Grand Circle Travelers participate in a special donation in Fiji
Located on Viti Levu, the largest and most populous island in the archipelago of Fiji, Sigatoka serves as an educational center for the South Pacific nation. In 2009, Grand Circle Foundation launched a partnership with one of the schools in town, the Sigatoka District School, which is greatly in need of renovations. By summer of 2011, Foundation funds had repaired a damaged roof and installed ceiling fans for the classrooms.
On October 31, 2011—which happens to be Fiji's Cultural Discovery Day—the 38 travelers on Grand Circle's Australia, New Zealand & Fiji vacation were at the school when the latest donations were presented: a photocopier and a fax machine. They were indeed treated to a unique cultural discovery.
All of the school's students and teachers were present for the ceremony, which began with entertainment provided by the students. Three groups of students recited rhymes they had learned to help them master English—including one spirited rendition of a song about Kentucky Fried Chicken.
These recitations were followed by traditional Fijian Meke dances—a rare privilege for the Grand Circle travelers, as the dancers (about ten young women, ages 11 to 13) dressed in traditional white Tapas-cloth dresses that are worn only on very special occasions and are rarely seen by anyone, especially visitors.
More dance followed, with four more dancers performing traditional Polynesian dances—which, according to Meke tradition, tell stories of island history and legends. Finally, some of the boys performed the traditional Fijian war-cry, which is also often part of a Meke show.
After the entertainment, the photocopier and fax machine were formally presented to the school by the Grand Circle group's "Fijian Chief" for the day: Fred Jetter, an 11-time traveler from Cary, North Carolina. The gift was received in the traditional Fijian way, with speeches from the representative of the School Council, all of whom attended the ceremony. The entire group then enjoyed a taste of the ceremonial drink kava, the traditional sacramental brew of Polynesia, to celebrate a memorable occasion.
Featured in our November 2011 E-Newsletter. Read the full issue here.