WHEN Andrea Thalari was selected to be part of a group of youths that will represent Fiji in India under the Indian government's Know India Program, she was perhaps the happiest one of all.
Andrea will be, for the first time, able to visit her ancestral home, the country where her great grandfather came from.
"To me, it's like marking the 100-year anniversary when my great grandfather came to Fiji and I am so looking forward to go back to my ancestral land," she says.
"After 100 years, his great granddaughter is taking that trip back to India."
Andrea's grandfather, Thalari John first came to Fiji in 1912 as a Christian catechist and settled in the Western Division.
Mr Thalari John came to Fiji to be part of the Methodist Church in Fiji's Indian division and was also a teacher.
According to records, Mr Thalari John started a church in Ba before he moved down to Sigatoka to become the first headteacher of Sigatoka Methodist School.
Andrea says her family managed to trace their lineage back to the state of Andra Pradesh in the region of Eluru.
"My family has been corresponding with his side of the family back in India for some time now," she says.
Andrea was even surprised to read about her grandfather in some history literature after she came across her maternal great grandfather's name in literature books she's studying.
"In fact I still have some his documents at home and all his journals too. Some of them have to undergo restoration and I hope that I will take it to Australia one day to get it done there," Andrea says.
But the sentimental value of the trip to India is not lost for this young girl.
For her and her family, she will be the first to go back to India ever since her great grandfather's arrival. Andrea is pursuing a degree in history and she considers the trip timely because she is now studying the British Empire.
"India to the empire was like the crown jewel and now after reading so much about it, I have the chance to finally be part of this journey to travel there and experience the place and culture," Andrea says.
Even though she would not be visiting her ancestral home in Eluru, Andrea and six others will visit the state of Goa, which is on the western coast of the subcontinent.
The Know India Program runs three times a year and Fiji had the record number of applicants this year, getting approval for 10 candidates to make the trip from 10 applications.
Run by the Indian government's Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, the program has taken many youths from Fiji on a cultural visit and tour of various states in India.
It allows countries where people of Indian origin are citizens to send young people to India on a three-month cultural visit.
Youths from Fiji will be joined by youths from 11 other countries and they will be travelling together during their visit.
She is expected to leave later this month.