Gap year Fiji! Fiji is made up of a group of 333 islands in the tropical South Pacific with a mixture of Melanesian, Polynesian, Micronesian and European influences. The local people are warm, friendly and extremely generous, despite often having little in the form of material possessions and wealth.
Fiji is a developing country with an enchanting mix of cultural traditions, strong religious faiths and stunning scenery. Our volunteers work mainly among smaller rural schools, where they use skills gained from their own educational background to improve people’s lives.
Fiji Placement roles
Most of the work placements in Fiji involve teaching volunteers working in a variety of schools such as rural district schools, kindergartens, special education schools, high schools and centres for children with various disabilities.
Although the focus on most placements across Fiji will be utilising your knowledge to teach in schools and similar institutions, due to the nature of the Fijian culture, volunteers will almost certainly end up working closely alongside the local community. Whether playing sport with the local children or helping out with local building projects, volunteers will always be getting involved with the community they are staying within a range of different ways. Some of the most common things you will be involved with are: teaching, library supervision, homework supervision, escorting children to and from school, developing website and social media presence, admin and helping advise on village and community management.
Living with a host family in Fiji will give you a real insight into Fijian culture as part of an amazing gap year. Volunteers will be kept busy far beyond their volunteering duties, whether that is helping their hosts cook and prepare food for meals to being involved in village celebrations.
Work placements in Fiji also allow volunteers to be proactive and use their skills and interests to start their own projects, whether that is an after school club or sports training, you will find plenty of willing participants.
Placements in Fiji are primarily in English teaching roles but there are some schools that require volunteers with skills and qualities that could be used to support children who have special needs. You will gain skills that will improve how you communicate and engage with people, how to teach and share knowledge, how to think creatively, and how to work as part of a team.
What To Expect
Volunteers in Fiji tend to work from 8am-4pm in a range of different English teaching roles. You could be working in a secondary boarding school with around 185 students and be helping pupils with their spoken and written English language skills. In this school, where you would live with other teachers within the school compound, you would also have the opportunity to get involved in PE, music, arts and crafts, as well as assisting other teachers with boarding house duties.
Alternatively, you could be placed in a more rural setting on Moturiki Island. Volunteers in this placement work alongside 6 other teachers in a small school for 5-16 year olds, 20 minutes away from the nearest village. If you are placed here you will need to be prepared to make suggestions as to how best you can be used, as well as being prepared to take responsibility for a class by yourself. Although the role is technically an English teaching assistant one, many volunteers have in fact found that they have often been asked to take a class of their own in the school. All lessons are taught in English but most children will only speak Fijian at home, so you must be prepared to deal with varying levels of English language abilities. Despite these potential challenges, the other teachers in the school are very supportive and ex-volunteers have spoken highly of the close relationships they have formed within the rural community.
Due to the nature of Fijian culture, wherever you are placed you will be expected to help in the community as well. Activities will vary accordingly from community to community and from volunteer to volunteer. Whether your strengths lie in sport and you are involved with beach rugby with the community children, to working alongside the villages preparing feasts. There will never be a dull moment and the opportunities to get involved in all manner of activities are only limited to your own initiative!
Accommodation and food
Accommodation varies from living in a room on site, to staying with a local Fijian family. Food is supplied in conjunction with accommodation. Fijians eat almost anything at any time. Dalo (or taro) and cassava are root vegetables and, with bread and fruit, are the staple diet in rural areas. Food is eaten on a beautiful home-made reed mat.
Is it for me?
Few volunteering placements on a gap year offer such a culturally rich experience. Volunteers become immersed in the traditional Fijian way of life while contributing to the local community. It will suit people who are proactive, outgoing and willing to think outside the box. The work can be challenging, the accommodation is basic and the food is quite alternative! However the whole experience is guaranteed to be truly exhilarating and enormously rewarding.
Need to know
- Pre departure briefing – all volunteers are invited to a group briefing prior to departure
- On arrival – all volunteers have a five-day group orientation in Fiji
Free Time & Travel
Your evening and weekend activities will depend partly on which island you are placed. In more rural locations, your hosts will include you in their social gatherings and will make you feel at home in no time. If you are placed on Ovalau island, you will find internet cafes, shops and other amenities in Nadi, where the international airport is located. Many tourist activities are also available in Nadi all year round.
Aside from this, in your spare time you may take advantage of Fiji’s reputation as the “soft coral capital of the world”. Grab a snorkel and explore the stunning underwater landscape at your nearest beach or simply spend a few hours relaxing by the sea on a bed of white sand. For longer periods of time off, you could visit fellow volunteers placed on their respective islands. Many companies offer island hopping tours around Fiji and this is an excellent way of getting to know the country better. You can also visit the Yasawa group, a chain of ancient volcanic islands renowned for their stunning turquoise lagoons. Another option would be to take a boat up the Navua River. Glide past indigenous villages and pristine waterfalls, stopping now and then to take a dip in the cooling waters and to sample a tropical Fijian lunch.
Volunteers have the opportunity to travel around Fiji at the end of their placement and many choose to explore Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific islands before leaving. Dragging yourself away from your placement may be difficult, but if you do you’ll find over 300 islands to explore, reefs to dive, beaches to snorkel from, rainforests to trek in, villages to visit and people to befriend. Fiji is fascinating and enticing and you may never want to leave.
Lattitude Application Fee – $175
The application fee covers the cost of processing applications and conducting interviews.
Whenever possible, we like to travel to your area to interview you in person, but if not possible, video conferencing using Skype is an alternative.
All applicants are guaranteed an interview. This fee is non-refundable.
Lattitude Placement Fee – $4000
The Lattitude placement fee covers your preparation & support prior to departure as well as in-country support whilst on placement. This is payable in two installments:
Upon acceptance to the Lattitude programme, a non-refundable $1000 deposit is payable within 7-10 days.
The balance of your Lattitude fee is payable 40 days prior to departure.
Orientation – $500
Volunteers receive an informative group orientation upon arrival in their placement country.
This includes safety & security briefings, an overview of the local culture & customs, language skills (where relevant), and other handy tips. Teaching skills courses may also take place where relevant.
• In depth matching process to align your skills and interests with a placement that really suits you
• Assigned Volunteer Coordinator to help with all your pre-departure advice and guidance
• Links with returned volunteers
• Advice on obtaining police checks
• Advice on obtaining a Visa
• Pre-departure briefing seminar
• Airport pickup on arrival
• Accommodation for the duration of stay (either with a host family or on placement site)
• Food provided by host (may not include every meal, but you will know what to expect before your arrival)
• Day to day support from your placement host and a member of staff as your mentor
• 24/7 support from Lattitude, including in-country support from local reps and the Lattitude Country Manager
• Focus on your personal volunteer learning and development
• Returned Volunteer follow up and Debrief Event
• Opportunity to join the Lattitude Alumni Association
• Certificate of completion and references (on request)
What’s not included:
In addition to the Lattitude fees above, volunteers will be required to pay for their own international flights, travel insurance and any visa costs. Lattitude staff will assist you in making these arrangements.
• International Flights – ex-Auckland approx. $750
• Travel Insurance – 6 months approx. 395
• Visa – $460
(based on 2018 prices – subject to change).
• GP medical clearance
• Travel doctor consultation (mandatory)
• Vaccinations (if applicable)
• Onward travel to placement (if applicable)
• Pocket Money for weekends/ holidays/post-placement travel
• Accommodation and food during holiday periods
As a charity we always recommend our volunteers to fundraise to help meet the costs involved in volunteering overseas. In many ways it is part of the whole experience. For more information and fundraising ideas please click here.
Placement Availability – 2019
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|Teaching (with Community Work)||August 2019||4 Months||Spaces Available|
Placement Availability – 2020
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|Teaching (with Community Work)||January 2020||7 Months||Spaces Available|
|Teaching (with Community Work)||August 2020||4 Months||Spaces Available|
“Everything is new and exciting, you learn to adapt and change your lifestyle, any materialistic item that was once important to you is now easy to live without, and your perception of the world completely changes."Mariah, Teacher