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​Learning the way of the world

Success Stories 25 Jan 2018

Meet Zach Fonoti – one of the Summer Interns taking part in Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) Summer Internship initiative. The 20-year-old from Samoa, has been studying Political Studies and International Relations at Victoria University on a New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) Scholarship.

Zach has been placed at Auckland Council Local Board Services Department Mangere-Otahuhu and Otara-Papatoetoe Local Boards, since November. Zach is pictured above with his team.

His time there will come to an end in February. He shares his experience so far…

Why did you choose your particular field of study, in NZ?

“I chose to study International Relations and Political Science because the world revolves around it. It looks at history, power, political systems, theories, ideologies, concepts, social movements, conflict and decision making that impacts countries on a national and global scale. I wanted to understand people’s political motives. I am intrigued at how politics operates and how different governments and parliaments are structured and how countries are governed. I also wanted to deepen my understanding of how countries interact with each other. International Relations and Political Science is also priority field of study as given by the Public Service Commission of Samoa.”

How do you hope to use this degree when you return to Samoa?

“I believe with the knowledge and skills I have received from studying International Relations and Political Science, I will be able to contribute to the development of Samoa by hopefully working at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade at the completion of my internship, when I return to serve my country.”

Describe your Summer Internship experience.

“My Summer Internship is going very well. I am Interning for the Auckland Council Local Board Services Department Mangere-Otahuhu and Otara-Papatoetoe Local Boards. I have been assigned a project and I am to prepare a report on impact and results of local board funding support to Business Improvement Districts Associations in Mangere-Otahuhu local board area from 2015-2018. I have also been shadowing my fellow colleagues, and attending meetings and workshops to help better my understanding of what a work environment is like and also how Local Board Services is run.”

What has been the highlight of your internship so far?

“My highlight so far would be working alongside a good bunch of people who work hard. They are definitely an inspiration to me, which I hope will motivate me to work hard when I return to Samoa.”

What are the most important / relevant skills you have acquired during your time at your placement?

“I would say working in a team and the development of interpersonal skills, as well as organisational skills and time management. I have learnt leadership and how to work autonomously, using my initiative to get work done. Also, I can think critically and creatively, and have gained the ability to think clearly and rationally, while being able to look at problems or situations from a fresh perspective and suggest solutions.”

Why do you think the Summer Internship initiative is important for scholars to be a part of?

“The Summer Internship is important for scholars to be a part of because it is an amazing opportunity that not everyone can get, especially if the work experience is from overseas. It helps you develop new skills to help you when you return to your home country for work. It is also a great opportunity to establish connections and create networks overseas that may benefit you in the future. It is also a way to challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone. This internship will help build your character.”

Pacific MFAT Scholars based in New Zealand have the opportunity to come together at the National Pacific Island Scholar Alumni Network (PISAN) National Fono in March.

Visit PCF for more information on the Summer Internship initiative.