a country with less than one million people can be, when a government chooses to prioritize education and climate change awareness.
Throughout my internship, I have acquired a better understanding of the complexities of development work. I have witnessed the power dynamics which can exist between the NGOs, international agencies, government agencies and local communities involved in the completion of a development project. I have experienced setbacks, and have learnt how best to deal with these situations. My internship placement has also exposed me to the unfavorable living conditions which are a common reality for millions of people around the world, and has allowed me to better understand the issues faced by those living in informal settlement communities.