A GROWING number of volunteer students that visit the country maintain relationships with families they were billeted with.
Volunteer Eco-Students Abroad (VESA), a premier student volunteer organiser, said out of the 700 university students that took volunteer programs at villages in the western and eastern divisions over the past three years, about 350 maintained ties with host families.
"This is an amazing statistic when you consider the fact that the students spend one week with their hosts while undertaking water and compost projects in the village community and teaching English at the village school," said VESA's director of International Programs, Shona Luciano-McDowell.
She said Fiji was the only program where students were allowed to live with host families.
She added VESA's programs in Africa and the Amazon did not allow students to live in the communities they worked in.
Ms McDowell revealed that volunteers often returned as tourists with their families.
"Quite a number of student volunteers often choose to extend their stay in Fiji while others return as tourists at a later date bringing their parents and other members of their family," she said.