Service learning is a key element of learning at Kempsey Adventist School (KAS).
This year marks the eleventh year that KAS has taken a Year 11 group of students to Fiji where they are thoroughly immersed in the culture and people.
After arriving in Nadi, the students and staff flew in a very small plane to the island of Valualeu, where they then rode in a truck for two hours, before finally arriving at Buca Bay, where students and staff were greeted warmly by Vatuvonu Adventist Secondary School.
Over the next two weeks, students were involved in serving students and staff at Vatuvonu by cleaning, teaching and gardening.
The students also surprised the primary students with craft supplies and sport equipment and they developed relationships by playing games with the students.
Year 11 student, Jack, felt as though while they went to Fiji with the intention of serving the school community at Buca Bay, they were instead served themselves.
Each day, the school staff and families provided beautiful meals for the KAS group, with fresh tropical fruit and western food like pizzas to make them feel at home.
As a result of fundraising by the group, KAS was able to organize the installation of also solar power to Vatuvonu school as, previously, the school electricity was supplied solely by a generator.
The Vatuvonu staff are so excited that now they will be able to charge up the few computers that they have.
The students at Vatuvonu shared with the KAS students that while they may not seem to have much, the hurdles and challenges that they face are pathways to a better life.
Many of the young people who live in Buca Bay aspire to go to university and make a difference in the lives of others, which brought home for the KAS students, the value of education and health that they may take forgranted every day.
In reflection of their trip, the students were able to perceive that the happiness that the people of Buca Bay enjoyed was not just because they lived on a beautiful tropical island, but because rather than obsessing about their possessions their time was spent valuing their friends and families and having good, simple fun. ‘You don’t need a lot to be happy’ was a common observation.
After their time at Vatuvonu, the KAS team enjoyed a day at Hannibal’s Resort where they kayaked, swam and snorkeled, enjoying the paradise that Valualeu offered.
Our KAS students returned reluctantly to Australia, with new perspectives on their lives, many determined to finish school strongly and to find a career where they can be of benefit to those less fortunate than themselves.
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