volunteer team in the Cook IslandsCarol, Fran, Joyce, Trudy, Peter, Kristie, Yuri and Barbara – Rarotonga here we come! 6:30am we arrived after a 10 hour flight from LAX. After squeezing into the van with James and Debi and 10, 000 pounds of luggage (which helped to quickly develop camaraderie), off to meet our Kiwi team member, Yolanda, for an early morning orientation meeting at the Kiikii. After giving us beautiful ‘ei’s’ and a welcome to the Island, James and Debi engaged us all in discussing our goals, program sustainability, insights into the Cook Islands culture as well as practical info about the island and program logistics. Around 11 am we took a break to unpack, do errands, and generally rest.

My son Yuri and I visited St Josephs where I was a volunteer last year. We were enthusiastically welcomed with hugs and of course food in typical Cook Islands manner. The mid day weather is warm and inviting and Rarotonga is crowded with tourists. But our journey here is different from many other people. Our interest includes appreciating the physical beauty and having fun, but our goals also include meeting new friends and seeing old ones, making useful contributions to this community, learning and growing and to fully immerse ourselves in this experience as discussed in our early morning meeting. We reconvened as a group at 4.00 and discussed other things, effective team characteristics, which include: respect, communication, shared goals, individuality and flexibility. These formulate the structure and provide the lenses through which we understand our experiences. Our meeting was concluded with a wonderfully cooked local meal.
– Barbara
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