Fiji Term Abroad
Anthropology Term Abroad in Fiji - Fall term even years
Faculty Organizer: Karen Brison (Anthropology);
In Fall of even numbered years the anthropology term abroad is held in Fiji, an island nation in the South Pacific. The term is open to students of all majors. The term will introduce students to the process of doing anthropological research, and the cultures of Pacific Islands, as well as giving students hands-on experience in local organizations such as schools, NGOs and businesses. Students will get three anthropology credits in Fiji, all of which carry WAC credit: ANT 185T (Peoples of the Pacific); ANT 255T (Culture and Work); ANT 490T (Independent Study in Anthropology).
Students will be immersed in the local culture. The bulk of the term will be spent on hands- on 'ethnographic' research. Anthropologists feel that it is important to live with members of another culture and to be actively involved in their day-to-day life. To truly understand how people see the world, you must 'walk in their shoes,' ideally through participating in a venture of common interest together. Students will learn this method both through living with a Fijian family and through working several hours a week with a local organization to gain a thorough appreciation of the social and cultural forces that shape everyday life in Fiji.
After an initial orientation week, students will be placed with individual host families spread throughout the capital city of Suva. Students will meet together and with Prof. Brison two days a week for an organized fieldtrip and to hold classes and discuss readings on Fiji and on organizational culture. Students will also do internships for 10-12 hours a week at a local organization such as a school, a business, or an NGO. Students will do readings about the work of schools and other organizations in societies and about the culture of organizations. Students will carry out structured exercises every week designed to help them understand local culture and local organizations, and will design one longer project of their own choosing in the second half of the term. These longer projects may involve collaborating with local community college students to research a specific topic such as traditional methods of preserving the environment in Fiji, and may culminate in displays in local museums or proposals for curricular units in local schools. Internships will be organized to meet the interests of individual students.
Information on Fiji
Fiji is a former British colony that attained independence in 1970. The country consists of a group of 320 islands located east of Australia. There are two main ethnic groups in Fiji in a population of just over 700,000: indigenous Fijians and descendants of Indian indentured servants brought in by the British in the 19th century. About 60% of Fijians live in rural villages in a largely subsistence-based economy where kin connections and communal obligations are very important. Fiji thus offers relatively good living conditions while giving students exposure to a very different culture and way of life. Students would gain first hand experience of the problems of a developing country. Experience in a Pacific society is also important given a growing emphasis on Pacific relations in US business and education.
Fiji is an ideal site for a field oriented term abroad since most of the population speaks English (the official language of the country), medical and other facilities are good, and the country is free of major tropical diseases like malaria. The South Pacific Handbook, a popular guide for tourists, says "Fiji's climate is a healthy one, and the main causes of death are non communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer...the tap water is Fiji is usually drinkable except immediately after a cyclone or during droughts. Health care is good, with an abundance of hospitals, health centers and nursing stations scattered around the country."
Fiji Interactive Web Site
Fiji Photo Gallery From Fiji Term Abroad