Ricky Kresslein

Peace Corps Homestay


When I arrived in Nabitu Village, where I would complete my Peace Corps training, I had no idea what to expect. I would be meeting the family with whom I would be staying for the next two onths. Would they be kind? Cruel? Would they speak English? If not, how would we communicate? What would we talk about?

On the bus ride to the villages with the other Peace Corps Trainees, one girl had told me that a volunteer from the previous year who she had spoken to had had a very awkward first experience with her host family. Her hosts did not speak English, and she did not speak Fijian, so that first night they just sat on opposite sides of the room, staring at each other, not saying anything.

After the traditional sevusevu ceremony, in which a gift of kava is presented to a village chief, I shook hands with the woman I would call na, mother, whose family I would be staying with. She greeted me in English, which was a relief, but I still couldn’t be sure if she knew any words besides “hello”.

She walked me to her home where I met her husband, who I would now call ta. When we went to sit inside, I was pleased to learn that both them and my tutu—grandfather—spoke English very well. We talked for hours that night about our families, jobs, hobbies, and sports, and told many stories.

I knew from the first night that I was extremely lucky. Not only was I able to travel to a new country much different than my own and live in a village with the locals, but the family I was staying with were some of the best people I ever met. Thank you, Ta and Na, for making my integration into Fiji such a pleasant experience.

Here is a tour of their home and a glimpse at the fun and outgoing personalities of their children, my sisters: