Saturday, July 30, 2011

team 122

We have just said aere ra (farewell) to the 122nd team that has provided service in the Cook Islands. The team were absolutely amazing in their philosophy of service and how much time and energy they graciously gave to their projects. During their time in Rarotonga they helped teach reading, science, maths, did physiotherapy in the community and at the creative centre, some construction work, rehabilitation work with stroke patients, got down and dirty at the Whale Research Centre, made book shelves, spent time entertaining some of the old Mamas and Papas, and generally helped out with anything and everything they were asked to help with. We can not thank you enough! Kia manuia e meitaki maata James and Debi

'Na'au te rourou, naku te rourou, ka ora te ititangata'
(With your basket, and my basket, the nation will prosper)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spotlight on Country Manager James

Our delightful program on Rarotonga is guided by Country Managers Debi and James. Our February 2011 volunteer team was led by James, and we are eager to share his evaluation comments with you today! It is clear that our Country Managers are successful in making the most of the volunteer experience for all Global Volunteers and that they also make team members feel truly welcome in their community!

Bravo to our Cook Islands team, and please enjoy reading a few of James' most recent evaluations:

James is very well organized, easy to talk to and makes your time in the Cook Islands extremely comfortable. Even when we were awakened at 4 a.m. with a tsunami warning I know that James would give us all the direction we needed to stay safe. It was wonderful to work with James again and look forward to seeing him again.

Sensitive to the needs of others; calm; good problem solver; nice.

James was an amazing team leader! He’s reassuring and makes you feel instantly at home. He works with you to ensure a meaningful experience. He really went out of his way to make sure we were comfortable and happy. I loved working with him and hope to return!! Thank you!

James is a HUGE asset to this program. He is welcoming, helpful and very friendly. A fantastic team leader!

James is a very kind man. He seems genuinely concerned about each team members experience.

We hope to hear from you soon and introduce you to the beautiful people of Rarotonga! Please do be in touch.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Recommend the Cook Islands

I recently returned from Global Volunteers’ Cook Islands Service Program and want to ask you to consider joining a team in the near future. It’s a personally rewarding volunteer opportunity to use your skills in a way and with people who truly need your help.

My husband, Joe, and I assisted school children with their reading skills, an area that is greatly under-resourced on Rarotonga. The students were attentive, friendly and very grateful for our service. Joe also worked on natural resource preservation, and I assisted at the local historical society library. All of the work projects were of genuine importance to the local people. Our local team leaders were wonderful support and answered all our program and cultural questions. Sharing experiences every morning at our breakfast meeting was extremely helpful. It is not necessary to be a teacher to help in the schools. Or, as one volunteer wrote in our team journal: “Students do not care how much you know, but how much you care.”

After the work day and on weekends, we had plenty of free time to enjoy the many natural and cultural attractions of the islands… swimming, snorkeling, hiking in the beautiful island interior, and attending dance and music performances. The time went by too fast! Please take a moment to read our story in the April issue of International Travel News at this link:
-Nancy and Joe Logan, China and Cook Islands Volunteers

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

World Book Encyclopedia Donation Arrives on Rarotonga!!

A big thank you to Volunteer Nancy, Global Volunteers' staff & host partners and World Book Encyclopedia for allowing this great donation effort to happen!

Please take a peek at a few photos below of the encyclopedias arriving at a local school and the students diving right into learning!

Here a student takes his first crack at sign language!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Eyeglasses for Island Children

This is Sunday morning at the Kii Kii Motel in the beautiful Cook Islands. I'm sitting on a landing coming down the steps from my motel room. I discovered this is the best place to sit to use the internet. I'm in the shade, have a lovely ocean breeze, look out at the mountain that is the center of the island, and line up perfectly with the wifi signal from the motel office.

Sunday mornings are usually a lazy time here. All the locals are in church and no shops are open. But surprisingly, I got a phone call. It was from the mom of one little girl whose eyesight I tested. I had sent the girl home with a note from me (printed on school letterhead to make it look more official). My note to her parents said that based on my testing, the girl might need glasses. Then I gave them information on the steps they needed to take to get glasses at no cost. The reason the mom called me is that the girl already has glasses. The mom had no idea her daughter wasn't wearing them at school.

On an island where very few people wear glases, there is a stigma attached to being the odd one who doesn't have perfect vision. My guess is the little girl will be wearing them in the future. While talking about the little girl, her mom asked about getting glasses for her son. He attends a high school where we have not yet done the screening. He has told his mom that his vision is blurry. and she wondered if he was eligible for our eye glass program. I assured her that he was. She is going to make an appointment with the eye doctor to get a prescription and then order glasses from us.

I got my local Lions' Club to make a donation of $1,000 in 2010 to buy glasses for the kids here, and made a web page on Global Volunteers' site to ask my friends for matching donations. I raised about $3,000 there to buy glasses I brought with me for the students. The children and their parents are very grateful!
- Susan Koralik,Cook Islands volunteer

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Volunteer Connection Provides Eyeglasses

Four-time Global Volunteer Susan Koralik and the Lion’s Club of Park Ridge, Illinois have brought the gift of clearer vision to some fortunate Rarotonga students.

Koralik, who is serving with the current Cook Islands team, is continuing a collaborative effort with local eye nurse specialist Doris Fonorito to screen students at Takitumu, Rutaki, Imanuela Akatemia, St Joseph’s and Te Uki Ou schools on the island.

Last time Koralik served on Rorotonga, she and Fonorito screened 638 students. Those who followed up to obtain eyeglass prescriptions were then eligible to obtain prescription glasses through Koralik's hometown Lion's Club. The Chicago Club shipped eight pairs to Rarotonga.

While she is not an optometrist, Koralik has been trained in vision screening, and brings vision charts – bearing letters and, for kids who can’t yet read, symbols – when she comes to Rarotonga. This year she also brought sample frames so that vision-impaired kids can choose their own frame style. Over the next four weeks Koralik will assist local optometrist Teariki Faireka to screen more students. We look forward to new reports on this very needed project!
-Excerpted from the Cook Islands NEWS

Friday, February 18, 2011

Consider volunteering on Rarotonga in 2011!

If you're considering volunteering 2011, why not consider the Pacific Island of Rarotonga, the largest island of the Cook Islands?

If volunteering in a warm, mild climate is for you then read on! Below you will find volunteer reflections from a 2010 volunteer. Don't be shy... Join Us!!!

As our first week on the Cook Islands comes to a close, we have all had many thoughts and feelings towards our experience so far.

Candy has felt very satisfied from all of the new books she has put on libraries’ shelves for people to enjoy. She was also surprised by how she felt a sense of belonging after only a few days on the island. Ellen felt awed by the beauty of the island. Jennifer felt nervous when she first started at a school, but if the number of books she and Candy catalogued is any indication of how she feels now, I think it is safe to say she feels quite at home in the libraries!

Chason has realized his perspective of everything has greatly broadened on this trip; and he is glad to experience a new culture. Rob felt flustered on his first day at St. Joseph’s but despite this first day, he was also touched by the affection given by the 2nd graders he worked with. Siu felt very excited for her first day at school. She also felt inspired by Debi’s ability to take care of us with good humor and good grace.

As for me, I felt a little out of place on my first day at school because I am so used to being the student, not teacher. However, I was pleased at how soon that faded because of all of the welcoming and friendly hellos and waves.
Although there was a variety of feelings they will make our experience more interesting and memorable.

Written by ~ Volunteer Sofia

Call (800) 487 - 1074 to become a Global Volunteer!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Reflections from a Cook Islands Volunteer

"I find myself thinking of how we will look back on our time on Rarotonga. The warmth of the people and the climate, and the beauty of the island are unforgettable. Our work with the various community partners, James and Debi, our teammates of Vaka 117 and some of our shared activities will probably also stick with us.

And how could we forget the mores of the Cook Islanders? But will we remember the things that made the fabric of our day-to-day lives? Like the deceptively simple-sounding bus system with its hourly clockwise and anti-clockwise schedule that many of us university-graduates are still struggling to grasp… or the regular visits to the Telecom office to maintain at least minimal contact with our lives at home… The endless variety of deep-fried items available with shakes (thickness optional) at take-aways… Beachcombing and snorkeling in deliciously-warm water... The tattoo on a hollow-log drum that signals the start and finish of school day activities, and hundreds of kids’ bare feet… Kia Oranas and Meitakis… Helmetless people riding scooters, accompanied by their untethered kids, pets, friends and/or groceries...

Saturday morning market visits where we strolled, surrounded by a riot of colorful sarongs, jewelry, and tropical fruits and vegetables; sounds of Maori and English talk and music; and the scents of foods, flowers, and perfumes extracted from island flora. We developed new ways of relating to fruit as we picked bananas off of our own giant bunch, and learned to eat oranges island-style from the inside out.

These represent some of the strands of my memories. I know we’ve each had our own unique experiences to remember, so whatever yours may be, I hope they weave a fabric that recalls an enjoyable and meaningful time in your life."

Rachael Bertone, 2010 Cook Islands Volunteer