By CLAIRISSA MYATT
Freshman Tieri Erasito entered Lynn as a new student-athlete and the first Fijian to be enrolled ever at the university.
Erasito brings more than a fresh face to the Lynn campus, but a new flag as well. Erasito, grew up in Fiji, an island 7,460 miles from sunny Boca. Being that far away from home may seem hard to most, however Erasito is used to leaving home as she attended boarding school in England and frequently traveled for swimming.
Growing up in Fiji, the lifestyle is very different than that of an American.
“Everything is really laid back in Fiji, so for example, I call my friend’s parent’s auntie and uncle because everyone is really close,” said Erasito. “You’re bound to run into someone familiar just when you are going to the super market.”
Being that Fiji is a tiny island, it seems as if it is its own little world; a world of crystal clear water, white sandy beaches and plush palm trees. Although Erasito does not surf, she smiled as she explained how much time she spent just relaxing on the beach she referred to as home.
As far away as the island is, it is surprising to hear its advances over other countries. “Fiji is actually the second country aside from America to get new movies shown at the cinema,” explained Erasito, who was a frequent visitor to the theater.
Even though Fiji seems a world away, the schooling system is not much different than that in the states.
“We study all the basic things such as mathematics, science and history in Fiji. The only difference is that we don’t have school sports and we call it primary and secondary school,” said Erasito. She commented that there were no school sports, which seemed shocking seeing as Americans live for athletics. What would a Friday night be without a football game?
“If you want to play a sport, then everyone goes to a club team to practice and compete,” explained Erasito. The sport of her choice was swimming. In the midst of her junior year of school in Fiji, she moved to England and enrolled at Plymouth College, which is actually a high school to further her education and continue training.
“Even though in Fiji it was the middle of my junior year, in England, it was the beginning of theirs. The first year I was really homesick and called my mom daily,” said Erasito.
Living in a dorm building that was strictly for swimmers, Erasito felt instantly comforted and began to bond with friends straightaway. Her roommate, being an island girl as well, helped with the transition.
“Rooming with all swimmers was one of the biggest things that helped me. It was a bond that we all formed because in a way, we were all going through the same thing as far as training and schooling,” she continued.
Aside from the change of location and culture shock, Erasito also had an awakening when it came to the swimming world in England. In Fiji, the training and competition is nowhere near as intense as it is in England. Part of this may be due to the laid back sense of lifestyle on the island. The hard training only helped Erasito advance her skills as she had the opportunity to be selected to compete in the Youth Olympics as well as the FINA World Swimming Championships.
“Competing at Worlds was very intimidating for me. There, I swam against people much older than I was in the same heat. Going to the Youth Olympics was much more relaxing to compete in due to the age grouping. Both were amazing experiences.”
Swimming has brought more than just discipline and diligence, but travel opportunities as well.
“Because of swimming, I’ve been to Rome, Turkey, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and now that I am on the women’s swimming team at Lynn, I can add America to my list as well.”
Coming to Lynn has brought more than a great addition to the swimming team, but a new flag to campus as well. Although it has yet to be hung, Erasito is the first Fijian student to attend the school. She said with the brightest of smiles that, “it is such an honor to be the first person from Fiji here. It is very cool.”
Being a woman well traveled, Erasito has great ambition of where she would like to go next. Focusing on environmental studies, she would like to pursue her master’s degree in either New Zealand or Australia. Perhaps Erasito will be the first Fijian at her next campus as well. But for now, she embraces her culture and the glory of being the first at Lynn.