Six More Fijians Graduate

Fiji is going to greatly benefit when six students, who graduated with degrees in various fields, return home from India. They are Ratu Wame Ravubale, Farzana Nisha, Arieta Vakasukawaqa, Binita
15 Jun 2015 11:59
Six More Fijians Graduate
Fijian students proud to stand together graduated during the convocation ceremony at Symbiosis International University in Pune, Maharashtra State in India. From left: Kaajal Devi, Binita Padayachi, Farzana Nisha, Arieta Vakasukawaqa, Shratika Naidu and Ratu Wame Ravubale. Photo: Mohammed Ashraf Ali

Fiji is going to greatly benefit when six students, who graduated with degrees in various fields, return home from India.

They are Ratu Wame Ravubale, Farzana Nisha, Arieta Vakasukawaqa, Binita Padayachi, Kaajal Devi and myself.

(Arieta and I are Fiji Sun journalists and return to work next month).

Graduates studying in three different states in India gathered at Symbiosis International University in Pune for convocation.

It was a joyous day for us as we donned our caps and gowns and readied ourselves with a big grin.

Graduation is an important milestone in our learning journey and as I spoke to the graduates, each had their own story of struggle to share. I would like to share these to encourage students who are yet to arrive in India.

At the same time it provides an opportunity for them to convey their appreciation to family and friends in Fiji while they wait to collect their certificates and documents.

These students came to India under Indian Cultural Centre for Relations (ICCR) scholarships to pursue different degree courses.


Ratu Wame Ravubale

Ratu Wame Ravubale of Nawaka, Nadi, completed his Bachelor of Science Agriculture (Honours) from Chaudhary Charan Singh (CCS) Haryana Agricultural University in Hisar, Haryana State, India.

The 23-year-old wants to work in research, particularly in plant breeding, to help with the improvement and sustainability of crops grown in Fiji.

“I have already planned and am willing to contribute my knowledge and skills for the agricultural development of Fiji,” Ratu Wame said.

He recalled how he started his life in India.

“During the first few months I had to adjust to the new environment, food and weather.

“I had problems with communication as English was rarely spoken in my area as well as lectures were delivered in Hindi,” he said.

However, he explained that as years passed by, with the help of the Indian classmates and fellow Fijians, life became much easier.

“I kept in contact with my family in Fiji via mobile phone and social media which reduced my longing for home.

“The challenging in day-to-day life was food, which was very spicy, but surprisingly now I am used to it,” he explained with laughter.

“What I will miss about India the most is its rich history as well as the cheap lifestyle and not forgetting Indian exotic cuisines,” Ratu Wame said.

The youngest of five siblings is very excited to graduate after fulfilling his life-long dream.

“I am very grateful to God, my family, friends and well-wishers who have guided and supported me in the four years of academic struggle,” he said.

“My father Filimoni Ravubale is my mentor and source of inspiration and I am forever thankful to him.”

He wished his father could see him in his graduation gown.

“In 2006 my father was diagnosed with brain tumor because he overworked himself just to provide food for us,” he said tearfully.

“Because of the sickness he lost his eyesight but God willing he will see a new sunrise after almost 10 years of darkness.”


Binita Vikashni Padayachi

Binita Vikashni Padayachi also graduated with the same degree and at the same college with Ratu Wame.

Binita, originally from Lautoka, Fiji, aims to become an agricultural officer.

“This is my second degree and with the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired, I wish to help Fiji’s agricultural development,” she said.

“During my stay in Haryana State I faced lot of difficulties.”

The 26-year-old lass explained how she had to adjust to the climate and people’s way of life in India.

“Despite all the odds I managed to survive and finish my studies through my parents’ support and encouragement,” Binita said.

She will be returning to Fiji next month.


Kaajal Kristika Devi

Kaajal Kristika Devi, 22, originally from Labasa, studied for a Bachelor in Commerce degree at Delhi University in New Delhi.

Kaajal said graduation was a normally a big event in Fiji but graduating with Bachelor’s degree in India was a much bigger achievement in her life.

“I was excited about the graduation since I am the only one from my paternal side who has attained this and I am really happy to have had the opportunity to study and experience life in India,” she said.

“ India was not really the way I had expected it to be and stepping out of Fiji, my home country, was a totally new beginning; it was the biggest decision I had taken in my life,” Kaajal said.

She said saying goodbye to my parents and my family was really hard but I managed since I was accompanied by other students.

“It was when I was alone that I started missing home.

“I really felt like running away to Fiji because the air was suffocating and the places seemed dirty,” she said.

She said the food tasted different then and mostly full of spices and masala.

“I even ended up having stomach infections and was seeing a doctor for almost four months,” Kaajal said.

She said there were a lot of problems and challenges.

She said in university, students were so ahead and understood better since they were taught a lot more in high school.

“The education quality is good but the system is not good,” she said.

“If there was something you have to do which requires signature from the college it takes so many days,” she said.

Despite all such issues Miss Devi was able to enjoy her stay in India because she stayed with Fijian students.

“I really appreciate and thank Joveci Katia for helping me out with everything,” Miss Devi said.

“My parents have been my mentors and all the credit of my success goes to them,” she said.

“All their life they worked so hard so that I could have a better life and education.”

The second eldest of three siblings hopes to become either a researcher or an accountant.


Farzana Nisha

Farzana Nisha successfully completed her Bachelor of Arts in Politics at Fergusson College, which is affiliated to Savitribai Phule Pune University in Maharashtra State, India.

The former journalist also did a Diploma in International Relations, Human Rights and Role of International Law from Abeda Inamdar Senior College of Arts, Science and Commerce.

Farzana of Nausori said the journey to graduation has been tough but her right attitude and will to do something in life kept her going.

“Being the eldest in the family and with a lot of responsibilities to shoulder I did not give up,” she said.

“My mother, who’s always been my mentor, encouraged me to stand tall through the most difficult times.

“I always believed in myself and finally I did it,” Farzana said.

She said it was very important to plan goals in life.

“I have always planned things and sometimes it does not work out but as the saying goes -there is a hundred and one ways to skin a cat.”

She said going home with a degree in political science from a renowned college and university, she has high hopes to get a good job.

“I have previous experience in journalism and have enjoyed my work as a journalist,” he said.

Farzana said writing political stories was always very interesting.

“Hopefully I will join the political arena in the near future. I have learned a lot during my three years in India and I’m looking forward to putting this knowledge to good use,” she said. “I would like to thank my lovely mum, Yasmin Nisha and my father Sheik Ahmed, my uncle Safi Ahmed his wife and two daughters, my aunty in Australia Sadma Begum, my two brothers and friends for all the encouragement love, support and care throughout my life,” Farzana said.


Arieta Vakasukawaqa

Arieta Vakasukawaqa of Vutuna, Nairai, Lomaiviti, also successfully completed her Bachelor of Arts in Politics at Fergusson College.

The eldest of six siblings also did Diploma in International Relations, Human Rights and Role of International Law from Abeda Inamdar Senior College of Arts, Science and Commerce.

“The day when I graduated was one of the greatest and most special days of my life,” Arieta said.

“When I sit back and think of the struggles and how sometimes I had to find ways to survive because of allowance coming late, it just brought tears to my eyes,” she said.

Arieta said her hard work had paid off.

“I have made India my home; at first life was quite tough for me personally because it was a whole different environment altogether.

“I used to tell myself that in order to achieve my goal for the three years I will need to adapt to the lifestyle in India and this has changed the way I see things,” she said.

“The academic experience in India was tough because it was different from the University life back in Fiji.

“The lecturers were very strict and the level of competition was something that kept me on the move,” Arieta said.

“If you fall, no one will help you up so the onus was on you.

“Sometimes lecturers spoke in their native language (Marathi and Hindi) which was hard for me to understand but I had friends who helped me when I needed assistance,” she added.

Arieta said despite all the ups and down in life she would be forever grateful for this opportunity.

“I want to give thanks to the Lord for with Him, I am able to conquer all and achieve my purpose in India; that is to complete my studies,” she said.

“I also want to thank my parents and siblings for their motivation and never-ending support,” she added.

“My upbringing has always been my motivation, the struggles my parents had to ensure in order to put us all in school and provide for us; I owe them my success,” she added with great emotion.

She also thanked her relatives and friends who have lent a helping hand in any way during her times of need.

“And a special thanks to Indian Cultural Centre for Relations (ICCR) and Fiji Government for this scholarship,” Miss Vakasukawaqa said.

“My advice to young people is that one of the ingredients of success is to put GOD first in everything you do, honor your parents and work hard towards success without giving up.”


Shratika Shivanandani Naidu

Last, I, Shratika Shivanandani Naidu, 27, of Labasa, graduated with Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Diploma in International Relations, Human Rights and Role of International Law along with Farazana and Arieta in Pune.

Life in India over the three years has changed my perspective as a feminist and as a believer in Christ.

I have realised that life on this earth comes only once and we should make the best use of it.

Be it for oneself, helping family members or encouraging friends to chase after their dreams.

I am very thankful to God for blessing me with loving parents, supportive siblings, relatives, friends and FijiSun workmates who have always encouraged me through phone calls and social media to accomplish my purpose of stay in India.

Despite being faced with so many health problems and challenges, I am full of gratitude because life in India has laid the foundation of my career.

Thank you ICCR and Fiji government for awarding me this scholarship.

I would like to encourage youngsters in Fiji to choose to be educated and make a good career.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.




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