Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | ESCAPE -

While ma­rine con­ser­va­tion is at the fore at Jean-michel Cousteau Re­sort, the pro­gram also en­twines lo­cal guid­ance from “bula bud­dies” who teach the chil­dren about their Fi­jian fam­ily tra­di­tions.

Bula bud­dies are young, en­er­getic and more akin to sib­lings than guides, but are all from the lo­cal Savusavu com­mu­nity.

The chil­dren visit their fam­ily vil­lages, share in lo­cal cus­toms led by dance, sig­ni­fied by art and craft, and cel­e­brated with food.

They at­tend the lo­cal school where the Con­nect to Kids pro­gram has been fos­tered by Jean-michel Cousteau to give kids a chance to forge bonds with sim­i­larly aged Fi­jian chil­dren out­side of the com­fort of the re­sort grounds.

It was heart­warm­ing to watch the chil­dren meet and learn of their in­nate sim­i­lar­i­ties, even though their worlds are so vastly dif­fer­ent. I felt this was a piv­otal link in my own chil­dren’s un­der­stand­ing that their place in the world is con­nected to some­thing much big­ger than just them.

I no­tice our morn­ing walks along the shore­line be­com­ing longer as our week pro­gresses. My kids are see­ing things dif­fer­ently. We stop reg­u­larly to spear man­grove seedlings into the mud, pick up rub­bish and even re-home a her­mit crab who had found him­self a felt-tip pen lid in­stead of a shell.

We went home with hearts full and a pen pal for my daugh­ter, with the girls al­ready trad­ing sto­ries about their con­trast­ing but now con­nected lives.

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