Rebecca Wallace - Think Pacific, Volunteer in Fiji

Written by Rebecca Wallace, BSc Biomedical Science DPP, Think Pacific, Volunteer in Fiji, 2023.

14 Mar 2024   3 min read

Rebecca Wallace - Think Pacific, Volunteer in Fiji

Volunteer in Fiji, 2023

"My volunteer experience with Think Pacific was a transformative journey of cultural immersion, community engagement, and personal growth, fostering lasting friendships and making a positive impact in the lives of others (and mine!)."

Memorable moments

Any moment of connection with the local community was the biggest highlight. Building relationships with the youth, families, and community leaders allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of their culture, traditions, and way of life.

It would be impossible to pick just one memory but how quickly my host family became like my real family was surreal, how caring they were and how they openly invited me into their home and treated me as their daughter and sister will always stick with me. I specifically remember one afternoon where my Nana was trying to teach me and a fellow volunteer a church hymn in Fijian and we laughed so much (I'm not a good singer and all Fijians are!!!).

Witnessing the transformation and growth of the youth participants throughout the program was incredibly rewarding and memorable. Whether through educational workshops, leadership activities, or community projects, seeing the youth gain confidence, develop new skills, and realize their potential was a truly inspiring experience.

Experiencing a new culture

In the Fijian culture, there is a strong emphasis on community and social connections. I observed that family and community ties are highly valued, and people often prioritize collective well-being over individual interests. This sense of community cohesion was evident in the way people supported each other and worked together to address common challenges.

Compared to the fast-paced lifestyle often found in the UK, life in Fiji seemed more relaxed and laid-back. I noticed that people seemed to take a slower approach to daily activities, savouring moments of leisure and prioritising quality time with loved ones. This slower pace of life fostered a sense of mindfulness and appreciation for the present moment. 'Fiji time' is definitely an aspect I have tried to bring home with me.


Adjusting to a new cultural setting brought initial hurdles, from language differences to unfamiliar customs. Embracing these challenges with patience and an open mind enabled me to maximize my learning experience.

The biggest challenge I faced was leaving the village! I would have stayed for another month at least if I could have! My Fijian family and me were crying so much that day, I really hope to return sometime.

Friendships to last a lifetime

During our time as volunteers in Fiji, our shared mission of making a positive impact in the community acted as a catalyst for forming friendships. Bonding over mutual experiences and projects, our group from Ulster University quickly became a tight-knit community, supporting one another through challenges and fostering a sense of belonging. Engaging with the local community further enriched our social circle, allowing us to connect with diverse individuals and build friendships based on mutual respect and cultural exchange.

Remaining open-minded to new experiences and embracing cultural differences facilitated cross-cultural connections and friendship-building. Thanks to the supportive environment provided by the programme organizers and fellow volunteers, opportunities for social interaction and collaboration were abundant, whether through organized events or informal gatherings, enabling us to forge lasting friendships.


Firstly, invest time in researching programs that resonate with your aspirations – finding a perfect match greatly fuels motivation and enriches your project. Secondly, be open-minded, respecting diverse cultures encountered along the way. Embrace new experiences with positivity, as flexibility is key in navigating unexpected challenges.

Engage with local communities and immerse yourself in their culture, seizing every moment to make meaningful connections. Reflect on your journey, jotting down thoughts and lessons learned. Finally, relish the unique opportunities presented, making lasting memories and embracing personal growth within a new cultural canvas.