Livingston woman teaches children in Fiji over summer

Samantha Hill

Over 6,300 miles from Montana, a Livingston woman headed to Fiji over the summer to teacher eight weeks, learning what it was like to live on another side of the world.

Lindzi Printz, 20, who graduated from Park High School just a few short years ago, was looking for a way to go somewhere while she took a year off of school at Montana State University.

Printz said she had never really spent anytime outside of the country so she was looking for some new experiences. However, she said she didn’t want to travel just for the sake of traveling, she wanted to help people.

Through International Volunteer HQ, an organization that trains volunteers in different fields to work in international countries, Printz was trained to teach schooling, although she hadn’t been interested in that before.

Initially, she was going to be sent to Rio De Jainero in Brazil in February earlier this year, but with some of the political unrest and violence, she ended up having to cancel that trip.

When the opportunity to go to Fiji arose, she said she had to go for it.

“I was torn between going to Morocco and Fiji, I really wanted to go next to the ocean though,” Printz said.

On June 3, she was sent ten minutes outside the large city of Suva, in a village where she stayed at a home for the volunteers on the island. Printz said when she arrived, there were probably 20 volunteers but by the time she left there were over 100, doing anything from teaching, construction or offering medical care.

While she was there, she helped teach elementary school kids. In the mornings, she would help instruct a kindergarten class at a school in one of the villages. In the afternoons in another village, she helped tutor students kindergarten through sixth grade but mostly fourth and fifth grade students.

“They were just so appreciative than students in the U.S. it seems,” Printz said.

Many Fijians live in poverty and Printz got to experience that first hand. She said the house she was staying in was one of the nicer ones in the area, but she still saw cockroaches and mice in her room. The house did have running water but it often didn’t have hot water, so showers were either with boiled water or cold.

She said that doctors would come to the school to offer hygiene and check the student’s teeth, which were often unbrushed, or worse, black.

“Its crazy that people consider this literal paradise but there is this kind of stuff happening,” Printz said.

Much of the food the volunteers and the people living there ate was high carbohydrates and low in protein, with many meals consisting of rice with some kind of tropical fruit, curry, or taro, a potato-like vegetable.

During the weekends, she got to explore the many hundreds of islands that make up Fiji, but she said the people were her favorite part of the trip.

“It seems like people don’t have a lot but they are the happiest people I have ever seen,” Printz said.

She is still in contact with people from the area but she doesn’t know when she will be able to go back. Printz said she wants to go to a different country just to experience more culture, although she doesn’t know where or when.

Back at MSU for the end of her sophomore year, Printz will not be studying teaching, but rather learning to be a medical or surgical assistant. Hopefully, one day bringing her talents to another country that might need help with medical care.

“It would be great to teach hygiene to those kids someday,” she said.