Written By: Carolina Niebla
On June 12, Gianfranco and Giovanna Key ventured on a 16 day trip to Fiji for a program called “Rustic Pathways.” Rustic Pathways allows students from all around the world to take trips during the summer and spring break. They also provide gap year trips for college students. They participate in community service, their projects depend on where they go.
Gianfranco and Giovanna went to three different places in Fiji: the Nausori Highlands, Vaturu Dam and Kuata Island.
On the first day, they chose their partners and shopped for gifts for the host families that they were staying with. They stayed in small village houses and got to know the families.
They spent the first six days in the Nausori Highlands painting schools and building sidewalks in the village. There was only electricity from 6-10 p.m., the only time they would turn the generators on. Aside from those four hours, they had no electricity. They could not drink from the water and had to be extremely cautious.
Everybody on the trip was from different parts of the world with only one other person from Miami.
“In Kuata Island we had more leisure time. There we got to do things such as skydive and shark diving with bull sharks. These were two separate trips. For skydiving, they take you on an airport to a super small plane with only 3 people. It’s a 15 minute ride up to the top and at 14,000
feet is where you fall for about a minute. I was terrified but it was amazing,” Gianfranco said.
“The culture in Fiji is very different than it is here. Me and my friend would walk around and were offered cigarettes and the parents let their children run around everywhere without any concern of what might happen to them. One time we took a hike to a waterfall and the kids were jumping around a cliff not caring what might happen and their parents were okay with it,” Giovanna said.
In Vaturu Dam they continued their community service and spent more time getting to know everybody.
“My community service trip to Fiji humbled me in so many ways. I realized that happiness does not originate from the amenities of the first world but rather by the people and the environment that surrounds you” Gianfranco said.