Posted by: Alicia Phillips | May 25, 2011

Do I Really Live Here?!?!?!?!

Fair warning….this is going to be a long post!

The Place

SO I knew Fiji would be beautiful, everyone knows Fiji is beautiful, I was expecting it. But when I got off the plane and on to a bus for the 3 hour ride along the coast to our training site, I was completely blown away. The mountains! The ocean! The greenery! The flowers! The people! The dwellings! The wildlife! Everything here is so green and fertile. Mom, you will love it here.

The heat and humidity here is pretty intense. It is overcast and it has rained everyday (even though we are technically in the dry, cold season. The hot, wet season should be fun). So no, I do not have a banging tan, if anything I am pastier than I was in America. Hopefully that will change.

Mosquito’s are brutal and everyone has to sleep under a mosquito net for the duration of our stay. Which is fun, it makes me feel fancy. J

The people

I came over with a group of 26 other volunteers. I don’t know what to say about my group other than they are some of the nicest, funniest, intelligent, most talented, motivated, cultured, independent, driven, and just overall good people that I have ever been surrounded by. I have already made such good friends and I think the fact that we all are in the same situation forces us to trust and depend on each other, which makes us closer. I feel very blessed to have such an awesome group.

We all stayed together at a resort for the first night, where we learned water safety and got our vaccinations. Then we all went to a sort of technical college for 3 nights for training. Now we are all placed with our individual host families, in 5 different host villages. Every Thursday the group will meet up in Nasouri town for training and shopping, and every Friday we all visit a different settlement to get a bit of culture training from each group.  Cool, huh??

The job

This leads me to my job. Let me give you a little background first. Fiji is made up of 2 main demographics: Fijian and indo-Fijian. PC sends volunteers to both types of communities; most volunteers go to Fijian villages and a select few get to go to Indo-Fijian communities. I am one of those select few!! So, this means that I am learning Hindi (Namaskaraam!), going to temple, living with an south-Indian family, and will most likely get placement in an urban setting where I will be working with a larger cooperation for my project, as opposed to living in a Fijian village and doing an individual project. Yes, I am stoked about this. There were only 4 of us that were chosen to learn Hindi, it is a pretty coveted assignment in my group!

My host family consists of two sisters and a brother. I live in a very nice house, no air-conditioning, no hot water, but beautiful and big, and my host mothers are so sweet and helpful when it comes to helping me with my language homework and teaching me to cook and wash my clothes.

The food

Did I mention the food as a perk of getting Hindi? Because Damn! Indian food is GOOD! Today for lunch my host mom made a delicious bean, potato, and eggplant curry with homemade roti, cucumber salad, and freshly squeezed lemonade. So no worries family, I am getting PLENTY to eat! Plus there are always fresh fruits and vegetables here. And a big plus for me, my host mothers are very health conscious, so lots of healthy foods!

Peace Corps gave me a water filter that I am drinking my water out of every day. I made a mess the first night I set it up. I put it together then poured a ton of water in it, then, like an idiot, I walked away. Of course, the spout was on and all the water leaked on to the floor, so there was a flood in the kitchen, and my host mom wouldn’t let me help clean it up. Great first impression, huh? Geez…..

The Language:

Like I said earlier, I am learning Hindi, but it is different than traditional Hindi, because in Fiji it is a mix of Hindi, Fijian, and English. SO, in the long run, knowing Fiji Hindi will be more useful to me than knowing Fijian, but not by much. But I am going to try and be an all-star and learn both languages; I will definitely have the time.

I have been given a new Hindi name: Arti. Pronounced R-T.  I go by this name in class and around my family and neighbors.

Everyone keeps asking where I am from, because I have such a strong southern accent.  Almost everyone else in my group is from up north: New York, Philly, Boston, California, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. It’s my mission to get everyone saying ya’ll and holy buckets. Ha!

So……Hindi is confusing. Sentence structure is all jumbled. Let me show you what I’m working with…..

In English:

Q: Where are you from?  A: I am from America.     Simple huh?

In Hindi:

Q: You where from came is? A: I America from came is.  (But only I say it in Hindi) NOT SIMPLE!!

But surprisingly, I am picking it up pretty quickly.

You may be wondering how I have internet?  Well, I do not have internet in my host village, but I am only a 30 minute walk from Nasouri, where they have internet cafes.

I am stilling having trouble convincing myself that I am here to work and not on a vacation, because I am having so so so much fun! I have not had any seconds thoughts or moments of panic when I think “What the hell am I doing here?” not yet.  I know it will probably happen, but for right now, this all feels so right!

Well, if you made it to the end of this post, I congratulate you! Sorry it was so long, in the future, when I have more immediate access to the internet I will be able to post more often and won’t have to put an entire week’s worth of material in one post. Also, when I get faster internet I will be able to include pictures in my posts. Thanks for sticking with me! PLEASE leave me a comment! I want to know what everyone is up to! I sure do miss my family and friends!

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Responses

  1. Alicia, we love you!! It is SO GOOD to hear from you and we aren’t surprised at all to hear that you are loving life and got yourself a rock star assignment. I read the post aloud to Cy and Charlie, so Charlie knows all about what Aunt Lulu is up to! I LOVE that you are going to have all of Fiji saying “Holy Buckets”. That makes me laugh. Hard. Keep up the posts! We miss you and love you so much!!!

  2. Hey friend! I’ve been thinking about you and hoping you were enjoying Fiji so far! I’m so glad it’s everything you hoped it would be. So you get to eat Indian cuisine everyday? That’s a pretty awesome perk. Have you seen any man-eating bugs yet?? Write me soon!

  3. Hey Darlin!!!!!! I’m so happy you wrote! I was just watching Steven Tyler sing his “Dream on” song on American Idol, by the way Scotty just won, and checked my email and there you were!!! You sound like you are having a ball, doing everything that I know you love to do. I am so glad you have a good mom away me to take care of you! Tell her thank you for me. I like the comment Whitney asked you about the man-eating bugs. Have you seen any wierd bugs or animals? Are there pretty flowers? I know you’re just lovin it! I love you darlin and Roman and I miss you so very much but also happy you are living your dream! Write soon, mom

  4. Hey Alicia! I’ve been reading your blog since you started it and I wanted to tell you that I am so glad you are doing this. You always were the type to go on adventures and I am thrilled that you are doing exactly what you want and having so much fun. The food sounds awesome and I know you will do a wonderful job learning the new language. Good luck and have fun! You keep writing and I will keep reading!

  5. AWESOME, Arti, cute name.. wonder how they figured that one. Oh you sound so happy!! I know I’m happy for you. It’s just wonderful that things are starting out to well for you over there. Not that there was ever any doubt. You will be excellent in the position they have selected for you. Like your Mom, you seems to be a “people person” and make friends easily because you are just natural and not a phony. There’s bound to be ups and downs there, as in any place, but I have a feeling you’ll totally enjoy the “ups” and learn from the “downs”. So God love you and bless you over there and keep us posted with your entertaining and enjoyable emails. Hopefully, you can give us some lessons in Hindi.. It would be cool to learn some words or phrases… and you’d be learnig to write (ie read) Hindi as well as speak it!! GO FOR IT< GAL. Hope to hear again soon!!! Aunt LouAnn n Uncle Herb

  6. Wow, Alicia! Or should I say Arti 🙂 I couldn’t even learn Spanish in highschool so the fact that you are learning a swirled up mix of Hindi and Fijian is quite impressive!! Let me know if you need anything, I would be glad to send it to ya!

  7. Alicia! That sounds amazing!! I’m so glad that you are loving it there. I wish you the best of luck with learning a new language. I really miss my work out partner. I’m so glad that you are just a 30 minute walk to an internet cafe, and that you are eating awesome Indian food. So jealous… 🙂 I can’t wait to see pics of the landscape, and your house where you are staying. By the way, how was your swim? Keep us up to date because I’m loving hearing about your adventure.
    Well I figure you want to know what is going on here in Jonesboro so I’ll give you a quick run down. Yesterday we had a lot of tornados in the area but nothing hit Jonesboro. Everyone was freaking out about it though because Joplin, MO got hit a week or so ago by a big one that killed like 100 people. On a lighter note, Will is growing bigger than ever and I have not been working out much. Hopefully I will do better this week. Miss you girl! Have lots of fun there!

  8. Awesome that you’re learning Hindi. I figured I’d try to help you out with your internet situation by offering you the internet at my house. Its free and on all day. My sister also wants to take you and a couple of your Peace Corp buddies out to a place called Colo-i-Suva and maybe grab dinner in Suva City. Its not too far from Nausori. I hope you’re holding up out there and like I promised, I’ll help you get better accomadated to the FIJI LIFE! Achar right na? Namaste Alicia…


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