Caption: Erik Larsson hands over a cheque to members of Votualevu Public School. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
By TAGIMEUCIA KOROIVUKI
Eric Larsson (30) from Sweden had completed his volunteer work at Votualevu Public School under the Teaching Project in Fiji.
Eric learnt about Projects Abroad on the internet and was immediately interested.
“I was taking some time off work and I wanted to do something meaningful with my time so I checked on google where I came across Projects Abroad which looked quite good,” he shared.
“Then I saw that they had Fiji as a destination and I always wanted to go to Fiji so I applied through the Swedish office,” he added.
Eric believes there’s an important need for more volunteers.
“There is a big need for volunteers because there are many students and not enough teachers,” he enthused.
“I’m focusing now on grade 7 and there are 104 kids and just two teachers which is a handful. The more volunteers the more we can assist better and make a difference,” he added.
Everyday activities for Eric would include the following.
“I actually teach three classes, two in English and one in math. In the English classes I teach about Sweden in English.
“I also assist with the children who have a lot of questions but are not attended to because the teachers do not have time to go to everybody. I also mark papers and help out with Sports activities.”
Eric explains how offering help is an important aspect of volunteering.
“My first week was a bit different because I didn’t know what to do and so did they, it took me a couple of weeks to find my place and get really into the volunteer work,” he remarked.
“It’s usually clear what areas they need help in although the teachers don’t usually ask for help, I guess as a volunteer you must always take the first step and offer to help,” he added.
A soccer tournament was organized by Eric and his volunteer friend Stephan for the children of Votualevu Public School.
“We actually started a soccer tournament for grade seven and eight which attracted about 160 kids who just love the sport,” he enthused.
“The children kept asking me during recess about how their team is doing in the competition as it was a big tournament for them, so they took it quite seriously,” he added.
Putting volunteers there is the most important thing actually. I’m the first volunteer at that particular project and they need time to get used to having volunteers.
Back in Sweden, Eric is a Sales Manager and a part-owner of a company however his experiences in Fiji have contributed much to his personal life.
“I didn’t know a lot about Fiji, six weeks ago I thought Fij,i yeah nice Island, nice resort, good weather and that was about it,” he opined.
“Now I know how the school works and how everybody is so friendly and it’s really amazing and you just grow from the experience. The entire experience of being a part of this, contributes a lot to my personal life,” he added.
If there’s one thing Eric would take back with him to Sweden that would be “all the beautiful smiles I receive every day from the students, the people and everyone in Fiji,” he shared.
“It’s just amazing when I turn up in class every morning and I see the children greeting me with smiles,” Eric remarked.
“Even the people are so easy to talk with and you’re caught up in a conversation with a total stranger so easily which is uncommon from where I come from,” he concluded.