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Social Enterprise & Sustainable Development – Fiji 2019

My time in Fiji was nothing but an experience of a lifetime!! Myself, along with 20 other students in our 4th year of the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation completed a social enterprise and sustainable development program with Unbound.

We immersed ourselves in the communities of Waivaka and Namatakula where we ate and drank the local cuisine (hello tarot and kava), danced and sang to the beat of the drums, and laughed and cried at any given moment (almost always simultaneously). But nothing can compare to the beautiful moments we shared with our host families in our homes – playing games, sharing stories, taking many photos for the both of us to cherish. Memories and friendships that will surely last for many years to come!!

We also had the opportunity to visit many cultural sites and local social enterprises with our action projects in mind. We planted mangroves with Kai Ni Cola (the first NGO to come out of Fiji and Namatakula village), spoke to the founders of Growing Tall and Climates over a delicious dinner, visited Suva Museum, participated in a 3 hour dance workshop with Rako Pasefica, and on our final day, visited the Pacific Islands Development Forum to learn about how island nations are dealing with the impacts of climate change. The resilience of these communities is astounding.

This program has not only allowed me to draw on my skills in journalism and storytelling, but it also allowed me to recognise the beauty in the ‘real’ Fiji – through our families, their way of living and how truly innovative they are with the minimal technology and resources they have. It enabled me to recognise my leadership potential and willingness to take on similar opportunities in the future.

While at times I found it challenging to adjust to this new way of living, there were so many lessons learned and connections that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat and would recommend all current and future UTS students to apply for an overseas BUILD program at least once in their degree.

Vinaka vaka levu and see you soon, Fiji πŸ‘‹πŸΌ

-Chelsea Hetherington

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