Saturday, November 16, 2013
This week has been a week of screaming, drowning, dragging and fun during the practical side of the rescue diver course. The Marine team interns had to act out different scenarios and see who you want to be your rescuer when you’re really in trouble, and who you want to stay away! The rest of the Marine team have been busy surveying the Matacawa Levu dive sites, carrying out their LIT and IBT surveys for us to feed back to the village. It’s also been a busy week for fish identifications, learning all 63 species on GVI’s targeted list has caused a lot of hair to be pulled out, but everyone’s getting there and progressing surprisingly well with the underwater point outs! The team also got to dive Cathedral causing massive excitement with the promise of seeing white tips, black tips, silvertips, eels, rays, and lemon sharks. And we weren’t disappointed; the abundance of sharks was a great end to some of the volunteer’s final days on base.
The construction team has had a productive week of installing rainwater harvesting systems Nacula village and getting very well fed by the locals, much to the envy of the other projects! All in all a great week on base, yet more beautiful sunsets with clear skies, calm waters (ish) and a great team to share it with. However, it has also been a sad week, with many of the longer term volunteer’s leaving, they will be missed but they should be proud of the great work they’ve achieved in the past months.
Monday, November 11, 2013
It is the start of the seventh week of my marine internship and as divers and researchers we have all come a long way. Not only can we identify an array of Benthic life forms and invertebrates, we have now also been taught to survey them through roving diver invertebrate surveys (if you see an invertebrate, you record it) and line intercept transects, which involve laying down 10m of tape measure and recording the different benthic life forms found underneath. Every week that we dive there is always something new to see. This week we have seen Humphead Wrasse, Nurse Sharks, Bumphead Parrotfish and a load of cool Nudi Branchs that we've never spotted before. We will also be starting our rescue diver course in the next week, the final qualification that most of the volunteers will be receiving out here and the final step before our Divemasters for those on the internship. As our internship progresses, our work is more and more directed towards helping prepare us for our placements in dive resorts around Fiji; we have begun writing risk assessments and emergency action plans and will soon have to run survey days and even take over base for a day where we will be responsible for the health and safety of everyone on base, as well as help solve any problems that arise (and they probably will!)
Last Friday, on October 25th, we were invited to a bazaar on the island Vuaki to raise money for the community. We sat with the locals and drank kava and many of us were invited to get up and dance to the music they were playing on ukuleles and drums. We indulged ourselves in lots of incredible food - there was pork curry, fish and even octopus being passed around! We ate until we were full then rejoined the kava circle where I learned a lot about the village itself and where our donations would be going. We also attended a village lunch on November 2nd which was an annual celebration of those who have passed away. We cooked a stir fry and took it as a contribution and enjoyed a variety of Fijian foods. It was a great opportunity to connect with the people who have lived on our island their entire lives.
Having been on base for 6 weeks, I have had an unforgettable time. Everything we have seen and done has been so cool, and I think we have all learned a lot out here. The friends and memories I have made will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I am glad I have another six weeks out here where I will make many many more!
Sunday, November 10, 2013
At Navunisea School, Silana there is no library and very few books, which has impeded the development of reading skills. GVI volunteers provide assistance to the teachers through daily 1-1 reading and 1-1 remedial support. Due to a frequent arrival of new volunteers GVI wants to ensure consistent and effective provision for the pupils receiving 1-1 support. In addition, GVI wanted to ensure that volunteers could work effectively in a short amount of time.
Firstly we extracted the learning aims for each class from the teachers so that we had clear goals for what the children needed to achieve. This has also aided us in identifying gaps in children’s learning.
Then GVI scholar Tash streamlined the way volunteers recorded their lessons, pupil progress and pupil achievements. There are now clear working folders so that new volunteers can see what has been put in place before their arrival.
Previously GVI had not given the same 1-1 support for Kindi. However, scholar Tash and volunteer Emma have devised a way of providing 1-1 phonic and numeracy support for pupils in Kindi.
To date GVI has also devised a way of assessing pupil progress at the beginning and end of each term. These assessments are kinaesthetic and encourage pupils to demonstrate their learning through practical tasks, rather than filling in sheets. The assessment combined with volunteer checklists helps teachers and volunteers see clear pupil progression and see who no longer needs the support of the 1-1 programme.
The next step for GVI is to identify Gifted & Talented pupils. We would aim to stretch these pupils and provide them with a broader variety of texts, which they would not normally come across.
“The first thing I did with the children was to take them individually and assess their knowledge of numeracy and literacy. From there I realised the children needed help in these areas, so I made individual work books with the alphabet and numbers 1-10. I also made alphabet and number cards so I could hold them up and assist the children to be able to recognise them. I have written student profiles stating their strong points of numeracy and literacy and their weaknesses so I know what I need to work on with the children.” – Emma, GVI Volunteer.
Monday, November 4, 2013
After a boat trip, we arrived on the beach of Vuaki at about 3 pm. We, the Construction Team, were invited to stay in the village for one night. We walked the path from the beach into the village arrived directly at Bill’s house. That’s the house where I stayed.
I brought my backpack into the room Bill and his wife sat aside for me. In my room was a bed with a thick mattress. Pretty cool! In the living room the GVI volunteers and staff snacked on some cookies and enjoyed a nice talk with Bill’s wife, children (Simone – two years, Napoleon – six months) and some relatives before we went for seeing how the men built a bure (traditional Fijian home) with traditional tools like sticks and stones.
At about 5:45 pm the main point of the evening started. We went along another path to another village. There was a big celebration. After a thirty-minute walk through the woods, we arrived in Long Beach. The women cooked while men pounded kava. I tried to help pound kava. To do this, you take your hand around an iron stick and push the stick with a lot of power onto the kava root while it is an iron container. I did it only about three times, but I did it. :)
When the food was ready to eat, we took a seat in a new-but-not-completely-set-up house. The sitting area was 5-6 meters long. There were tablecloths (on the floor) and on it the plates. Just plates, no cutlery. I liked it. :) People sat on both sides on the tablecloths. And then it came, the part I looked forward to most (the food)! Yeah!! There was octopus, fish, crabs, pork, sticks with small chillies. It was delicious. Maybe it was the best fish I’ve ever eaten. After four plates, I washed my hands in a small bowl with water, left the food house, and entered a traditional cottage.
This place had a special atmosphere for me. Inside were three women. The wood and leaf walls were decorated with materials. In the middle of the women stood an oil lamp that gave just enough light to see, not too much and not too little, just enough to create a great atmosphere. During one or two mugs of black tea we had nice talks. It was a pretty good moment. At about 10pm we went back along the path with the same children and torches. I slept well.
For breakfast I had freshly baked coconut cake which gave my stay a nice end. The people in Vuaki are very friendly. They laugh a lot and make you feel like they love to have you in their home. They are also very good cooks. My stay was traditional. Thank you for the great experience.
Michael Sander (AKA ‘The Machine’), Germany
4 week Yasawa Construction Volunteer
For my first week teaching class 3 and 4, ages 8 - 10 years old, at Navunisea Primary School, Cara (the other volunteer in class 3 and 4) and myself decided to do a geography lesson.
Cara had done a great job at drawing a map of the world, and painted the continents in different colors to make it more visual. I started with introducing the notion of the world being made up of 6 continents: Asia, Americas, Europe, Africa, Oceania and Antarctica. We went through the pronunciation of each continent several times and the students repeated each word.
I then introduced the notion of country. I started with Fiji, so they could relate. I asked what the capital city of Fiji was, and what the Fijian flag looked like. I then told them that Cara was from another country, called Germany, and that the capital city of Germany was Berlin. I then showed them what the German flag looked like. I am from France, so we went over the same details for France as well as 3 other countries; the USA, Brazil, and China.
We practiced the pronunciation of each country and capital city, as well as the colors of their different flags.
I had made stickers for each flag and each continent. I placed each flag on the map to then show where each country was. To make it more interactive, I came up with a little exercise: I told them that France was in Europe and asked who wanted to come to the blackboard and place Europe on the map. They had to use the colors assigned to each continent to determine where each continent was. All the hands in the class were up and all the kids wanted to come and participate.
It was so rewarding since most these notions were totally new to them.
Finally, in the afternoon for arts and crafts class I asked them to pick a flag of their choice and make a collage to represent that flag. It was a great day!
Now all the new volunteers that will come to the class can keep showing the kids where they are from and therefore the kids will keep practicing.
-Nathalie, 3 week Expedition Volunteer Dawusamu
Every Wednesday at 4:00 pm I get a team together to help gather all the kids in the community hall for the magic of Kids Club. Four sessions in and I am still bewildered by the kids endless excitement, and ability to clean things up in the same amount of time they destroy them, which is approximately 2 minutes when your back is turned. I have also learned to never underestimate the power of 1 child running around the village screaming "kids club", because while we always start with approximately 10 kids there, in a blink of an eye about 30 - 40 more come out of the woodwork.
You see the challenge of kids club is:
1. Always preparing for at least 40 children to show up
2. Planning an activity you can explain to children who have limited English
3. Making sure that activity is suitable for ages 2 - 26
Week one, my silly silly naive self thought 'Musical Chairs! What a great idea!'. We passed out a piece of cardboard to each child, who then proceeded to play their own game of 'collect the most amount of cardboard possible, don't let anything stop you, this is my hunger games'. Our dinky little speakers clearly were not good enough, and the next thing you know a family walks in with a sound system. Thus musical chairs turned into 'musical kids club 3 hour dance party', which was no problem at all. I basically got to live out my dream of being a bar mitzvah MC.
Week two! So knowledgeable. So ready. Went prepared with enough paint and flags for the kids to design, and face paint to celebrate Fiji day! Paint ended up on bodies, and puppies, and pretty much anywhere but the flags. The boys all got turned into super hero's, so obviously there was a lot of jumping from rafters and busting through windows. Highlight of the week, the women lining up to get their faces painted as well, and this ray of sunshine in the photo below who does the best photobombs.
Week 3, invincible at this point, right? Rainy day kids club, it must slow them down. I brought along a fish puzzle a volunteer made for Class 1 + 2's art project, and paper doll chains to color in. I even carried over enough scrap paper to make sure paint ended up no where but the fish!
. . . we ended up giving each other mustache and uni-brows once the 25 fish puzzles and 50 paper dolls ran out.
Week 4: The perfect solution for a week of rain, movie day. I really wanted 'The Lion King' because bright colors and singing animals is really all you need to be happy in life. Unfortunately we did not have a copy here, appalling I know, so we went with probably the 108th best option; 'Rio'. Watching the kids reaction to something they clearly did not understand was the most entertaining movie I have ever seen. As Steve so delicately put it 'nothing brings down the house like a colorful bird bouncing off a ladies behind to the beat of a song'.
As exhausting as kids club can be, it is still my favorite time week after week. I have never laughed so hard and still cannot fathom how much respect and cooperation comes from a group of kids you can only share 10 words with.
-Jenna, Community Scholar Dawasamu
New York, USA
The other day, Navunisea school held a special event called "Sports Day". What a way to spend the day! Much like the sports days I remember from my own primary school days, it was an opportunity for the kids to let loose and have a good time. The school was divided into four 'houses': red, green, blue, and yellow. Each house had students from each age group, who competed in a series of races and relays.
Walking around the field, you could not help but be drawn in by the infectious energy. As each race heat came and went, the excitement grew. Kids stood all around the track cheering for their teams, screaming as the runners went by. The day started with 1500m races for the 12-14 year olds, followed by 50m races for ages 6-11. The excitement was so great that the 6 year olds running the first 50m race completely missed the finish line and kept running around the track. The whole crowd completely loved it, laughing and chasing the kids all the way around.
I got to work with the teachers and other volunteers to help tally scores and run the races. Cheering along with the students, I had a great time working at the finish line. It was great getting to spend more time with the kids from my class, playing outside and skipping rope. Starting races was really fun too. At the starting line, the kids joked with each other as they warmed up. Some got so excited that they started running before the signal, which was always entertaining. The day was a lot of fun, and a well-deserved break from classwork.
Steve Nemroff, USA
4 week Education Volunteer Dawasamu