REIGNING Miss Hibiscus 2011 and Miss South Pacific Alisi Rabukawaqa decided to drop everything and accompany the Uto Ni Yalo to Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands when she received the offer on Wednesday.
Ms Rabukawaqa had to make a few calls to cancel a number of engagements and get an extension on an assignment from her professor but these were just formalities as the Bua lass had her mind made up.
She was at the University of the South Pacific’s lower campus yesterday getting a feel of the vessel she will be spending the next few weeks on.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever get another opportunity like this. I talked about it with my family and they were supportive of my decision. I’m told the trip will take around two months and that after visiting Vanuatu, we will head to the Solomon Islands for the Pacific Arts Festival,” she said.
Ms Rabukawaqa said while she did not know what to expect, she hoped the trip would provide new insights into her field of study, marine science.
“I also see this trip as a combined revival of the best of Pacific culture and knowledge with modern science and technology.
“The sea has always connected Pacific Islanders, now we’re returning to it with our traditional canoes,” she said.
While Ms Rabukawaqa has never spent time at sea on a canoe, she’s already relishing the thought of spending weeks aboard the Uto Ni Yalo.
“I’m looking forward to it. We’ve been told to pack light, bring clothes that dry fast; in fact we have a kit list and I’m in the process of getting my stuff together,” she said.