November 29, 2019

Connor Csaszar Smiling

My name is Connor and I’m a second-year Cardiff Met student studying BA (Hons) Business and Management.

Instead of celebrating with a few drinks at the end of exam season in my first year, I was at home packing my bag preparing to leave for the trip of a lifetime to Fiji. The opportunity arose through a talk given at Cardiff Met by an organisation called VESA (Volunteering Eco Students Abroad). VESA offer volunteering trips to places like Fiji, Laos, Ecuador and South Africa. For me, Fiji was where I wanted to go.

We were encouraged to bring gifts – I figured I’d give them a Welsh tea towel!

It was a trip of a lifetime for sure! There were 50 other volunteer students from all around the world that I got to know; I now have friends in Malta and Canada that I would have never met before this trip.

I stayed in house with a Fijian family in a village called Kulumbu. Most of the time, the music was blaring and there was dancing. It was such a culture shock for us Westerners as we live such reserved lives in comparison! When we weren’t dancing the days away at home, we were working in the local school.

Me and the other Volunteer boys with our “Fiji mom”

Our volunteering mission was to paint the local Kulumbu community school. We gave the school a nice new lick of paint to give it a fresh look. I also taught some first aid to the school kids as I’m a lifeguard and so I have First Aid experience.

The boys of the trip were also taught the traditional Fijian war dance, known as the Cibi. It involved a lot of shouting and looking intimidating. My favourite memory was when we were first learning it and we had all of the smaller children watching us perform. The first time we did the dance correctly, the audience of school kids are screaming and cheering; it was one of those moments where I wish it was recorded! I’ll never forget how much they cheered for us, it was like we were heroes to them, these Westerners coming to their small village to paint their school and perform their war dance.

Student volunteers
Our last day in Kulumbu Village!

My advice to anybody would be to make the most of your time in University: join societies, meet new people and most of all, take every opportunity you can!