Fiji Service Trip 2023

14 Aug 2023

In the final week of last term, a group of twenty-nine students and four staff members from Botany Downs Secondary College travelled to Fiji to visit our sister school, Lelean Memorial School to do some service activities. We began the trip at Auckland Airport on Monday morning, full of excitement to make our way across the Pacific Ocean. All the hard work we had done before hand had paid off and we were ready to go. Day one was full of travel consisting of two flights and a bus ride to our hotel in Suva. By the end of it, we all just wanted to hit the bed and get some sleep, ready for the next morning ahead of us.

The Fijian experience truly began for us when we stepped off the bus at Lelean Memorial School. We were greeted with swarms of students smiling and waving at us. It was a true celebrity moment. We arrived and were formally welcomed at the assembly they had put together for us. This included speeches, prayers, and choir songs performed for us. Meeting the students and witnessing their eagerness to know us set a heartwarming tone for the days ahead.

Our service efforts commenced on day three, as we rolled up our sleeves and started on the task of painting two Year 9 classrooms. Over the course of two days, we were working nonstop to get the classrooms looking brand new. Paint brushes and rollers were all around as we chipped away at the painting with our buddies. At the same time, we were setting up the library with the books and computers we donated. Seeing the shelves filled with the books from BDSC was amazing as we were able to pass on new resources to the students at Lelean. During our time at Lelean, we were also provided with delicious morning tea and lunch each day. This ranged from tuna club sandwiches to the special Lelean juice. Every meal came with fresh bananas, pineapple, and watermelon. They certainly fed us well and this made our time there even more special.

A highlight for us during our service days was watching the Lelean Girls U18 rugby match. We had side-line seats and the entire school ended up coming to watch the teams’ spectacular win. They started the game off with the school song which we also learnt during our time at the school. With back-to-back tries, the school spirit was shining through, showing us the strong bond between the school and the students. The energy and cheers from the whole school watching left an unforgettable memory with us.

Our last day at Lelean was a bittersweet moment. During the day, we finished learning the school song and took a bunch of photos with the students. We all wore our Lelean rugby shirts that we bought to make our last day even more special. The farewell dinner was very well organised. It was in-fact beautiful, and we were blessed with amazing food and entertainment. This included speeches from both Principals, church songs from the choir, a traditional Fijian dance, and a lot more dancing. Goodbyes throughout the night resulted in gift exchange from both buddies and the students from Botany. We each spent time with the students we had connected with, making the goodbye even harder. In the last couple of minutes, the Lelean students sang us the Fijian farewell song “Isa Lei” that was so powerful and left a lot of us in tears. We departed in a sea of hugs with the bus ride back filled with tears, hoping we’d get a chance to see them again.

We spent our last day in Suva visiting Kuku village followed by shopping. We went to the markets and malls in Suva where we bought souvenirs to take back to our families. The day ended with a beautiful dinner at The Holiday Inn. We had dinner overlooking a striking sunset, making it the perfect end to our time in Suva.

Over the next couple of days, it was day trips and dinner at Denarau Wharf. We also had a day trip to South Seas Island. It was the main highlight for us during our stay in Nadi. We travelled to the island by ferry in full sun. Upon arrival, we had another welcome and were given a run-down on activities. Sunbathing, eating, swimming, and taking photos took up the most time. We soaked up the sun and left later that day feeling relaxed and refreshed.

In our last day in Nadi, we spent the day shopping around and a lot of us getting our hair braided. We relaxed most of the day and ended the day with a special dinner at our hotel to mark the end of our trip.

Day ten and we were all up at 4am ready to get to the airport bright and early. Although sleepy, we were sad to leave, considering the bonds we formed with the people and the culture. The friendships we made with the students from Lelean Memorial School are ones set to last a lifetime and the trip is going to be an unforgettable experience. This trip wouldn’t have been possible without Mrs Brinsden, Mrs McGregor, Mr Wainiqolo but most importantly, Mr Achary, for forming the sister school relationship and creating this opportunity for us to see the impact we can make on a school like Lelean.

~ Nyesa Khurana 11D9


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