When you think about travelling, does the thrill of exploring somewhere new come to mind? Or does revisiting a country that has a special place in your heart sound appealing? Although both sounds good to me, there’s something magical about standing in a spot you’ve stood before, feeling the rush of memories. Maybe you want to go back to a place you’ve volunteered at, relive a thrilling experience, or complete your unfinished bucket list. Whatever the reason, revisiting a country is a trip that you will never forget!
A once-in-a-lifetime voluntourism trip
I was lucky to go back to WavuWavu, Fiji; a small village on the island of Vanua Levu, just outside of Labassa. I originally visited in 2011, with a high school volunteer program called Global Perspectives. Each year, grade 12 students go to a different country to build something that the village needs. In my year, we built a community centre/storm shelter.
Revisiting WavuWavu—a warm welcome
The people we met and the experiences we had were once in a life time, but lucky for me I was able to go back 3 years later for a Global Perspectives volunteer grad trip.
Going back to Fiji was a last minute decision for me. Travelling is expensive, especially as a student, and when you’re spending that much money, you generally want to go somewhere new. After thinking about it though, I realized that I probably would never get another chance to go back to WavuWavu, so this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Before I knew it, I was welcomed back into the village by the lovely faces I thought I’d left behind forever.
During the second trip, we built a covered walkway at the local elementary school. We’d visited the school in 2011, so walking around it 3 years later brought back memories. Seeing the inspirational signs throughout the school grounds and having tea and crackers during breaks was all pleasantly overwhelming. The best part though? Seeing the kids we’d come to know and love all grown up! A couple of them even remembered us from last time!
Old friends make a trip unforgettable
If you’re lucky enough to get to know the locals on your original trip, then getting to see them again is the best part of travelling back to a country. Two people that are especially important to me are Vijay and Chope. On both trips, they helped out in every possible way, taking us in as family. On the second trip, Vijay even said he thinks about us every night and hopes that we’re okay. It’s people like him that make a trip an unforgettable one.
During our visit, we stayed in the community centre that we’d built on our previous trip. I didn’t only help build it with my own hands, but I was now using it on a daily basis. Seeing how well it was holding up and knowing it was well used was very rewarding.
Other than reconnecting with the people, one of my favourite things was re-experiencing a hike. Vijay led us on this same hike in 2011, but this time his adorable grandson accompanied us, telling stories all the way. The view of the village from this hike was breathtaking the first time, but experiencing it again cemented how much I love WavuWavu.
Whether you’re reliving an experience or exploring a new place in a country that you’ve never visited before, travelling back to a country will be an unforgettable experience. It’s a constant memory déjà vu while still being completely its own trip. Now that I’ve been to Fiji twice, some people might think I can cross it off my bucket list. But the truth is it will forever remain ON my bucket list. I hope to go back and explore more of what Fiji has to offer one day and maybe even do another volunteer project! So what do you think? Can you ever really cross a place off your bucket list?
Does revisiting a volunteer site seem like an adventure you’d like to do? Leave us a comment with your thoughts or tweet us at @tugoinsurance!