WHAT does Cultural Week Involve?
Why Involvement Volunteers International?
PROJECT NAME: CULTURAL ORIENTATION WEEK
LOCATION: PORT VILLA
START DATES: WEEKLY ARRIVALS (SAT/SUN)
ACCOMMODATION: VOLUNTEER HOUSE
MIN DURATION: 1 WEEK
MIN AGE: 16+
SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: N/A
1 Day Orientation
24/7 In-Country Support
Project Materials & Equipment
Pre-departure Expert Advice
Preperation Tools & Checklists
Certificate of Completion
The introduction week is designed to ease you into the culture and pace of Vanuatu and to help you prepare for your volunteering placements so that you get the most from the experience. It’s a great way to acclimatize, meet other volunteers. This program is based in Port Vila and as per the below schedule, you’ll visit interesting locations which will help you learn about Vanuatu, the local customs and culture as well as fun things to do on your weekends off! Additionally, you’ll have cooking classes, local language and art courses which can be lots of fun and well worth the effort.
The orientation weeks start on the first Monday of each month (with 2 in June and July).
Port Vila, the capital and main hub of Vanuatu is situated on Efate island. The architecture has mainly french with the population quite multicultural including ni-Vanuatu, Chinese, Vietnamese, British and French. Port Vila has all the standard facilities you’d expect from a commercial hub such as hospitals, shopping districts (note Vanuatu is a tax haven so duty free!), sports stadium, hotels, casino, museums and cultural centers. The town is a great base for divers who come for the trips to Mele Cascades, a large rain forest water fall with rock pools and incredible scenery. As the commercial hub tourism plays an important role, however it does not feel ‘touristy’ especially in the areas where IVI services. Here you can get to know the locals and truly experience the authentic lifestyle from outside of the tourist resorts.
- Sunday: Arrival meet and greet, settle into accommodation and meet the others
-Welcome and introduction to the program and collection of important documents
-City tour of Port Vila
-Learn the basics of Bislama in the language class and weaving class
-Mele cascades waterfall
-Learn to cook traditional Melanesian dishes
-Learn Ni-Vanuatu Culture in Secret garden
-Full day picnic trip to Blue Lagoon
-Visit to the placement of your choice
-Prepare for first placement activities
- Sat/Sun: Free time
Food & Accommodation
Accommodation is in a dedicated house very close to the beach! Volunteers will share a bedroom with up to 2-4 persons per room (single gender rooms). There is WiFi included in public areas, laundry facilities (at small additional fee), lockable rooms, cold/warm showers, bed linen, mosquito protection and fans included. Volunteers are requested to bring their own towel. Living with other volunteers in a dormitory-style house is heaps of fun and a great way to meet like minded travelers. The volunteer house is in close proximity to a basic supermarkets, ATM, fresh fruit and vegetable stands, petrol stations and bus stop.
*For couples or those wanting more privacy, private rooms in the volunteer house are available for an additional US$150 per week, subject to availability.
*You will be expected to clean up after yourself, and to play your part to keep the accommodation neat and tidy.
3 meals a day on weekdays and 2 meals a day on weekends will be provided for the duration of your placement. Food will be mainly authentic to the local culture which includes plenty of chicken dishes, coconut based curries, dhal (lentils), fresh fish, saffron rice and tropical fruits. Meals are served at your home stay each day or at the project site. There is also filtered water available at the volunteer center. Bottled water is also readily available in Vanuatu.
*If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you.
If you want to gain a head start on your projects and feel comfortable in your new surroundings, before you begin, this week is a fantastic way to do just that! It gives you time to adjust before your project begins, to explore the local area and to learn more about the culture and customs. This can greatly help you to communicate with the locals on your projects.
- Accommodation (Home Stays – Sharing with other volunteers)
- 2 meals p/day (Breakfast & Dinner)
- Arrival Airport transfer to Canggu
- Return transfers from from Canggu to Seraya
- In-country qualified healthcare practitioner coordinator
- ‘Love our earth’ Bali survival kit (what’s in it? It’s a surprise!)
- Filtered drinking water, coffee & tea daily
- Full day orientation & training + cultural sightseeing
- In country 24/7 coordination & emergency assistance
- Fundraising support
- University course credits (where applicable)
- Certificate of Completion
- Travel Insurance
- Tours, Souvenirs & spending money
An arrival airport transfer is included for pick-ups on Sundays. If arriving on other days, you’ll need to make your own way to the placement. We’ll provide instructions for this and will assist you. If arriving on the Saturday, you’ll need to book an extra nights accommodation in advance at a cost of US$50 p/night including meals. Local travel to the projects and other sites is also included in the cost of the program.
Each day will be full of fun and exciting activites, as well as lessons on the local culture, all to prepare you to get the best out of your trip! Please refer to the daily schedule above in the ‘overview’ section.
Weekends are always free for relaxing or sightseeing of your choice. Our team on the ground will help you organize additional trips at local rates! There’s heaps of things to see and do in Vanuatu, from museums and cultural centers to island hopping, hiking, water sports like snorkeling, diving, boating and fishing etc.
*No extra requirements for the program
Covered in tropical rain forests, mountains and volcanoes, Vanuatu is a stunning group of 88 islands in the South Pacific. With the vast majority of islands uninhabited, the total population stands at approx 250,000. With the Solomon islands to the north, Fiji in the east and New Caledonia to the south, Vanuatu is known for it’s mostly volcanic archipelago, incredible diving, stunning scenery, warm and friendly hospitality and laid back rural lifestyle with calm atmosphere.
For most in Vanuatu, farming is the main source of income, hence significant economic issues exist in most parts of the country. With the main export crops consisting of beef, timber, copra, squash and cocao, many crops are highly influenced by local weather and cyclone damage and flooding are common. Tourism is becoming a major component of the local economy however there is not the strong tourism undertone that you would find in Fiji for example. It’s much more low key.
Very few employment activities exist outside the towns and regional government centers. Most villages outside Port Vila (the capital) have no electricity, and access to piped water is a luxury in many parts. Local traditions are strong and have been heavily influenced by colonization by the British and French. Christianity is the main religion practiced.
Vanuatu is warm year round and has a tropical/ sub tropical climate.
Novemeber to March is summer, which has an average temperature of 28 degrees. This brings hot, humid and rainy weather, as well as cyclones. Most of the resorts are in the South of the island, due to it’s cooler climate, less rainfall and less chance of extreme waether.
Winter is from April to October, with much cooler temperatures of around 23 degrees. The sea is warm all year round- perfect for swimming!
Vanuatu is recognized as one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Dances, ceremonies, artistic styles, authority status, and cultural traditions can vary from island to island and district to district. The locals are so friendly and welcoming to tourists. Within villages, tribal alliances are still intact and money does not play a significant role in their daily lives. The pace and lifestyle is also very laid back. Do not worry too much about this, enjoy the island time!
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