Anyone who’s experienced the Cook Islands knows that the crystal-blue waters and beaches are simply off the charts. Global Volunteer Jedd Wasson enjoyed teaching at Apii Avarua primary school on Rarotonga by day, and captured these stunning drone photos of the island during his free time. He said combining his love of travel and photography with volunteering was more than he had expected:
“My service program with Global Volunteers to the Cook Islands was incredible. I worked at a local school close to our hotel, and walked or rode the island bus to my assignment. The school is right alongside the beach, and the views are spectacular.”
Jedd worked with the 5th grade classroom teacher, providing individual attention to students who needed extra help. He said by working with them each day, and playing soccer during recess, he got to know the students personally. By the end of the two weeks, he had formed several good relationships. The warmth and friendliness of the children, teachers and “average” people on the street quickly made him feel at home. At the end of the school day, he’d swim, snorkel and explore the island with his drone!
The Relaxed Pace Suited the Team
No one rushes in the Cook Islands. The Polynesian culture is calm and hospitable. Life is to be savored, Cook Islanders believe. Work and recreation is enjoyed in equal measure. Volunteers learn quickly to slow their pace, breathe deeply and allow the natural rhythm of the island to direct them.
“The lifestyle of the Cook Islands was incredibly relaxed, which I fell in love with. It was so nice to escape the hustle of the cities here in the US. After volunteering at the school during the day, I would catch a bus to a beach somewhere on the island.”
Jedd’s teammates had tutoring assignments at other schools nearby, and joined him in some of his island journeys at the end of the day. The road that circles the whole island, the Ara Tapu, is only 32 kms long. A drive or bus ride is an easy 45-50 minutes! Rarotonga is made up of districts containing several villages located mainly on the coastal fringe of the island. The vast sandy beaches are always in view.
“Because the island is small, (20 miles around) I was able to see and experience much of it. I did a cross-island hike with a fellow volunteer one weekend, went to an “island night” dance performance, and we also took a day trip to an outer island, Aitutaki.”
“Aitutaki was a true paradise on earth. It was by far the most remote and beautiful place I’ve ever been. The lagoon there is considered one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to witness it.”
Join a Global Volunteers Service Program in the Cook Islands
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