US university students on tour study of Fiji

The Centre College, Kentucky, USA students and professors inside the Fijian Parliament. Picture: SUPPLIED/FIJIAN PARLIAMENT

EIGHTEEN university students who are on a three-week break and three professors from Centre College, Kentucky, USA are in the country to study how things evolve so rapidly in a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society like Fiji.

The group today visited the Fijian Parliament.

According to tour coordinator and Vice President for Legal Affairs and Gift Planning Professor James Leahey, one of the things their class was looking at was how people were working with a newer constitution.

“How are you meeting the needs and the challenges of your people with a relatively new constitution and how you have been doing that since independence,” Prof Leahey said.

“By coming to Fiji, it is a wonderful way to look at how change can happen so rapidly and how the constitutions can develop over a short period of time.”

For undergraduate student Noel Tingle, she was excited to see where MPs actually meet and their sitting arrangement inside Parliament.

“My favourite part of this visit was going into the building and seeing where the MPs sit because we have been reading about them and the political history of Fiji,” Tingle said.

“It was also interesting to see the Ministers sitting close to the Speaker while he is seated on a raised platform. I take Comparative Politics in my university, I thought it is quite interesting comparing this system to the British system and the US system.

“As for the dragging of the Speaker, hearing the story behind it was interesting. My initial reaction was that it has some relationship to the coup back then in Fiji. Then I realised that it’s another tie to the Westminster system and how you’ve carried forward with that tradition.”

The group was given a 20-minute presentation on how the Fijian Parliament works, a brief history about it before they visited the Parliament Discovery Centre.

The group will continue their study visit at the Fiji Museum, then to the Coral Coast before heading back home.

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