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Fiji Time: 10:37 PM on Friday 18 April

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US university students spend week in village

Serafina Silaitoga
Sunday, January 12, 2014

EIGHTEEN students from an American university are in Naboutini Village, in the district of Saqani, Cakaudrove Province immersing themselves in the iTaukei way of life.

The students, during their week-long stay, have learnt to prepare a lovo, weave mats, speak some of the Saqani dialect, scrape coconuts, mix yaqona and go fishing.

Led by John Lawler, the students of Fresno State University have spent a week in Naboutini where they have also been taught iTaukei lyrics by the famous Drodrolagi kei Nautosolo group.

Mr Lawler, who owns Madventurer, which organises the annual visit to the village, said the students had enjoyed every minute of living with the local community.

"It is an opportunity for us to learn more about the iTaukei way of living and that is the main purpose of our visit," Mr Lawler said yesterday.

"This is also my first time to the village and I love it here. I love the people and their hospitality and I think that is so unique about the iTaukei people.

"I have travelled the world to do the same type of work taking groups to different communities but Fiji is just so beautiful."

Mr Lawler said his team admired the happiness of the villagers, who seemed to be constantly happy about life.

"We want to be like that and such a lifestyle challenges us a lot. How can we remain calm, positive and happy despite life's challenges?

"We have been coming to Naboutini since 2011 and we have never regretted our decision to use this village as our network of learning the iTaukei lifestyle in Fiji."

The students return to the US this week.