Brenna Yovanoff, author of The Replacement, is holding a contest to win her second novel, The Space Between. Unfortunately, I have yet to read The Replacement, but I am still very interested in participating in this contest just because it gives me a chance to talk about a very cool experience I had.
Details about the contest can be found here, but hurry up... the deadline is midnight Eastern time on October 2nd.
One of the requirements of this contest is to talk about a trinket or souvenir that is important to me, and I shall do that now.
For the past two months I have been studying abroad in Fiji. Living in a developing country has proven to be quite an interesting and challenging task, because everyday people here live much different than people back in America. For example, the people live in "bures," which are basically thatched huts, and those that don't live in bures live in poorly constructed houses with no air conditioning units, no kitchen, no hot water, etc. The communities are quite different as well. A traditional Fijian village will be made up of a combination of different families, and the focal point of village life is at the community building where traditional ceremonies are held (such as the sevusevu ceremony, which is used to welcome visitors to the village), or the church on Sundays.
As a study abroad student, I had the opportunity to stay in one of these villages for a weekend, and my time there was invaluable. It made me learn to appreciate the luxuries that I have as an American, and also gain a greater respect for people living in developing countries. I know I will bring this new-found respect back to America with me, and it will make me a much better person in the long-run.
I told you that story to explain my memento: a two piece blouse and shirt combination that was given to me by my village sister. I was given the opportunity to sit in during their church service on Sunday, and my sister wanted to make sure that I was traditionally dressed for the service. She let me keep the outfit, even though I'm sure the family could use all the fabric and clothes they can get, and I will always keep it as a reminder of my learning experience in a Fijian village.
Note: this picture is just a general overview of what church clothes might look like. Mine is more of a floral print, and the top it not quite as long.