USA students – First Parliament visitors for 2020

The tropical cyclone alert that Fiji is currently facing did not deter a group of 18 university students and three Professors from Centre College, Kentucky, USA to visit our Parliament this morning.

According to the tour coordinator and Vice President for Legal Affairs and Gift Planning, Professor James Leahey, the university students are on a three weeks break and decided to visit Fiji to study how things evolve so rapidly in a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society like Fiji.

“One of the things our class is looking at is how does the people work 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.

“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,” Professor Leahey said.

For undergraduate student Noel Tingle, seeing where the Members of Parliament (MPs) actually meet and their sitting arrangement inside Parliament is quite interesting.

“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.

“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,” Noel said.

The group was given a 20-minute presentation on how our Parliament works, a brief history about our Parliament and also 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.