Esther, TechGirls 2022, Fiji
Growing up, I have always wondered what my purpose in life was. I began to search for ways to spend my time in hopes to ignite an interest that would bring me happiness and satisfaction. I discovered that as I assisted loved ones in my community, it gave me a sense of meaning and appreciation. With a vast range of opportunities, it is unfortunate that many youths are not able to tap into their potential that could bring about an impactful change in their community.
As I recollect my journey in the TechGirls program, I initially was tentative towards applying because I did not think that I would be chosen when compared to many other impressive applicants from my country. As a young girl from a small country, an all-paid summer exchange program to one of the biggest countries in the world sounded too good to be true. A few weeks passed and I received an email stating that I had been selected as one of three pioneers to represent Fiji in the 2022 TechGirls Program. It was definitely the happiest day of my life. “You’ll never know until you try” were the words my mother shared with me after I got the news. Little did I know, that was only the beginning of the biggest breakthrough in my life.
I can truly say that the TechGirls program was indeed an eye-opening experience that I had no idea I needed. Experiencing university life in Virginia Tech was refreshing. It gave me a thrilling desire to work hard and return to pursue higher studies. As an introvert coming into the program, I was nervous at first but was surrounded by a wonderful support group who encouraged originality and embraced the uniqueness of others. Today, I can honestly say that I’ve become more vocal and confident. I encountered many talented, beautiful, strong, and knowledgeable young girls who shared with me a piece of their country and their identity which I so deeply value. Being surrounded by these young change-makers gave me an outlook of the change that our world needed today sooner rather than later.
My project, “Fueling Green”, aims to help my village reduce its dependence on fossil fuel gas whose price has sky-rocketed within the past few years and produce a much ‘greener’ source that will also encourage a greener lifestyle. “Fueling Green” was based in my village, Naocobau, Nakorotubu, Ra and featured 10 families, most of which were females, to construct and utilize a biogas digester that would produce a healthy cooking alternative and organic manure for agricultural practises. I was definitely moved by how a small idea or a small push would lead to what could be an impactful change.
I am forever indebted to the TechGirls program for showing me that I too could be part of the change I wanted to see in the world. Overall, I would love to encourage young girls to make the most of every opportunity that presents itself because when you are blessed, you become a blessing to others.