The SolarSPELL team traveled to Suva, Fiji in August to conduct a training of trainers. Teachers, Librarians, and Peace Corps volunteers from all over Fiji came to learn about the SolarSPELL digital library. Jude, an undergraduate student from the School of Politics and Global Studies, joined the SolarSPELL project in fall 2018 and traveled with the team to Fiji. The following is an anecdote from their experience:

When I first began working with SolarSPELL, I was a college junior at Arizona State University studying politics. At the time, traveling the world and making videos seemed like a pipe dream. Almost a year later, I can say that I have traveled making videos, and let me tell you, it’s the best job in the world.

My name is Jude, and I am SolarSPELL’s videographer. I recently went to Fiji with the SolarSPELL team to capture the implementation trip on camera. We spent three days in the capital city, Suva, teaching our new SolarSPELL family how to use the library. It was amazing to watch the participants explore the library for the first time. Their faces lit up when they first connected, and they only became more and more excited as they browsed the content.

In our training, I heard teachers and Peace Corps volunteers talk about teaching without the Internet, and librarians described traveling between islands to bring books to remote villages. The SolarSPELL will hopefully make their challenging jobs a little bit easier. Once they had connected, the teachers began envisioning new lesson plans and ways to enhance their curriculum. Peace Corps volunteers started talking about ways to teach English and incorporate library time with their students and community members. Librarians saw the possibilities for Fijians in all sorts of circumstances, from students reading digital textbooks in the city library to community members in rural villages downloading content from a traveling SolarSPELL. As Dr. Hosman says, with a SolarSPELL digital library, “the possibilities are endless.” Our workshop participants began to discover the many applications of the library, and it was not just my job, but my pleasure, to capture their reactions on film.

SolarSPELL creates these beautiful global connections. The initiative is not just about sending libraries around the world; it is so much more than that. The SolarSPELL initiative sent a student from Arizona to meet kids from Taveuni Island. It brought a library specialist to Suva so she could meet volunteers from Rhode Island and Oregon and New York in the middle of the Pacific. This project brings people of different cultures and backgrounds to share stories and learn from one another. Our time in Fiji was a celebration of learning, growth, adventure, and global connections. Thank you to our Fijian SolarSPELL family! Vinaka vaka levu.

One Comment

  • Sereima Vunitali says:

    Thank you Jude. In fact, it was a pleasure meeting you and the team from Arizona State University and the Peace Corps Volunteers. The teachers in the islands were all asking about the solarSPELL and if they could be bought. Even the members of the communities asked the same question as they saw it helpful to their children at home. According to them, when in school the children have limited times browsing through the SPELL but at home, they have all the time to browse and seek through the information regarding their projects and assignments. This is mostly referring to communities with no internet access, no electricity and cannot afford to send their children to the nearest town to carry out internet and library search as they are expensive. AT the same time, they say, when children are sent to towns, their objectives are diverted as they are driven elsewhere because of the bright lights and peer pressure. The solarSPELL will greatly help them to sit with their children and help them browse through the contents. It was indeed exciting.
    VInaka vakalevu for the wonderful solarSPELL experience which has brought hope to the people of Fiji . You have implemented an idea in a grand style.