Hi, I’m Emma studying BA Languages and Contemporary European Studies and will be going into my fourth year. I’m sure like me you have spent a considerable amount of time at home over the past few months and perhaps wanted to do a new activity. I came across a university email offering a variety of virtual internships and the one with Think Pacific caught my attention.
Think Pacific is a UK volunteer organisation as well as a registered Fijian charity. It operates in direct partnership with the Fijian Government to help the country implement their National Development Plan to transform Fiji. The plan sets out a vision to make Fiji an even more progressive and inclusive society. As someone who wanted to know more about charity work and loves to find out about other countries, I decided to apply for the virtual internship. What was particularly inspiring about it was being able to do something that would help others.
Think Pacific had various internship fields and I decided to choose NGO Management. The internship began with a ‘Discovery Phase’ which included finding out about Fiji and its culture. I used to think Fiji was just one island but it is in fact made up of roughly 333 islands. It was fascinating to find out about Fijian beliefs in spirits as well as their concept of ‘kerekere’, meaning you can ask for a favour without expecting to be repaid. Then, I explored another module which was finding out about NGO Management. I was especially interested in the ‘Manage A Campaign’ section as I wanted to create a campaign.
The next part of the internship was the ‘Decide Phase.’ This is where the interns could pick an ‘Action Project’ which was the work we would be doing for the partners of Think Pacific. There was a wide range of projects available from businesses and charities. I chose a project with the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, a charitable organisation which aims to eliminate domestic violence against women. I designed a social media campaign to increase online awareness and advocacy for women’s rights. It was really enjoyable coming up with creative ideas for the campaign and thinking about how to increase people’s engagement.
In terms of the weekly structure of the programme, there were a variety of zoom sessions. My favourite ones were the Fiji Guest Speaker Series which involved live talks from professionals working in Fiji, for example Dr Austin Bowden discussed coral gardening and the Pacific reef systems, as well as the live Friday Culture Sessions where one morning I tried Fijian weaving and on another, I started my day doing the traditional Fijian dance known as the meke. Learning about the Fijian drink kava, also called grog gave an incredible insight into the ceremonial aspect of Fijian life. At such ceremonies, the Fijians will sit down on the floor to drink it as this is a sign of respect.
I would highly recommend this virtual internship as a way to boost your skills and make an impact. If you have other commitments what makes this internship great is its flexibility. I had the choice of a four-week or eight-week programme and the Zoom sessions were always recorded.
Here are a few Fijian phrases and words I learnt from the project:
Bula vinaka – hello, good morning
Kana – food, eat
Vinaka – thank you
Vinaka vaka levu – thank you very much