Overall the experience was amazing - great to learn from the science officer about the science aspect of the project, and the dive officers were awesome too. Learnt loads while here and am planning already to continue my marine conservation career and education.
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Frontier has over 300 projects globally, offering unlimited opportunities to volunteer abroad. You could be spending memorable days scuba diving off the brilliant white beaches of Fiji or discovering South Africa on a conservation project with lion cubs! You can learn new skills, gain valuable qualifications and make lifelong friends.
When i first landed in Tenerife i was nervous and excited, it was my first time going abroad alone and i didn't know what to expect, but i was not disappointed. I met two other volunteers at the airport and by the time we got to the house we were already getting along so well! As soon as we arrived food was prepared for us and it was delicious, we then had a house tour and the house and rooms were so much bigger than i expected! You also get a beautiful view of the sunset from the balcony and you can also see the coastline. The next day we went through training, this was to ensure we knew what to do on the boats and with the data we would collect, training was fun and really easy to understand i felt settled in by the second day and i knew i’d never want to leave the project! That's why i decided to add another week on after my two week stay, i definitely do not regret that decision at all. Over the three weeks i experienced the most amazing things, i went kayaking for the first time and a dolphin spy hopped right next to the kayak and then swam underneath i highly recommend going kayaking to anyone that wants to do the Tenerife project. I climbed mountains and El Teide which was breathtaking, i also tried paddle boarding for the first time and i was really bad at it but would still do it all over again! However the most amazing parts of the project was by far the whales and Dolphins, i had never been on a big boat like the Peter Pan before so i was excited to go on, my first boat was the best because i remember seeing the dolphins and was so hypnotised by them i nearly forgot to do my data! It was my first time seeing whales and dolphins in the wild and it'll be an experience ill never forget, this project has offered me so many opportunities and i’m so glad i took part in a Frontier Project.
Bula Bula Vinaka! My journey to Fiji started off with a 25 minute rickety old 10 seater propeller powered plane journey over a small section of the beautiful reef covered Pacific Ocean. As the plane was only about 3000ft into the sky the view was stunning over the clear blue ocean. Once I landed I had another 1 hour very wet but very fun boat ride to the camp site of Frontier's Fiji Marine Conservation and Diving project, tucked away on a hill in the Fijian rain forest. It was my week off to visit the new camp site, get some feedback from the RA's and staff on their new experience, and have a bit of time off from my busy schedule back in Suva - the capital city where I manage 4 voluntary community projects as part of the Frontier Fiji experience. The week I was there flew by, but I squeezed in a lot. If I were to write my day to day schedule we would be here forever so here is a quick overview of one of the most incredible weeks I have ever experienced; trekking through the rain forest on the hunt for coconuts and land crabs, sleeping in a bamboo hut, drinking too much Kava with the islanders, snorkeling and diving with reef sharks manta rays puffer fish sea cucumber and turtles, eating paw paws and giant avocado's, a bonfire on the beach, rum on the beach, bread making - and eating, sunsets from the wharf, an abundance of coconuts milk, visiting church eating a Fijian feast and generally chilling with the local village islanders who are so wonderfully kind and hospitable. The best thing about this project is the new location. Volunteers get to dive and research into unknown territory and get to stamp their own mark on the area. The first phase of volunteers to provide survey results for this area have already discovered some 'sweet' dive sites, taking it upon themselves to creative some quirky names for a few of them already. I myself, already being a member of staff, mostly enjoyed visiting the local village and generally hanging out with the islanders. I have done a fair amount of travelling/living/working in developing countries over the last 4 years and I can honestly say that Fijians have the most amazing community spirit, the biggest of smiles and are the most hospitable people I have ever met. I fully recommend a visit to Fiji, and I highly recommend signing up to one of the Frontier Fiji voluntary projects for an unforgettable inspiring coconut fueled gap year experience. If you choose to live on an island for 10 weeks I would suggest taking a large supply of food spices, vitamin supplements, peanut butter, tea bags and never forgetting sun cream! I can't wait for another visit later in the year to see how things have progressed!
Volunteering with Frontier gives you the potential to really immerse yourself into a community. It gives you the opportunity to not only engage in your project (teaching) but allows you to get to know the wider community involved in the project.
Due to the accomodation being closely connected to the project site, this allows you to gain a deeper meaning and understanding of the country and the local culture.
When you're out in the field and have any uncertainties, Frontier provide guidance and support whilst encouraging you to use your own initiative and develop life skills.
Honestly these past 2 weeks have been tough but is all the more rewarding knowing my efforts are making a difference to the lives of many children.
I can't wait to see what the next week brings...
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