South Pacific gap semester:
Fiji, Australia & New Zealand
Environmental Conservation and Leadership
How will you Carpe Diem?
Australia, Fiji, and New Zealand: three island nations, each with a distinct character, culture, and environment. Informed by Indigenous societies, European colonization, and a remote location deep in the heart of the South Pacific, each location provides a unique insight into the complexities of diverse communities, stewardship of resources, and the importance of having a balanced and harmonious relationship with our environment.
From the majestic Abel Tasman region of New Zealand, to the fertile mountain valleys of Fiji; to the largest tropical rainforest of Australia, to exploring marine ecosystems while scuba diving the waters of Savusavu, Carpe Diem Education offers a unique opportunity to discover diverse island communities, learn about the importance of environmental conservation, and to cultivate a strong sense of leadership and engagement through outdoor recreation.
- Engage with local Māori communities and discover Indigenous perspectives, social and environmental activism, and gain deeper insight into Māori history, ceremony, and mythology.
- Develop your leadership skills at an outdoor leadership school on the South Island of New Zealand. Hike the Abel Tasman trail, find your courage on high ropes courses, and take a well-earned rest around the campfire at the end of the day.
- Spend 9-10 days in a remote Fijian village, living with homestay families, engaging in community projects, and experiencing a way of life vastly different from our own.
- Work alongside New Zealand farmers and Australian scientists while diving into the world of environmental conservation, regenerative agriculture, and sustainable living.
- Explore the amazing underwater world of coral reefs while earning your PADI Open Water Scuba Certification.
Known to be a leader in environmental policy and stewardship, New Zealand boasts an incredible landscape of fertile green valleys, rugged mountain scenery, and access to incredible ocean environments. We’ll explore these landscapes through outdoor adventure, working on an organic farm, and living in communities who are making conservation a way of life. Throughout the journey, we’ll examine the role of the Māori culture in the context of post colonial reconciliation, environmental awareness, and relationship with the natural world.
Traveling to Fiji, we’ll explore a vastly different island culture. Comprised of over 300 islands, Fiji offers a diverse landscape of tropical beaches, coral reefs, rugged mountains, and majestic waterfalls. The Fijian culture is characterized by a warmth and kindness towards visitors, and an emphasis on bonds of family and kinship. Here we will discover remote Fijian village life, exploring the intricacies of village social structure, the amazing hospitality of host families, and the daily life of Fijian villagers. After our homestay, we will take time to explore the colorful coral ecosystems while obtaining our PADI Open Water Diver Certification.
Saying farewell to host families and the beauty of Fiji, we arrive in Australia. Already a land of environmental extremes, Australia now faces the impacts of increased drought, endangered marine ecosystems, and other realities of climate change and human activity. We’ll work alongside scientists and activists in the field of environmental conservation and education, all the while exploring the largest contiguous rainforest of Australia, the Daintree. We end our journey with a reflective retreat, taking time to digest our experience and to understand how this will inform our next steps.
How will the global community respond to climate change and environmental degradation? Who is leading this movement? How are current governments contributing to (or undermining) reconciliation and human rights movements specific to Indigenous cultures? And what do Indigenous perspectives tell us about how to relate with people, planet, and self?
The Carpe Diem Education South Pacific program addresses these questions, and provides a means to reflect on these questions, participate in solutions, and understand how you too can be a leader in creating positive change.
Accepting Applications For:
I learned more in the past three months than I have in 18 years of school. It is a new type of learning that most people just aren't accustomed to. We are used to sitting in classrooms and learning by memorizing, but nothing compares to going out into the field and experiencing it for yourself. I would highly recommend a Gap Year to anyone that is unsure of what they want to do, anyone who feels like they need a break from school or anyone who just wants to explore our beautiful world and create as many meaningful connections as possible.
I've learned more about myself and my personal values in the past three months than I had in my whole life. By being on my own and having to speak my mind, I reassured myself of everything I believed in. I stood up for what I believed in because people were asking. By saying what you want out of life and what you believe in to people who just met you, you are embedding your values. Being in a new country makes you feel invincible and as if all the possibilities you've imagined for yourself are obtainable realities.
This is the best decision I could've made. Carpe Diem became part of my life at a time when I wasn't confident in my ability to achieve because I was tied to an outdated timeline for my education. Through Carpe Diem, I was able to grasp the true meaning of lifelong learning; everything is a process, and if the only objective is the end goal, what happens to the focus on the lifetime in between? Life should be lived moment to moment, each day as an individual goal, else we'd lose the little experiences that enhance us as people.
Seize Your Journey
- Build your group community and clarify your intentions for the journey. Discuss cultural norms and how to be a respectful and responsible guest.
STUDENT DIRECTED TRAVEL
- Put your traveling (and budgeting) skills to the test as the group designs and implements their week of “free travel”. Depending on your itinerary, the group may choose to hike the Southern Alps, kayak through Milford Sound, or journey to Queenstown. Perhaps you’ll surf on the chill beaches of Raglan or hike the famous Tongariro Crossing. Whatever the group chooses, it will be epic!
COMMUNITY BASED SERVICE LEARNING
- Experience village life in rural Fiji. Live with a homestay family, sharing meals, learning local customs, and creating lasting friendships. Participate in a community development project in the day, enjoy a game of rugby with local children, and take a weekend day to hike to a brilliant waterfall. Enjoy the relaxed pace of Fijian life.
Organic Farming and Conservation
Learn about organic farming principles and practices by working on a farm alongside the inhabitants of Aotearoa (New Zealand), a community who cares deeply for their land and remain world leaders in organic farming efforts. Topics will include permaculture, biodynamics, food systems, and the connection between humans and the natural world.
In Northern Australia, the group will live and work on a permaculture site that emphasizes forest regeneration, animal rehabilitation, and the importance of pollinators. This site is operated by two young scientists who are role models for local environmental activism and solution-based approaches to environmental issues.
Learn the history of the indigenous peoples (Māori) of Aotearoa. Emphasis is placed on language, traditions, culture, and social/political activism. Live on a Marae, a communal and sacred site that serves as a meeting place for social and religious gatherings.
Outdoor Leadership School
Answer the call to adventure by spending eight days at an outdoor leadership school. Activities vary depending on season, and may include: trekking, kayaking, outdoor navigation skills, ropes course, rappelling, and traditional Māori waka (canoe). Learn team building concepts and develop your personal leadership style while discovering some of New Zealand’s most amazing landscapes.
Discover an incredible underwater world as you take four days to earn your PADI Open Water certification. From sea turtles to reef sharks to manta rays, every dive is a unique encounter with many of the planet’s most amazing creatures.
Take time to reflect on your experiences and bring the focus back to your inner landscape. The group will spend five to six days learning different spiritual practices: either meditating at a peaceful Buddhist monastery or stretching ourselves at a yoga ashram. The group will engage in daily “seva” (selfless service) as an aspect of expressing gratitude.
The Student Experience
Explore the following links to learn about the South Pacific student experience.