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The Peace Corps began its program in Fiji in 1968. It was closed in 1998 but reopened in 2003.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Fiji
The Peace Corps has had a long and highly successful history of service in Fiji. Prior to suspending operations in early l998, Volunteers served the country for 30 years without interruption. More than 2,200 Peace Corps Volunteers have worked with local communities and organizations in various sectors, including education, business, environmental resource management, health, fisheries, and agriculture.
Notable past achievements by Peace Corps Volunteers include introducing environmental themes into secondary school curricula, small business projects with the Fiji Development Bank and Junior Achievement, and programming with both the Ministry of Youth and Ministry of Women. Volunteers significantly impacted the highly regarded Management Planning Advisors project by training local government staff in organizational and project planning. Their contribution of management skills and tools are still evident in many provincial and district offices throughout Fiji.
In 2002, the government of Fiji requested that the Peace Corps return. An assessment team came to Fiji and found that Peace Corps could once again make meaningful and substantive contributions to the development of Fiji. In late 2003, the program reopened. Volunteers now work in two project sectors: integrated environmental resource management and community health promotion.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles
Main article: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Fiji
You will be living with a host family during your 10 weeks of training in Fiji. You will soon discover that families are very important to the people of Fiji and that living with a host family can be both enjoyable and challenging. Going into the experience, you should definitely set some learning goals and make sure that you’re getting the most out of your host family experience—including language, cultural, and other adjustment issues.
Your living accommodation is intended to be modest and comparable to that of your counterparts and neighbors. As in any country, housing in Fiji varies from place to place in architecture and amenities. Village houses (bures) may be constructed of coconut fronds or they may be made of wood, concrete block, or corrugated iron. Depending on assignment and project area, Volunteers will either live in a village, in a government compound, or in a rural housing area. In some cases, Volunteers may share accommodations with another Peace Corps Volunteer and/or with another international volunteer or host country colleagues. Please note that Volunteers may be required to live with a host family for the first few months at their site or all of their service based on site location and/or village resources.
Main article: Training in Fiji
Training is an essential part of your Peace Corps service. The goal is to provide you with the necessary support, information, and opportunities to acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will enable you to live and work effectively in Fiji. In doing so, we plan to build upon the experiences and expertise you bring to Peace Corps. We expect that you will approach your training with an open mind, a desire to learn, and a willingness to become involved. Peace Corps trainees officially become Peace Corps Volunteers after successfully completing training.
The 10-week pre-service training lets you learn new skills and practice them as they apply to Fiji. You will receive training and orientation in components of language, cross-cultural communication and adaptation, development issues, health and personal safety, and technical skills pertinent to your specific assignment. The skills you learn will serve as a foundation upon which you build your experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji. You will have plenty of opportunities to experience local culture and customs on your own while living with your host family and during community-based training.
During the first few days of pre-service training, you will stay together at a central training facility where you will receive vaccinations and be introduced to basic language skills and to the cross-cultural adaptation process. After this initial period, you will shift to another training site to begin the next phase of training. During this phase, known as community-based training, the group will split up and live with host families in small villages. The host family experiences will help bring to life some of the topics covered in training and provide a chance to practice your new language skills and to observe and participate in Fijian culture. The host family experience is intense, but it can be one of the most rewarding aspects of your service in country.
The training goals and assessment criteria that each trainee has to reach before becoming a Volunteer will be clearly articulated at the beginning of training. Evaluation of your performance during training is a continual process, characterized by a dialogue between you and the training staff. The training staff, along with the permanent office staff, will provide feedback throughout training. If you are able to successfully complete pre-service training, you will then swear-in as a Volunteer and make final preparations for your departure to your permanent site.
Training is intense and sometimes stressful. The best advice we can give you is to maintain your sense of humor and try to get as much out of pre-service training as possible. We believe all the information and experiences you encounter will be valuable to your effectiveness as a Volunteer.
Your Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health Care and Safety in Fiji
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is the health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Fiji maintains a clinic with a full-time medical officer who takes care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, radiology, dentistry, and access to some specialists, are also available in Fiji. If a Volunteer’s health needs cannot be met in Fiji, the Volunteer may be sent to Australia or to the U.S. for further evaluation and treatment.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Fiji
In Fiji, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs will be judged in a cultural context very different from our own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics considered familiar and commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in certain host countries.
Outside of Fiji’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles of other countries. What is viewed as “typical” cultural behavior or norms may also be a narrow and selective interpretation, such as the perception by some that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. Foreigners justly acknowledge the people of Fiji for their generous hospitality; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to differences that you present. We ask you to be supportive of one another.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities:
- Possible Issues for Married Volunteers
Frequently Asked questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Fiji
- How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to Fiji?
- Can I ship items to myself once I arrive?
- Should I bring my SCUBA gear or have it sent to me?
- What is the electric current in Fiji?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation?
- When can my family and friends visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- What should I bring as gifts for Fiji friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish pre-service training and how isolated will I be?
- How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- Can I call home from Fiji?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- Will there be e-mail and Internet access?
- Should I bring my computer and other electronics?
Main article: Packing List for Fiji
This list has been compiled by Volunteers who currently serve in Fiji and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You can always have things sent to you later. You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Fiji.
- General Clothing
- For Women:
- For Men:
- All Volunteers
- Kitchen and Home
- Miscellaneous and Personal Items
- Volunteers who are currently serving in Fiji
- Volunteers who served in Fiji
- Friends of Fiji
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- List of resources for Fiji