A cultural experience

Posted on 13 August 2007

Fiji is an archipelago of 322 islands and lies 3,150 km northeast of Sydney. Together the Fiji Islands are scattered over 1,290,000 km2 of the South Pacific Ocean.
Fiji is an archipelago of 322 islands and lies 3,150 km northeast of Sydney. Together the Fiji Islands are scattered over 1,290,000 km2 of the South Pacific Ocean. Apart from these facts a country is determined by its inhabitants. Coming from a very individualized nation the Fijian culture is the total opposite – the community is the most important thing. Sharing is normal and everybody offers you anything. This fact helped me to get over the feeling of being alone firstly. One advantage of being in Fiji: you get to know two cultures, because many of the inhabitants are of Indian decendent. If you walk through Suva (the capital of Fiji on the largest island Viti Levu) there are many Indian shops, smells and sounds.

Meeting the WWF President Emeka Anyaoku

The first week of my Internship started very busy. Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the WWF President, visited Suva to join an award ceremony and announcement of Fiji’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) network on Wednesday 2 November 2005. When I met the chief in a briefing he told me that he has been to Germany two times and that he liked the country. He is a person with a very bright aura.

Village ceremonies

The second day of the event included a trip to Vanua Levu, the second biggest island of Fiji. 12 hours by boat and I got seasick…In the province Macuata the MPA around the Great Sea Reef was launched. We stayed in a typical Fijian village that has some strict rules, for example to wear a Sulu (long skirt) that covers your knees. It was very impressive to see all the traditional ceremonies like the Sevusevu (exchange of gifts between the host and guest) or the kava ceremony (Preparing and drinking the extract of the kava root). Even a very special dance, the Meke, was performed for the visitors. Apart from all the traditional events it was very interesting to talk to the villagers. They are willing to save their reef and believe in the importance of saving the natural resources for their children. That’s an attitude which is very important all over the world.

Back in the office

In the office I started to prepare for the next big adventure. I will be able to join a trip to Kabara, a little island in the Lau Group. I arranged a presentation and a survey for the Climate Witness project for school children. The presentation explains the causes and impacts of climate change and shows what actions can be taken to handle these impacts. The survey should help the children to do an interview with their grandparents to collect stories about the experiences with climate change.