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Don Pollock shares memories from Fiji

Don Pollock, professor of communications, recounts his experiences on a recent trip to Fiji to a group gathered in the President’s Dining Room on Monday. The lecture included a slide show of photographs depicting the culture and beauty of this collection of South Pacific islands. / photo by David Bess

Rachel Creagen
Staff Writer

Don Pollock, professor of communications, took a group of approximately 20 faculty and students on a journey of self-exploration through his faculty lecture on Monday in the President’s Dining Room.

The presentation, titled “Forgetting Fiji: Meditations on a Tropical Fever Dream,” was about his trip to Fiji in January 2010, after having been there 30 years earlier.

“I have journeyed to 30 different states and five continents since my trip to Fiji in 1979,” Pollock said.

Still, Fiji stayed at the top as the best place he had ever traveled and the University of La Verne made it possible for him to return to the Pacific island he remembers so fondly.

Al Clark, associate vice president for academic affairs and coordinator of the faculty lecture series, explained that the funds came from the faculty research committee.

If anyone wants to use funds from the committee, he or she must apply for them and must also convince the committee that their research is valuable.

Pollock’s proposition was to show the different time zones, which he presented well.

Pollock showed pictures from when he left his home in Hawaii, and spent six months traveling the South Pacific.

He ended up in a remote village where about 50 people lived on top of a mountain.

He shared with the audience fond memories from his stay in the village, some adventures he encountered with the villagers and the many nights they spent enjoying Kava, a native celebratory drink.

He took pictures of and with his new friends and planned to mail them copies, only to lose the address once he had returned home.

On Pollock’s second trip, LVTV assistant Yesel Manrique, commonly referred to as “Yak,” was able to accompany Pollock on his travels.

“I had a different approach than Don. He was very trusting,” Manrique said.

“It made me nervous to be carrying all of our equipment plus everything else we needed on us at all times, but Fijian people are the nicest people I have ever met.”

As fate would have it, the men were able to return to the village Pollock had once stayed.

He was then able to keep his promise in sharing with them the memories he had captured in photos so many years before.

He shared personal insight to the struggle that comes with making a movie about himself.

“You have all the aspects of making film and you have yourself. Having to deal with how you come across on camera is daunting,” Pollock said.

The presentation came to a close as a teaser of his film was to be presented, but due to technical difficulties, did not show.

“It was an interesting reflection and a well-represented story,” Clark said.

“Whatever I might wish for Fiji, progress is inevitable and you can’t stop change,” Pollock said. “The people are starting to want more.”

“Photographs freeze a moment, and help you to remember people in a certain time; they are very powerful that way,” Pollock said.

Rachel Creagan can be reached at rachel.creagan@laverne.edu.

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