On March 10 - 12, for the first time ever, Pacific and Timor Leste students on New Zealand Scholarships from around the North Island will gather for the Pacific Island Scholar Alumni Network (PISAN) Fono at the University of Auckland (UoA).
Approximately 300 students are expected to travel from tertiary institutions around the North Island, including Victoria University, Massey University, AUT, Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT), Unitec and the UoA, for the inaugural Fono.
It is the first of two separate events hosted by Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF), in efforts to strengthen the Pacific (and Timor Leste) Scholar Alumni.
While the South Island Fono is due to get underway on March 17 at Canterbury University, the North Island Fono will kick off on Friday when the out-of-town scholars arrive.
On Saturday morning, the Auckland-based students will join them for a day of networking, key-note speaker presentations, workshops, and an Amazing Race to discover the city of Auckland.
New Zealand Scholarship Pacific network alumnus Noel Mobiha – an ICT and energy consultant from Papua New Guinea, who has held senior management and advisory roles in PNG will speak on Saturday morning, about how the Scholarship has impacted his life and benefitted his career.
A workshop, centred around the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) Communique 2016 priority areas will follow and then discussed by a panel – a process which aims at hearing and recording the voice of the region’s youth, PCF Programme Development Manager Leaupepe Taala Ralph Elika says.
“The aim is to gather information from the youth of the region to collate in a document – and at the end of the two Fono events, two scholars will be selected to present this document to the PIF at the PIF Leaders Meeting in Samoa later this year,” Ralph says.
Priority areas from the Communique which will be focused on in the PIF workshop include
• Climate change and disaster risk management
• West Papua
• Persons with disabilities
• Cervical cancer
• Regional mobility and harmonisation of business practice.
On Sunday – the final day of the Fono, another NZ Scholarship Pacific network alumna Jody Jackson-Becerra will share her student experiences with the current cohort of scholars.
The AUT Community Engagement Manager stems from Savaii, Samoa.
Jody left her family and tight-knit community behind to pursue her education in NZ, to gain an academic qualification so she could support her family and be more independent.
After completing a Bachelor of Social Science in Geography/Tourism from the University of Waikato, Jody returned to Samoa to work for the Government as a strategic tourism planning adviser.
She eventually came back to NZ however, to reopen the Samoa Tourism office in Auckland.
From there, she went on to work in the community health sector in Hamilton and particularly enjoyed working with families and migrant communities.
Jody has completed her master’s thesis in 2010 at the University of Waikato, where she looked at the uptake of business sustainability practices: a comparison between Samoan and NZ small businesses and she is currently furthering her knowledge through the Emergency and Disaster Management programme at AUT South Campus.
It is hoped the Fono will educate and enlighten the scholars as well as strengthen their unique connection of belonging to the Pacific (and Timor Leste) network.
Applications for the 2017-18 Summer Internship will also be made available at the North Island Fono.
North Island Fono – Connecting regional leaders for the future
Where: The University of Auckland
When: March 11-12, 2017
Who: NZ Scholarship Pacific and Timor Leste Alumni students from the University of Auckland, AUT University, Manukau Institute of Technology, Unitec, Massey University – Albany and Palmerston North, Waikato University, Victoria University.
South Island Fono – Connecting regional leaders for the future
Where: The University of Canterbury
When: March 17-19, 2017
Who: NZ Scholarship Pacific and Timor Leste Alumni students from Otago University, Lincoln University and the University of Canterbury.