Over 20 students from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia relished their time spent at The University of the South Pacific (USP) earlier this month as they learnt about the rich culture and traditions of Fiji and the Pacific.
The group, the majority of whom are medical students travelled to Fiji for two weeks to take in a full Pacific experience at USP and the team were also part of a tour to a local village, just outside Suva.
30-year-old Bachelor of Biomedical Science student, Mr Sascha Rankin said the welcome had been overwhelming and they enjoyed their experience at USP and in Fiji.
“We always hear about the Fijian culture and there is always a great mention of the people and until you have experienced it, it is hard for you to appreciate how welcoming the community is,” Mr Rankin added.
He said, “I see so many people around USP, whether it is the students or the faculty or the tour guides who go far out of their way to make our experience the best it possibly is. As a visitor and student, you can appreciate it and see the effort everyone is putting in to show us Fijian culture and to allow us to integrate into the student community here.”
Mr Rankin explained that while in Fiji he was most interested to learn and see the way traditional culture intersects with health and modern society.
“Because it is really interesting in Fiji with such a rich traditional history and across the Pacific, the way those traditional practices have existed over thousands of years and they are still influencing people’s lives today in terms of health and behaviours,” he added.
For Bachelor of Counselling student Jessica Maddison, having USP students as their buddies during their stay and visit to the campus was enriching as they also learnt how students interacted with each other even though they were from different Pacific Island countries.
“It’s been fantastic to get to experience first-hand, the idea of Oceania and how everything operates here from the traditional practices to how things are done today in the modern age,” she said.
The 21-year-old was keen to learn how traditions may influence development moving forward and how these perspectives can be most valued.
During their stay at USP, the Griffith University students also got a chance to meet with the Climate Change team from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Director of Climate Change, Mr Kushaal Raj said they were able to share with students from Griffith University some of their key mandates.
“Some of what our work focuses on climate adaptation and mitigation, and how to respond to atrocities caused by the impacts caused by climate change through climate financing,” Mr Raj said.
He said they were grateful to USP for the chance to give international students an insight into the work they do and some of the projects their teams are currently working including the relocation of certain villages and communities.