Traditional villages nestled in the mountains of Fiji are home to communities that live off the land and have limited access to basic services. In the Village of Nasivikoso, students have had to live away from home in order to get an education because they have not had a school of their own. Rustic Pathways is working in partnership with the village to build an elementary school for their children. The first classrooms have been built and first to third grade classes are now being held for the first time in the village – this is the impact of Rustic Pathways students and we could not be more thrilled!
During your time in Nasivikoso, you will live in pairs with a host family and gain a deep understanding of life here and the importance of education in this remote area. Your homestay will be balanced with plenty of time at our Highlands Base in the village, where you will share daily meals and activities during your program. In the afternoons spend time helping your new Fijian brothers and sisters with homework or learning how to prepare meals over an open fire with your host mother. Then join your group for evening activities at the Highlands Base, including a traditional dance performance, games and group discussions, and a lot of laughter and fun.
During this program you will focus your energy on contributing to the ongoing construction of the school and education-based projects that provide enrichment and English language support for the students of Nasivikoso. Prepare English grammar lessons, lead art projects, and share in cultural exchange with the students of the new Nasivikoso Village School. A good education takes more than walls and desks, and the teachers here are thrilled to have your support inside the classroom.
You will also have the opportunity to meet with village elders, school committee members, and other community members to learn more about what it takes to make a project like this a reality and why this school so important. Gain an understanding of education needs in Fiji and around the world and how you can make a difference.
Take some time to explore hidden waterfalls, swim in the river, and enjoy your incredible surroundings. During your trip you will also visit the famous Natadola Beach for a swim in the turquoise waters and have the opportunity to see another side of this magical country with optional Island Hopping
Some students combine multiple sessions of Village School Service to build a deeper connection with this special community and many don’t want to leave when the week is over!
All of Rustic Pathways scheduled group flights to Fiji depart from Los Angeles. Our carrier is Air Pacific – Fiji’s national airline. The flight each week is non-stop to Nadi International Airport and is escorted by a Rustic Pathways Flight Leader. The flight departs Los Angeles in the evening and takes about 10 hours. During your flight take the time to get to know other students, get some sleep in preparation for your arrival in the South Pacific, or relax with a movie or two and get ready to enjoy the easy-going and friendly nature of the Fijian’s and their legendary hospitality.
Today is “lost” as you cross the international dateline, but don’t worry too much… you will get it back on your way home!
Upon clearing customs and immigration, you will be greeted by Rustic Pathways’ Fiji staff at the Nadi Airport. Your flight lands early in the morning and you will start off your day with a tropical breakfast and orientation. After breakfast you will stop at the beautiful beach and tropical waters of Natadola for a picnic lunch before gathering last minute supplies for your trip to the Highlands.
You will travel by truck or four-wheel-drive vehicle to the Nasouri Highland region. This area of Fiji has remote villages nestled in mountain valleys where locals live off the land and have strong ties to their traditional culture. The need for service in these remote parts is great, and villagers here will welcome you with big smiles and gratitude. The journey normally takes about three hours.
Your first two nights will be spent at the Rustic Pathways Farm House, just down the road from Nasivikoso Village, beside a picturesque river and surrounded by papaya trees, pineapples, and vegetables growing on local farms.
Take a swim in the river, start to soak in the warm hospitality of Fiji, and learn about the traditional way of life in the Highlands.
Wake up early this morning to the breathtaking beauty of the Highlands. After breakfast you will have a comprehensive cultural orientation and the chance to help out on the farm to get a sense of what life for villagers here is really like. You might not expect the humor and fun that the locals seem to bring to every activity. Get ready for some jokes and laughs as you learn how to live off the land.
After lunch on the farm and a chance to cool off in the river, you will learn about the service projects you will be working and will take time to prepare for the education projects you will lead with the young students in this humble community. You will also take some time to get to know your group and rest. Get ready, because tomorrow is a big day!
This morning, after a hearty Fijian breakfast, you will get an early start and head to the village you have come to support in its quest to improve the education of its children.
The first thing any visitor must do when they arrive at a Fijian village is to present the traditional root of the yagona plant to the village chief in what is called a sevusevu ceremony. You will share in this tradition and have the opportunity to sit with the village chief and elders who will honor you for your kind hearts and big efforts in helping them improve educational opportunities for their children.
This village is like a second home for us in Fiji and we have deep ties and friendships with this community. You will stay in pairs or small groups with your host family and will quickly feel like part of the family. You will have meals and activities with your group at our Village Bure, our Base in the village, which is close in proximity to your host home. The Village Bure offers some upgraded amenities to help you settle into village life and is a great place to spend time with the rest of your group.
After a village tour and introduction to our Village Bure, you will start helping with our ongoing effort to build a primary school in the village. Join with many of the villagers here to expand the school with new classrooms.
When work has finished for the day, you will meet your host family. Once you have spent some time with your Fijian momo (dad) and nene (mom) and have dinner at our Village Bure base, the locals will put on a traditional meke dance performance in appreciation of your service and to welcome you to the community. Get ready to join the dancing and share in this special time with the village community.
Sunday is a very ceremonial day in the Fijian culture. Fiji’s native people are predominantly Christian and Sunday’s are observed as a day of rest. Your host family will lend you some traditional Fijian clothing to wear and invite you to join them at church. You will find much of the village gathered together here – elders, parents, teenagers and young children alike – for a morning of singing and respectful thanks for the wonderful environment in which they live. It is impossible not to feel moved by the enthusiasm and open delight that villagers show towards each other and their surroundings and the incredible singing that is part of the morning service.
After church, the villagers always prepare a big Sunday lunch. Enjoy some traditional Fijian fare and western favorites. Then, join with local children for a hike to the neighboring village and nearest existing school to gain a greater understanding of the barriers to getting a good education. In the evening you will prepare for tomorrow’s service in the village kindergarten.
For the next two days you will split your time between working with kindergarten and elementary school students in the village and joining in the ongoing construction efforts to complete the school facilities. You will lead arts and crafts projects, teach the students songs and games, support the efforts of local teachers, and provide the village youth with an opportunity to strengthen their English skills. After the day’s service is complete, swim in the river and share time with your host family.
On Tuesday you will take a break at lunch for a short hike and refreshing swim at a spectacular waterfall near the village. Local children will be sure to join you for this fun-filled afternoon!
In the evening you will join locals at the Village Bure for a final farewell ceremony marking your last night in the village. There will be lots of laughter and tears and you will be amazed by how quickly you have grown attached to your new friends and family in Nasivikoso.
After a morning of service work in the kindergarten and at the construction site, you will say farewell to Nasivikoso. Every year host families and students alike have a hard time saying goodbye as strong bonds seem to form easily with locals here. It’s no wonder that so many of our past students have returned year after year as close family friends.
You’ll have dinner in a local restaurant and stay in the Nadi area for your final night, giving you a chance to reflect on what you were able to contribute in the Highlands and what you have taken away.
If you are flying back to the USA today, you will spend your final day in the town of Nadi, a main tourist center in Fiji, shopping for souvenirs and exploring. Or, if you want to soak in some ocean air and island views before you go, you will have the chance to participate in an optional island hopping trip or an optional sky dive today followed by some souvenir shopping. After a final meal with your group, you’ll travel to the airport and bid Fiji farewell. You will be escorted to Los Angeles by a Rustic Pathways Flight Leader.
For those students who are continuing to another Rustic Pathways program you will commence your next program this morning.
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity. The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
It is imperative for both male and female students to bring shorts that reach the knee on these service trips. It is culturally inappropriate to show any amount of thigh in Fiji. If students do not wear appropriate clothing, they will be unable to participate in community service and will be deducted service hours.
You will be traveling to Fiji during the dry season, when the days are generally hot, with some humidity, but rain is not typical. The evenings can cool off significantly in the Highlands region and a heavy sweatshirt is recommended.
If you are connecting to other Rustic Pathways programs, please check each of their packing lists to make sure you bring any special items that might be needed.
Please pack lightly! You must be able to carry and load your own luggage. The baggage limit on Air Pacific is 50lbs, but please also be aware of the baggage restrictions for any domestic connections in the USA. You can find more details on Air Pacific's baggage allowances on their website at http://www.airpacific.com/Flying-With-Us/Baggage-Allowance.
Do not bring your favorite items with you. There is always a chance that you will get a bit dirty while working on your service projects and exploring the islands.
Be sure to wear your Rustic Pathways T-Shirt while you are travelling to Fiji!
A small backpack is the best carry on bag and will be useful throughout your program for day trips.
Make sure that everything you pack in your carry-on complies with the carry-on regulations of the TSA: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm
A medium sized duffel bag, wheeled bag or large backpack is fine. You must be able to carry and load your own luggage.
Biodegradable soap and toiletries are required
Appropriate Dress: Due to cultural rules in Fijian villages, it is customary for females to have their shoulders and knees covered at all times. While you are outside of the village you will be able to wear tank tops and shorts, but for the majority of the program female students will need to wear t-shirts or other sleeved shirts. Women must also wear sulus (sarongs) or a long skirt when in villages and at traditional ceremonies. We will provide the students with a sulu on their arrival, and students typically wear light shorts under their sulus. You may wear a long skirt that covers your knees instead of a sulu. If you have a sarong already at home you may want to bring it along. Please pack with this in mind!
There is no electricity in the village. Please make sure you bring a good flashlight (head lights work especially well). Make sure you bring your camera batteries fully charged, and a spare one if you have one, as it may not be possible to recharge these items during your program.
Laundry: You will have the opportunity to wash laundry by hand in the village and your host family will help you to do this if you wish.
In Fiji, it is customary for visitors to present a gift to any village or home they visit. We ask that you bring 3-4 small gifts for host families and friends in the village. We ask that you follow the suggested items listed below, which we have developed in conjunction with villagers based on needs they have identified. We suggest bringing three to five items for your host family, keeping in mind that these gifts are shared with all ages. Gifts can be gently used items that you have at home.
Please keep in mind that small plastic toys and other common American gift items not included here are not as useful to villagers. We encourage you to bring warm clothes, backpacks and other practical items.
You may, in turn, receive a small gift from your Fijian family to help you remember your time in Fiji, so remember to save a little room in your packs for this on the way home!
Many students ask about bringing donations with them and they are always appreciated! If you would like to bring donations, we ask that you follow the list below of suggested items, which has been developed with the local community and schools. We suggest bringing 3-5 items if you wish and encourage you to be mindful of airline baggage allowances.
Please note that it is very costly to ship donations to Fiji after you have traveled (and we don’t encourage it), so we strongly recommend you bring any items you might like to contribute with you when you come.
Students will spend the majority of this program with host families in a small village in the mountains of Fiji’s main island. Two to three students stay with each family. Accommodations are basic. Homes are typically made of concrete or wood and tin, and families provide a bed or a mattress on the floor for you. There are flush toilets located outside of host family homes. There is no electricity and a mix of lanterns and generator power light the way at night.
Students will eat all of their meals together as a group at our Base in the village, known as the Village Bure. This Base is the focal point for group activities and you will find yourself playing games with village kids, spending time with villagers, and sharing lots of laughs as a group here.
The first night of the program is spent at our Farm House about a twenty-minute walk from the village in traditional style housing with mattresses on the floor. The final night is spent at a hotel in the Nadi area with simple dorm-style accommodations and shared facilities.
Students will drink filtered water on this program. The water is run through special filters by our staff and it is available for students at all times at the Village Bure and Farm House. While in Nadi at the end of the program, the tap water is safe to drink.
Students will eat a combination of local Fijian dishes and more western-style dishes prepared by cooks at the Village Bure Base House. Breakfasts typically includes cold cereal or oatmeal, freshly baked buns and scones, and fruits. Lunches and dinners range from traditional Fijian feasts of cassava and dalo (root crops similar to potatoes), chicken and fish, to noodles and pastas, curries and stir-fry. Peanut butter and jelly are often provided, as are delicious Fijian pancakes, roti bread, and local fruits. We can easily cater for vegetarians.
On average, our programs in Fiji are 70% female and 30% male.
All programs in Fiji connect easily together. On the final morning of each program, students will connect with the staff, arriving students, and other connecting participants in the Nadi area for their next program. Students can also easily connect this program with our programs in Australia and/or New Zealand. Students interested in combining programs in Fiji with a program in Australia or New Zealand should do the Fiji program first if possible.
A flight leader will accompany students on the group flight to Fiji from Los Angles. Our program staff will greet students when they arrive at the Nadi Airport in Fiji. Students connecting to this program from Australia or New Zealand will not be escorted on their connecting flights between countries, but will be chaperoned for check-in and then met by our staff in Fiji on arrival.
Fiji is 10 hours by air from Los Angeles. Flights from Australia and New Zealand are about 4 hours.
A tourist visa will be issued on arrival in Fiji for US citizens. No prior arrangements are required for US Citizens.
Rustic Pathways does not make recommendations regarding immunizations. We strongly suggest that you consult with a travel doctor or your family physician regarding immunizations before you travel. You can also find more information on the websites of the Center for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov) or World Health Organization (http://www.who.int).
We recommend students bring $100 - $200USD in spending money to cover any souvenirs, snacks, phone calls, and internet they may wish to purchase. There are very few opportunities to purchase snacks or souvenirs on this program, including the final day when the group is in the main tourist center of Nadi.
Students will also have the option to go Island Hopping or Sky Diving on the final day of this program at an additional cost. Sky diving ranges from $250-$500USD and parental permission is required. Island Hopping costs about $60USD and involves a half-day boat trip to several small islands off the coast. Students who may wish to participate in one of these optional activities should bring additional spending money with them to cover these activities.
Contact Us: For more information about Village School Service you can email email@example.com.
Ages: 14 to 18 years old
Length: 10 days from the USA
Hours: Up to 30 hours awarded
International airfare is not included in the above cost. Please check our Travel Desk for airfare pricing and specifics.
|Departs Tue||Returns Thu||Availability|
|11 Jun||20 Jun||Limited|
|25 Jun||4 Jul||Available|
|2 Jul||11 Jul||Available|
|9 Jul||18 Jul||Very Limited|
|16 Jul||25 Jul||Available|
|23 Jul||1 Aug||Available|
|30 Jul||8 Aug||Limited|
Dates shown are inclusive of travel time from the United States. Most Rustic Pathways trips interconnect, allowing you to design your own perfect summer program.Apply Now