Love for his new place

Blake Covington with students of Navala Catholic School. Picture: SITERI SAUVAKACOLO

FROM the bright lights of North Carolina in the US to the not so bright regions of Navala Village in the highlands of Ba, Blake Covington is a perfect example of a volunteer who is keen to learn, conquer and achieve.

The outspoken 23-year-old was recently spotted at Navala Village neatly dressed in his green Ministry of Education uniform as he joined students of Navala Catholic School to the village green to watch items performed by the Yellow Bird Indian Dancers, a group of Native American dancers who had visited the village on a cultural exchange program.

The bold looks on the American Peace Corp volunteer’s face could certainly depict his love for his new place which has been home to him for the past couple of months.

With a smile, he shared how he first struggled having to adjust to the environment, people and the food.

However, things got much better for the young man through the endless assistance of the villagers ever since he first arrived in the village.

“I struggled when I first arrived especially with the language as I had to learn the Bauan dialect first and then adapt to the Navala dialect,” Blake said.

“As time passed, I just fell in love with the place and the people and life has been interesting all along especially spending time with students in school.”

Blake said life in Navala Village was quieter and there was no distraction from technology or cellphones, adding that life was very simple. The real meaning of family, he said, really existed in Navala Village as everything was so communal and it was something he loved.

“I have been really close with these villagers and I loved it so much because they make me feel at home. “I do not have to miss home a bit and I love every moment with the students daily. “Although I live alone in my own school quarters, I get to visit them when I have time to do so just to pass time and enjoy life.”

Although he has only been at Navala Village for a few months, Blake is already adapting himself to the Navala dialect and the most famous one he is familiar with is somi (drinking) yaqona. And drinking yaqona with his fellow Navala villagers is something he enjoys on weekends.

Blake plans to spend Christmas with his family in North Carolina before returning to Navala Village for the rest of the duration of his stay in Fiji.

He, however, already has his plans fixed on returning in the future to visit the village which will be his home for two years.

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