PISAN Fono heads south

PISAN Fono 2017-South

South Island based New Zealand Scholars have an opportunity to hear the experiences of those who have studied before them, at the Pacific Island Scholars Alumni Network (PISAN) Fono this weekend.

Last weekend’s North Island Fono has been a huge hit with scholars studying at universities around the North Island, and the Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) team is anticipating the South Island event will have a similar impact on attendees.

Scholars from the Pacific and Timor Leste, studying at the University of Otago, the University of Canterbury (UC) and Lincoln University will gather at Christchurch’s UC on Friday for the three-day event, facilitated by PCF.

Like the North Island event, scholars will hear key note speakers, and attend workshops based on the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) 2016 Communique and the priority areas it outlines.

Their conclusions and ideas will be collaborated with the North Island scholars’ ideas, and this “Pacific youth voice” will be presented at the PIF Leaders’ Meeting in Samoa later this year, by two selected scholars – one from the North Island Fono, and another from the South Island Fono.

On Saturday, key note speaker Bluesky Country Manager in American Samoa Filifotu (Fotu) Vaai-Tinitali will take the stage – and she cannot wait to share her journey with the scholars.

Fotu is a former NZ Scholar and an alumnus of the Pacific, having completed a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration degree with Honours (Information Systems/Electronic Commerce and Commercial Law) at Wellington’s Victoria University.

She has also completed a Master of Arts Degree in Communications (Telecommunications and Information Resource Management) from the University of Hawaii.

Having held various senior roles – such as Marketing Manager – American Samoa, Marketing and Retail Director – Bluesky Group – during her 10 years of working in the Pacific telecommunications industry, Fotu has ample experience to share with students at the Christchurch-based Fono.

“I saw the Fono as a chance to spread a message of encouragement and positivity to current students, as well as to visit old stomping grounds, and as an opportunity to give back to the New Zealand Scholarship, which gave me such a great foundation in my career and life,” Fotu says.

On Sunday, another alumnus of the NZ Scholarship initiative, Fred Kolgato, an engineer from the Solomon Islands will make a presentation to the scholars.

Fred, who studied at UC, will share his journey about travelling to NZ from the Solomon Islands, and about his time as a NZ Scholar, including anecdotes about the challenges he has faced and overcome, as well as the highlights.

Also scheduled is an Amazing Race, and a panel discussion about Summer Internships.

Applications for the 2017-2018 Summer Internship initiative opened at the North Island Fono, and current scholars will hear how an internship can open doors for them on their return to their homeland after completing their studies.

The PISAN Fono – South gets underway on Friday, and concludes Sunday afternoon.

Visit http://pcf.org.nz/summer-internships/ to download applications for 2017-18 Summer Internships.