|Dates:||September 15 – December 13|
February 13 – May 12, 2019
*Airfare for international and in-country flights additional
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- Teach English in a Fijian Primary School While Living in a Traditional Bure
- Become SCUBA Certified Off Fiji’s Beqa Island
- Track Orangutans While Working Alongside a Local NGO in Sumatra
- Build and Install Clean Water Wells for Local Families in East Bali
- Surf the Famous Waves of Bali’s Bukit Peninsula
- Study a Successful Small Business/Village Partnership in East Bali
- Shadow Nurses in Health Centers on One of Fiji’s Most Remote Islands
- Raft Through the Rainforest and Cool Off in Waterfalls in Sumatra’s Bukit Lawang
- Learn About Island Life and Rice Farming Through a Sumatran Homestay at Lake Toba
Journey to the far reaches of the Pacific Ocean where we immerse ourselves in the island lifestyles of Fiji, Sumatra & Bali. Settle into a Fijian bure where we are welcomed by the local village chief. Gain insight into primary education while delivering lessons to eager Fijian children. Explore health care by visiting nursing stations in one of the most remote islands of Fiji. Become SCUBA certified in the turquoise waters off Beqa Island. Trek deep into the Sumatran rainforest in search of the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan. Build water catchment systems in Bali to help villages survive drought-like conditions between rainy seasons. Study firsthand a Balinese food non-profit and witness how an impoverished village partnered with a small business to great success. Learn to surf on the waves of Bali’s Bukit Peninsula. Reflecting on the lessons learned, experiences had, and the friendships forged, we conclude our semester excited to share all that we’ve experienced!
Gap Orientation in California
We begin our semester with a Gap orientation in San Francisco, California. After a welcoming BBQ with all ARCC Gap programs, we settle into our Pacific Islands group, getting to know one another and our instructors. Together we map out our itinerary and set both individual and group goals for the duration of the program. We introduce our curriculum and brainstorm ideas for our individual Capstone projects, all the while coming together as a traveling community.
Travel to Medan & Indonesian Orientation
We fly together to Medan, Sumatra where we jump into our orientation to Indonesian culture, customs and languages. With more than 261 million people, Indonesia is the world’s 4th most populous country, and is made up of over 17,000 islands. Indonesia is home to hundreds of different ethnic, linguistic and cultural groups; 52 languages spoken in Sumatra alone. For our first few days in Sumatra we learn the basic greetings, cultural forms of respect, and acclimatize to our new time zone and home.
Bukit Lawang, Orangutan Trek & Homestay
Leaving the bustle of Medan behind we travel into Sumatra’s interior through endless palm forests to the small village of Bukit Lawang located along the Bohorok River. Bordering Gunung Leuser National Park, this community sprouted in the 1970s with the creation of the orangutan rehabilitation center. During our time here we spend a day tracking the critically endangered orangutan with our local host, rafting down the playful rapids of the Bohorok River, and continuing to form as a traveling community at our eco-lodge home base.
After acclimatizing to our surroundings, we embark on our first homestay of the semester in the neighboring rice farming community. Welcomed by Dharma, our kind host, we settle into the simple stilted homes of our host families and spend the week teaching in the local primary school, helping out in the rice fields, and getting a feel for the rural Sumatran lifestyle. Our last two days in the village we pack smaller bags and make our way to the riverside for two nights of camping in rustic river huts. After learning a lot about the conservation efforts taking place around the critically endangered orangutan we lend a hand by planting trees in the developing buffer zone, created to protect the orangutans from potential poachers.
Orangutan Rehabilitation Center
Leaving Bukit Lawang behind we make our way deeper into the rainforest to Halaban where we volunteer at the orangutan rehabilitation center learning more about the conservation efforts taking place to protect this incredible great ape, found only in Borneo and Sumatra. While in Halaban we also spend a day visiting the palm oil plantation where we learn about the process of producing palm oil, as well as the harmful effects of these plantations. In the past 35 years, Sumatra has lost almost 50% of its tropical rainforest due to intentional burning of native forests to create these plantations.
Lake Toba Homestay
Leaving the rainforest behind, we head south to the crater of Lake Toba, the largest lake in Southeast Asia and one of the deepest in the world. On Lake Toba we have an opportunity to experience another tribe within Sumatra, the Batak people, and spend a week learning about life in two distinct villages, one in the highlands and one along the lake. Alternating between learning to fish and working the fields with the water buffalo, we enjoy the opportunity to see a very different side of Sumatra.
Our final days in Sumatra we spend in a Tuk Tuk at Lake Toba, picking up last minute souvenirs at this tourist hamlet, swimming, and reflecting on our experiences thus far.
East Bali Study
After a short flight to Bali, we make our way to Bali’s Eastern coast where we spend a week learning about the successes and challenges of a local non-profit social enterprise that is working to create income-earning opportunities for poverty-stricken rural communities, provide education, both for the youth and through adult education classes, and teach locals to farm in a sustainable manner. We spend our time in East Bali visiting the local cashew company and learning about how a local project partnered with the village to create enormous success, working on infrastructure projects, ranging from installing clean water systems in the school to hands-on work in the construction of a new building, and exploring our beautiful surroundings.
Ubud Explorations & Student Planned Module
Saying goodbye to our friends in East Bali, we make our way to Ubud, the spiritual center and heart of Bali. Surrounded by terraced rice fields and ancient monuments, we spend the next few days exploring this beautiful city, learning about the various religions practiced here, trying our hand in a Balinese cooking class, and practicing our bargaining skills in the endless markets. Halfway through our semester, we also catch up on sleep and put the final touches on our upcoming Student Planned Module.
For the next four days we head off on our Student Planned Module. These days are totally planned by the students, with basic parameters put in place and a budget with which to work. We can’t wait to hear what the group will do!
Travel to Fiji, Nadi & Beqa Island Village Stay
Leaving Bali behind, we travel by plane to Fiji where we jump right in to our Fijian orientation in the coastal city of Nadi. The basics learned, we make our way along Viti Levu’s Southern coast before taking a short ferry ride to the tropical island of Beqa, where we are welcomed into our first Fijian homestay in a small village surrounded by turquoise waters.
Trekking the Highlands
Leaving the coast behind, we head into Fiji’s highlands where we embark on a 4-day trek through the lush rainforest of this verdant island. Stopping off in bungalows along the way, we soak up our remote surroundings, learn about the natural habitat, and practice outdoor skills like Leave No Trace and navigating by map and compass.
Ferry to Vanua Balavu
Saying goodbye to the mainland, we board an 18-hour ferry into Fiji’s Last Frontier. Traveling through Fiji’s many islands, we soak up the tropical views, then enjoy the sleep-aboard experience in our bunkrooms. At last we reach our destination, the island of Vanua Balavu, one of Fiji’s most remote islands and a part of the Lau island chain. Influenced by the country of Tonga to the east, Vanua Balavu shows us a different side of Fiji, one influenced by Tongan food, language, architecture and decoration.
Vanua Balavu Homestay, Teaching & Public Health
Our first five days on Vanua Balavu we spend in a homestay within a small, welcoming community. We soak up the opportunity to learn about the Lau people, their culture and the history they share with the island country of Tonga. During the days we pair up with a groupmate and jump into the education theme, where we deliver lesson plans on English, sports, nutrition and culture to middle and high school students. In the afternoon and evenings, we settle into the island lifestyle, whether it be joining in games of volleyball, rugby and badminton, exploring our new surroundings, learning local songs, or getting to know our new families.
Our next section on this beautiful island takes us into the Public Health theme where we break into small groups and spend time shadowing nurses in the rural nursing stations. Given that nursing stations in rural parts of Fiji are often manned by one nurse alone, there is ample opportunity to lend a hand to support these hard-working nurses, while simultaneously learning about health care within remote areas of Fiji.
Snorkeling, Kayaking & Ferry to Mainland
Our final days on Vanua Balavu are spent in and around the water, snorkeling spectacular reefs, kayaking into hidden caves, swimming on beautiful white-sand beaches and soaking up endless sunsets. Then, saying goodbye to this island paradise, we once again board the ferry, this time headed back to Viti Levu, Fiji’s “mainland.”
SCUBA Certification & Departure
We round out our time in this beautiful island country by returning to lush Beqa, where we spend five days exploring the incredible array of multi-colored fish and corals populating Beqa’s world-renowned reefs through our PADI dive certification course. Those new to diving will have the chance to earn their Open Water Diver certifications, while experienced divers can earn their Advanced Diver certificates.
During the evenings we take in our final Fijian sunsets, present our Capstone Projects and debrief all that we have learned. As we discuss the passions we have ignited over the past three months and the many friends that we have made, there is no doubt that our experiences over these three months have prepared us for the steps that await us. We savor our last week together, and are excited to return home to share our newly gained insights and knowledge from our myriad experiences in Sumatra, Bali and Fiji.
(All students wishing to SCUBA dive must pass a thorough diving physical and cannot have used an inhaler or suffered from asthma in the past three years. Additionally, students with ADHD who are or have been taking Ritalin, or any of its derivatives, will NOT be permitted to dive. For those who are unable or not wishing to dive, alternative water activities are available.)
*Please note that the order of the countries and of the projects is subject to change depending on your group assignment.