Fiji

From Underdogs to Champions!

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Megan Conway is a student at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington, and an ISA Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Suva, Fiji.

Like a flower that grows through concrete; Fiji is shining in beauty and mystery of how it came to be. An island that only has one main highway wrapping around the whole perimeter of the coast, Fiji is left mostly unexplored besides a few famous resorts. There is more to Fiji then what you google on your laptop. Most of the pictures you find on Pinterest or that pop up on your Facebook are actually smaller islands settled off of the largest island where I reside, Viti Levu. Fiji is thought of to be paradise, an escape from every day life, a place to live, be stress free and get a nice tan.

The reality of Fiji is very far from the perceived view, but is actually much more. Fiji is a developing nation, meaning that it is not as industrialized as other countries. Despite this, Fiji has a heart of gold and the spirit to overcome many obstacles in its way. The 2016 Rio Olympics has put Fiji’s character on the map and has gone on to inspire people from all over the world. Professor Rajesh Chandra at the University of the South Pacific, goes on to say that “this is a big deal for Fiji and for the Pacific as it demonstrates that we can overcome our limitations of size, low income, and many other vulnerabilities and handicaps and take on the big boys internationally.” There are an abundance of lessons that can be taken away from the example Fiji has led in the Olympics.

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The streets were filled with both men, women and children smiling and waving and cheering celebrating the amazing victories of the small country.

Fiji has only made 16 appearances in the Olympics, not once taking a medal home until 2016, in Men’s Rugby. The celebration was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Suva broke out absolute pandemonium and a public holiday was declared in the Olympians honor. The streets were consumed in a sea of people covered head to toe in a deep sky blue. Fijian flags were worn, strung, and hung from every household, telephone pole, car, and body. The homecoming of our champions was on August 22nd, but the whole weekend leading up to the celebration was filled with consistent screaming, honking, and blasting of a tune called “Go Fiji Go”.

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Tosu Viti Tosu, or Go Fiji Go was the anthem for Fiji during the Olympics and was played and sung through the streets.

Decked out in my own Fiji flag, my friends and I took to the streets to immerse ourselves in the adrenaline. People of all ages were congratulating each other, hugging, and waving in awe of the accomplishments. I have never felt more acceptance and excitement in my life then I did that day in Suva. The locals didn’t care about our skin color, they didn’t care about our gender, they didn’t care about the place we originated from. They embraced our differences and took us into their own culture showing us the most caring and loving side of Fiji along the way. On that day, all the resistance I met in adapting to my new life diminished.

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The rain didn’t stop anyone from entering the ANZ Stadium to greet the Olympic team!

The world awaits…discover it.

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