Take a minute and reflect upon that moment in your life when you were the furthest out of your comfort zone that you have ever been. Now imagine that amplified beyond expectation!
That is exactly how I felt when I first arrived at my placement in Fiji. I knew nobody’s name, could hardly speak the language and was immediately given my own class to teach. It became very clear to me that I had two options, to sink or to swim?
I chose the latter.
Over the time I spent in Fiji, I had been put in situations and experienced things that I could have never possibly imagined in my wildest dreams. I grew as a person in ways that I certainly did not expect. I developed strong resilience whilst experiencing some hard times such as sickness. I became physically and mentally strong from undertaking taxing, hard work. I learnt leaps and bounds about myself during times of solitude. I learnt that is it okay to just give it a go, even when you have no idea what you are doing and the odds are stacked against you.
Overall, I would have to say that I learnt to just go with the flow without resistance, keep a big smile on your face and a strong sense of optimism in your heart and mind.
The biggest party with the most amazing feast that I have ever seen in Fiji was thrown for my departure. Every single member of the school community came to wish me farewell. I was presented with two incredibly meaningful tokens of appreciation and then asked to give a speech. There I stood with all eyes gazing up at me and I began to speak. As I looked out at the sea of smiling faces, I realized that I might not ever see these amazing people; my family, my friends and my students, ever again. Suddenly I and everyone in the crowd were overcome by tears and emotion. It was a truly moving moment. I knew that although I was departing, I was leaving a big piece of my heart behind. One day I would come back to get it.
- Matt Norrish, Teacher, Fiji - 2016