Fiji Chosen Over NZ And Australia

Thanks to our COVID-contained status, American students opt to study here
23 Mar 2021 12:12
Fiji Chosen Over NZ And Australia
From left: Ben Wright,Alden Sawyer and Claudia Santino at the Rustic Pathways Momi Bay on March 22, 2021. Photo: Salote Qalubau

American students have opted to study in Fiji over Australia and New Zealand given our COVID-contained status.

Through Travelwell Fiji, the 24 students and their professor are here under the Verto Education programme.

The travel agency transferred the students here after following strict COVID-19 protocols, including the 14-day mandatory quarantine period and COVID-19 tests.

The anthropology and sociology students have already begun their three-month face-to-face learning.

Travelwell Fiji programme manager Viliame Tui said Fiji was the best option for the students to study.

Australia and New Zealand, he added, were still dealing with COVID-19 community transmission.

“Through Fiji’s COVID-contained status, Verto Education highlighted the resilience of the Fijian people and Government during the pandemic and focus on offering a fair and optimistic vision of Fiji by emphasising local voices from the South Pacific region.

“After careful consideration of the health ramifications and the development of safe entry protocols in partnership with the CRMT (COVID Risk Mitigation Taskforce), Travelwell Fiji and Verto Education chose Fiji as the best option to conduct a full Verto semester,” Mr Tui said.

He said Verto students are one of the very few students in the world to move and study freely.

Travelwell Fiji and Verto Education would cover costs associated with the quarantine protocols.

“Thanks to the support of the Fijian
Government, Travelwell Fiji and Verto Education have developed an efficient and safe way to offer students an international education experience this year.”

Mr Tui said it took them a whole year to plan this trip, together with the Government and all other stakeholders to ensure their safe transfer into Fiji.

“We sent the test results to the Ministry of Health and it was up to the Ministry whether they were approved of flying over to Fiji. It was a whole year process.


Students, professors enjoy Fiji

Alden Sawyer from the University of Vermont said he has been able to find a new home in Fiji.

“You can learn and read about Fiji’s unique culture from America but experiencing it is just a different experience and that is all thanks to the impressive and amazing efforts of making Fiji COVID-contained,” Mr Sawyer said.

“Our teachers and professors incorporate our studies with the culture here in Fiji and how much they are intertwined with the field that we are studying,” he said.

“It seems like everyone has been working together to be obedient to measures that are in place.”

Claudia Santino from the University of Oregon said: “As soon as we stepped out of the plane everyone was excited to see us and that kindness, love and warmth was so infectious here, it really feels like home.”

Verto Education Anthropology Professor Lauri Travis has labelled Fiji’s COVID-19 containment efforts as impressive.

“This is their first year of college and this is an opportunity to delve into different areas they will learn,” she said.

“Rather than studying in the classroom they will be travelling around the country to study the courses that they are currently pursuing.”

The lot are currently in Momi. They will be in the Yasawas next week.




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