Teaching and Community Development in Fiji
Fiji is known as a tourist’s dream, with its pristine beaches, clear water and friendly locals. Besides its endless coconut trees, abundance of marine wildlife and countless natural wonders, visitors often reflect that Fiji’s people are what make the country so special. Volunteers on this program can choose to focus on teaching or community development in the remote village of Sote.
*Please Contact CISaustralia for Upcoming Program Availability*
Fiji is known as a tourist’s dream, with its pristine beaches, clear water and friendly locals. Besides its endless coconut trees, abundance of marine wildlife and countless natural wonders, visitors often reflect that Fiji’s people are what make the country so special.
Classified as a developing nation, it’s often a surprise for tourists to get a glimpse of the local living conditions. Poverty is a daily challenge for many throughout the country, with countless families living in poor housing with limited access to good education and adequate healthcare. Still, Fiji’s people remain some of the most welcoming, genuine and happy people in the world.
To try and help some of these local communities, particularly in remote villages, this teaching and community development program has been established in Sote Village, about two hours from Fiji’s capital, Suva. Volunteers are needed to help the Sote Village community in a variety of ways.
If you’re a passionate, flexible and adaptable individual, who is not afraid to steer well clear of the five star hotels and really get rustic (and back to basics), this project is for you. If you are truly interested in getting to know the locals and helping them in any way you can, this project will be highly rewarding. You may partake in a number of different activities related to teaching or community development, some of which may be:
- Helping to teach and support teachers at the local school, from early childhood to Year 8
- Liaising and planning lessons and activities with Fijian teachers
- Facilitating creative and educational activities with school children
- Helping to build/renovate buildings, facilities and fences at the local school
- Assisting in building school and sports equipment
- Building children’s playgrounds
- Beautifying local village buildings with school children and art projects
- Repairing and upgrading the Community Hall
- Refurbishing existing buildings, such as community centres and kitchens
- Supplying rubbish bins for the community and educating people on keeping their areas clean
- Creating shelters, walkways and concrete footpaths within the village
- Installing water tanks
Note: Activities that participants will undertake as a community development volunteer on any given program will vary widely, depending on a range of local factors, including but limited to available donations / funding, time of year, weather conditions, available support staff and community leader involvement.
No matter what activities you get involved in, everything you do is to benefit the community as a whole. The great thing about this project is that all you need to participate is a positive attitude, personal drive, a commitment to culture and the local community.
- Project Activities: Teaching or community development projects for the Sote Village community, creative activities with children, general community outreach/education, renovation and other activities based on needs at the time
- Project Availability: Fixed program dates each year – see the Program Fee and Dates tab (below) or contact CISaustralia for upcoming availability
- Project Duration: 2 weeks
- Working Hours: Varying depending on project focus. Approximately 7 hours a day for 5 days a week. The schedule varies – welcome to Fiji! You will need to be flexible. The program includes one or two lectures at the University of the South Pacific. Lecture topics vary each year but broad academic areas include community health, aid, local culture, understanding Fiji – its people, history and culture. There are also a small number of local culture excursions in Suva. Daily community project work will generally run from 8:30am – 11:30am, then a break for lunch and continuing from 12:30pm – 5pm.
- Location: Students will be primarily based in Sote Village, in the interior of Fiji – two hours’ drive from Suva. Students will also get to experience Suva, Nasori and Nadi for limited periods of time.
- Excursions: Lectures and excursions are included in this program. You will visit Suva, the capital of Fiji, and go to a lecture at the University of the South Pacific, or you could visit the Fiji Museum with its comprehensive collection of Fijian artefacts or other local cultural attractions.
- Support: 24-hour on-site support from Site Coordinator
- A valid Police Check or Working With Children Check is required
- Minimum Age: 18+
- Language: English
Please note that this project has a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15 volunteers at any one time. Volunteers are placed in groups on set program dates. Places on the project are given on a first come, first served basis.
On arrival into Suva, you will be met by CISaustralia and taken for some supplies in Nasouri and then transferred directly to Sote Village. While in the village your breakfast, lunch and dinner are supplied. Accommodation is basic – sleep on blow up mattresses in a designated large village house. See accommodation tab for more details.
Note: Students need to either fly into Suva (usually via Nadi) and / or fly into Nadi and transfer by bus (4 hours) to Suva. Our staff will arrange to meet you in Suva – either at the airport or bus station.
This morning you have the opportunity to attend a local church service (great local culture and singing), go for a walk in the jungle and have a swim in the afternoon.
Day 3 – Day 6
Teaching / project work throughout the week.
Local transport to Suva (the capital of Fiji) and spend the day at the University of the South Pacific. Attend one or two lectures on local culture related to any range of topics, e.g. politics, local issues / challenges, community development, religion, international relations, climate change, infrastructure, business, communication, gender issues, etc. Lectures will be driven by local staff availability.
Accommodation in Suva will be supplied in a local 3-star hotel in twin share rooms – or equivalent. Lunch and dinner will be at your own expense.
A cultural excursion will take you to the fresh fruit and vegetable markets as well as the fish markets in Suva. Evening is free time.
Visit to the Fiji Museum in the morning, which houses the most comprehensive collection of Fijian artefacts in existence. Lunch will be at your own expense. In the afternoon, the group travels back to Sote Village. Dinner will be supplied in the village.
Day 10 – Day 15
Continue teaching / project work in Sote Village.
Breakfast supplied prior to travel to Nadi. One night in Nadi included. Accommodation will be supplied in a local 3-star hotel in twin share rooms – or equivalent. You will be free to explore Nadi in the afternoon and evening. Lunch and dinner will be at your own expense.
Breakfast included. Program now officially ends.
COVID Safe Travel
The health and safety of our students is our highest priority. We take our duty of care for our students, their families and our Australian University partners seriously. For all of our program locations, we have developed a site-specific COVID-19 risk matrix and risk management and emergency response plans so that health and safety response protocols are monitored, managed and communicated.
CISaustralia monitors Smartraveller and reliable news feeds to keep up to date with the latest COVID information and any associated travel restrictions and entry requirements for all destinations where we have programs. Due to the constantly evolving COVID-19 situation, Government travel advice can change quickly. For the most up to date information on Fiji, visit the Smartraveller website.
The Volunteer's Role
While the tourism industry brings a lot of money into Fiji’s major tourist spots and resorts, the more rural communities receive little of these funds and the employment benefits, and as a result they have been somewhat left behind economically.
Fiji’s population is spread over a number of islands, making it difficult to deliver things we tend to take for granted, like education and healthcare – among other things. A significant amount of the population lives in poverty, with some villages not even having access to fresh water or proper sanitation systems, while others do not have the money to maintain the upkeep of buildings that are deteriorating or create concrete paths leading to houses.
Overseas volunteers can help these communities by offering their skills (teaching, physical, knowledge, etc.) to the numerous projects that help to improve the community day-by-day. Whether it’s building a fence, painting a wall, teaching lessons or doing some creative projects with school children, everything helps.
As a volunteer, you can choose to focus on teaching or community development:
Volunteers may help out with classes from Early Childhood to Year 8. The school curriculum is thematic, so you can help plan and teach lessons based on a theme of your choice for the duration of the program. Volunteers will have the opportunity to liaise and plan lessons and activities with Fijian teachers.
There are various activities you could take part in at Sote Village. There are a number of buildings that need to either be upgraded or renovated, including the Community Hall, the kindergarten and community toilets. Beyond maintenance work, volunteers may be asked to place rubbish bins around the village and help educate the local people on the importance of keeping their village clean of rubbish.
All projects require the involvement, support and agreement of the local village leaders and will most often involve the local community, the school, the mother’s club and any other interested locals.
Sample community development activities and projects:
- Multipurpose concrete court for volleyball and netball
- Fencing around the school
- Expand the school playground; extend to the river
- Supply 10 computers
- Replace walls of tin at the Kindergarten with wooden walls
- Extend lunch room
- Refurbish the undercover kitchen area into extended eating area
- Supply a swing set for the Kindergarten children
- Level the area beside the Kindergarten – for safety and play
- Install a 3,000-litre water tank near the school cooking area
- Community Hall upgraded and painted
- Community toilets moved and/or upgraded and painted
- Concrete footpath to each house in the village
- Incinerator for the Community Hall
- Rubbish bins for community areas
- Supply / raise money for rugby jerseys – the village would benefit from some organised sport and would involve the youth who are currently in the village
CISaustralia is looking for passionate, enthusiastic and hard-working individuals who are ready to put their time and effort into helping out in remote Fijian villages. No formal qualifications are needed, but open-mindedness, patience and compassion are a must when working with people from different cultures who may have different views from yours. If this is you, we would love to have you on the program!
The program includes a 2-night excursion to Suva, the capital of Fiji. Accommodation in Suva will be in a local 3-star hotel in twin share rooms, or equivalent. The group will visit the University of the South Pacific and attend one or two lectures on local culture related to a range of topics, such as politics, local issues / challenges, community development, religion, international relations, climate change, infrastructure, business, communication, gender issues, etc. The group will also visit fruit, vegetable and fish markets in Suva, as well as visit the Fiji Museum, which houses the most comprehensive collection of Fijian artefacts in existence. Participants will also have some free time in Suva to enjoy on their own. Meals are not included while in Suva.
If you would like to travel after the program in Fiji, the on-site team can assist you with recommendations. Some examples of other activities you can do nearby:
- Raft to the Tourist Village Nakoromakawa and have lunch
- Learn to surf the beautiful coral coast of Natadola, about a 2½ hour drive from Sote Village
- Plenty of walking tracks and a waterfall in Sote Village
An archipelago of hundreds of islands in the South Pacific, Fiji is known for its never-ending sandy white beaches, crystal clear waters and beautiful, natural sights. Tourists visit in droves to escape to this quintessential paradise. With the majority of the population living on the coast of the major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, the rest of the country is uncrowded and waiting to be explored.
The project is based in Sote Village, a small community that is about two hours away from Fiji’s capital city, Suva. Outside of New Zealand, Suva is the largest South Pacific city and hosts beautiful British colonial buildings, gorgeous parks and markets full of the freshest fruit you can find.
Located within the remote interior of Fiji, Sote Village will immerse you within Fijian culture as known by the locals, which is not something most visitors to the country will get to experience. Sote has a non-monetary economy, with the locals relying on natural resources, hunting and gathering to provide for their basic needs. To visit this village and its genuine, welcoming people is to visit true Fiji.
Accommodation in Sote Village is very basic, but the village is very safe. Students will stay in a large private house. Sleeping will be communal with men and women sleeping in a large room. Students will sleep on blow up mattresses. Showers are cold water only.
While on excursions, accommodation will generally be in a local, 3-star hotel or similar, in twin share rooms.
3 meals per day will be provided while in the village. Students will be provided with resources to prepare their own breakfast and lunch. Meals will not be provided on weekends or on excursions. There is an opportunity to buy packaged snacks in Nasouri.
Why Volunteer with CISaustralia
CISaustralia believes strongly in supporting volunteer initiatives across the world that promote sustainable and long-term societal, environmental and economic change to benefit and empower local communities.
While the term volunteering is widely known and accepted, we prefer to use the term Experiential Service Learning. This better relates to our philosophy surrounding close community engagement as well as a focus on projects that have a long-term approach and a range of positive impacts for both communities and our students. Over 98% of CISaustralia participants receive academic credit for their program abroad, which fosters a more culturally immersive and deeper reflective experience.
CISaustralia volunteering programs contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which aim to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. While not every program will achieve all seventeen of the UN goals, your role as a volunteer will have a positive impact by doing work that really matters. We partner with organisations that have in-depth, first-hand knowledge and close relationships with local communities. Prior to your departure, our team in Australia will prepare you with extensive resources so you feel supported every step of the way. You will also be supported throughout your entire overseas program by our fantastic and experienced in-country staff.
Volunteering abroad is a life-changing experience, enabling you to learn and grow on many personal and professional levels, to broaden your perspective on the world and to become a global citizen. CISaustralia prides itself in having the strongest global partners who are socially responsible and equally committed to their local communities and ethical practices. We love what we do at CISaustralia and are here to provide you with the support you need to successfully volunteer abroad – so that you can contribute to positively changing the lives of others, and yourself, along the way. Get ready for an exciting once-in-a-lifetime adventure!
Read more: Why Volunteer Abroad with CISaustralia?
Program Fee & Dates
|2 Week Group Program (Set Dates Only)
|This program is available on fixed program dates (only). Programs start on a Sunday and end on a Saturday. Application deadline is 60 days prior to commencement. Must meet a minimum of 10 students in order for the program to run.
Program fees include the following:
- Volunteer placement and supervision
- CISaustralia support services before, during and after the program
- Academic advising
- Financial advice
- Assistance with travel arrangements
- Pre-departure guide and session
- Airport pick-up and drop-off (on specified program dates within designated times)
- On-site orientation and project induction
- Accommodation – Private village home shared with other participants while on the project site. While on excursions, students will stay in local 3-star hotels or similar.
- Meals – 3 meals per day while in the village. Students will be provided with resources to prepare their own breakfast and lunch whilst in the village. Meals will not be provided on weekends or on excursions. There is an opportunity to buy packaged snacks in Nasouri.
- Excursions – A small number of lectures and excursions are included in this program. They change each year and on each program.
- Program risk matrix and COVID-19 risk assessment
- Risk Management and Emergency Response Plan
- 24/7 on-site support – Site Coordinator
- CISaustralia Certificate of Participation (available on request)
What is not included:
- Program application fee
- International Student Identity Card
- Flights (CISaustralia will however provide travel guidance and support via our formal travel partner)
- Medical insurance
- Travel insurance
- Visa fees
- Police or Working With Children Check*
- Vaccinations (if required)
- Meals during the weekends and on excursions
- Extra travel/excursions (other than those mentioned above)
*A Police or Working With Children Check is required as you will be working in a small community and with local children.
Dates are for reference only and are subject to change. Please do not book flights until you have received the dates in your acceptance paperwork and you are confirmed on the program.
CISaustralia reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partners.