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'Never meant to be stationary'

Matilda Simmons
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

LISTENING to Viliame Waqalaivi's life story, you get the feeling that he's an adventurer of some sort. He is tenacious and knows what he wants. But having to deal with failure is one of the things he embraces, something he says is essential if one is to improve him or herself.

The training manager of BSP Life (Fiji) Ltd has been through the ups and downs of life but has continued on shouldering the responsibilities he has.

Apart from his work at BSP, the Nakorolevu, Namara, Tailevu native is studying part-time to finish his law degree. Prior to this he was a schoolteacher, a step in the right direction in the journey that has moulded his career.

"I failed my first attempt of the New Zealand University Entrance Examination," he said.

"That did not deter me particularly after I had made plans with my classmates in 1986 to do Foundation Science (Program at the University of the South Pacific) as we wanted to do medicine back then.

"After my second attempt and after I could get into the Foundation Science Program, I was fortunate that I was referred to the late Professor Epeli Hauofa who assured me that I was going to do well as an arts students even though I had not done geography and history at high school.

"I took up the challenge and here I am many years thankful for that opportunity and to the Fijian Affairs Board for sponsoring me for the three years that I spent at USP."

The eldest of four children, Viliame grew up mostly in Flagstaff, Suva before moving to Nasinu.

He studied and graduated to be a high schoolteacher. He spent nine and a half years in the teaching field before he decided to make a change.

"My parents were not very well schooled but they knew the value of a good education and gave their all when supporting us to do well in school," he said.

"I was a high school orator and won the Nasinu Jaycees oratory competition before I represented Nasinu at the Jaycees finale that was won by Phyllis Hotchin of Labasa. Also placed at the competition were Sunoor Verma of Suva Grammar School and Margaret Wise of Navua.

"I later went to USP with Margaret and Phyllis and have been friends since. I was a regular competitor at talent quests that were run by Radio Fiji back then. I sang at one of the heats where I came second to Brat Whiteside. I sang Stuck on you at that competition," he said smiling.

"There was no television then so we had to tune into to Radio Fiji 1 to listen to the singers for each of these hits.

"I have visited many countries mostly in Asia; Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Mongolia, Thailand, Japan, India and Pakistan.

"I was an exchange student to the University of Papua New Guinea and I can speak Tok Pisin," he added proudly.

"I thank my parents, the late Sailosi Seru Waqalaivi and mother, Mereoni Ravouvou for instilling a sense of achievement, to go out into the world and be the best that I can be. It is unfortunate that they are not here anymore."

For now the 48-year-old soldiers on with what life offers him.

From a schoolteacher to trainer and now part-time law student, Viliame is certain about where he wants in life.

"Life is not meant to be stationary, you have to go out and explore the world," he said.

"My youngest sister, Maliana, was a LLB student when she passed away so I am doing this for her as well."

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