YOU could easily mistake Arvina Kumar for a high school student but as petite and timid as she looks at first glance, the real surprise is when she begins to open up about life on rural Yadua Island, off Bua in the Northern Division.
She's quite the chatterbox when asked about her experience as a young teacher at Yadua Village School.
Being the only Fijian of Indian descent on the island, Arvina says teaching was not her first choice but eventually she grew to love the profession.
The eldest of three siblings from Wainikoro in Labasa, Arvina grew up in a sugarcane farming community and wanted to be a nurse.
"Eventually after Form Seven, I went into teaching. I love it because I know being a teacher at an island school allows me to help students who are not as privileged as other urban school students," she said.
"I get to help them understand the world around us, the importance of education on their future and the benefits of having a good education.
"This is a place I feel I am most needed and because it's my first posting, I want to make every minute being here count."
Arvina, who attended Navoalevu Primary and later Nadogo Secondary, joined then Lautoka Teachers College after Form Seven. She completed a Diploma in Primary Education and received word of her posting to Yadua two years ago.
She was given a two-bedroom housing quarters and three classes to teach - all in one room.
"It's not easy. At teacher training school, we're given options to specialise in one or two streams but when I was posted to Yadua, lack of teachers meant taking on another stream," she said.
"So I'm teaching Classes Six to Eight. It's not easy even though I have only eight students in total to teach. In a day, I have to divide my work between three classes which means, for one segment of the day, I focus entirely on teaching Class Six syllabus.
"I'd give them some work to do then spend the next segment teaching Class Seven or Class Eight syllabus. My mind is always focused and tuned to the workload.
"It's really challenging especially when your job is to make sure your students do well academically. Whenever I teach a class, all my attention is given to them - I don't stop halfway and turn my attention to Class Seven or Eight students. You have to really pay attention to the needs of the students."
When she's not marking exam papers or jotting notes in her day-planner, Arvina says it's gardening or playing sports with the youths on the island.
The social bunny says living the independent life away from home had its ups and downs but she had no qualms about missing home.
"I did miss home at first but after three months, my work kept me busy. I'd go home every three months or so but I'm enjoying this life because growing up, I never helped out in the farm," she said.
"I just stayed at home, learnt to cook and clean.
"My mother did the rest. Living on my own is different. I have to look after myself, do my own laundry, gardening and cooking.
"I plant a variety of vegetables like cabbage, bean, eggplant and pumpkin. When it's Diwali, my parents normally send over sweets and I share these with the people down in the village.
"Our quarters are up on the hill overlooking the village. When I have a lot of time on my hands, I sometimes go down to the village to play volleyball or join the community during special functions.
"Socialising is not a problem for me and I'm used to blending in with the community.
"Another hobby I enjoy on the island is baking and sports. Even though we don't have proper water supply like constant water supply from taps, this challenging life is a learning phase in my life."
Her parents might not have approved of her posting but Arvina says her newfound passion has taught her to value the importance of education and selflessness.
She says people should grab similar opportunities with both hands because the challenges are what contributed to the positive growth and character building of a young person.