I WAS taken aback when I met this accountant in a tiny Fijian village on the fringes of the Sigatoka Valley. Practically in the middle of nowhere, David Crowley is a Peace Corps volunteer at Nakabuta Village in Nadroga.
The villagers of Nakabuta have given him the local equivalent of his name, which is 'Tevita' and he has generally settled in well with the village and surroundings.
The 47-year-old Baltimore native is a Certified Public Accountant, having attained this prestigious accounting title working with many non-governmental organisations in the United States capital of Washington DC.
These NGOs work towards the preservation of the world's environments and trying to solve the world's social and economic problems.
Tevita offers financial management support for these NGOs where he helps them monitor, account for and audit funds of many of their overseas missions.
Just late last year, after working for so long with these NGOs, Tevita decided to try and actually live the life of many field workers, most of whom, he had helped, while working from the comforts of his Washington DC office.
So he enrolled into the Peace Corps volunteer program with the help of some of his friends.
"Some friends of mine who had done Peace Corps years ago told me to go overseas and see what it's like and the Peace Corps gives you the experience to work with the communities.
"I really wanted a new challenge and wanted the experience of living in an entirely different place. I wanted to see if I can use my skill and experience in an overseas environment," Tevita says.
But it was not as easy as Tevita had thought it would be.
"It's difficult being away from home and anything familiar. I have come to know that you just have to open yourself up to new things and it will make things easier and a pleasant experience," Tevita says.
When he came to Fiji last year, he was trained in the Bauan dialect and he got the shock of his life after he was transferred to Nadroga where they had a different dialect.
"It's tough. I think I am coming to grips with the language problem and yes, the first word I learnt was vahewa (Nadroga for little)," Tevita says with a grin.
Sure he has to learn that word first because it was the most polite word you can ask someone if you don't want to drink that much grog.
Apart from that, Tevita has to learn about rugby, especially being in a rugby mad province and he has already watched the champion Nadroga team in action.
"It's the first time for me to see rugby being played live, other times I would just watch it on TV and comparing it to American football, there are a lot of stop start in American football with strategic plays but rugby is more fast paced," Tevita says.
Settling in at Nakabuta Village which has limited natural resources and with close proximity to Sigatoka Town, and also because of Tevita's limited experience in field work, he has a challenge on his hands.
Not to be deterred, Tevita has helped the villagers attend many capacity building workshops, which he says can be used in the village's development projects.
"Being in a village gives me the opportunity to work at grassroots level.
"It helps me to work with villagers to establish networks, help villagers develop income-generating activities and how to use current resources like land, pottery-making business and also to identify new ways to earn a living," Tevita says.
He had already sent some Nakabuta villagers for capacity building training with the hope that such knowledge would be applied in whatever development projects the villagers are planning to undertake.
Just recently, the village completed a village footpath project and have identified other projects that will be taking place soon.
As for Tevita, he hopes his experience at Nakabuta will help him become involved in more NGO work when he goes back.
And he aims that this time, he hopes to spend more time working in the field rather than from a plush and airconditioned office.
"Peace Corps is a two-year assignment and my plan is to go back to the US and try and work for an NGO in the development field, particularly with NGOs on international missions.
"Ideally I want to go and help NGOs with capacity building and finance management," Tevita says.