News Item

Young Intern driven to serve young nation

News 26 Nov 2018

Timor Leste citizen Sonia De Oliveira vows to make the most of her opportunities as a PCF Summer intern over the coming weeks. With Pacific Trade and Invest as her host intern, Sonia, says the placement is ideal for her.

“I’m at AUT University doing a Bachelor of Business, so being at PTI is great,” she says.

“I’d like to do something in the private sector as I believe my country has a lot of potential in trade.”

Oil and gas comprise more than 90% of total exports. It also exports coffee.

Previously known as East Timor, Timor Leste is one of the youngest countries on earth. On 20 May 2002, it gained independence from Indonesia, becoming the first new sovereign state of the 21st century to join the United Nations.

The island of Timor was part of the human migrations that first shaped and populated the Australasian region, with descendants and survivors from waves of migration still remaining.

The first Europeans to colonise Timor Leste were from Portugal in the 16th century, which until 1975, was known as East Timor, before it was invaded and occupied by Indonesia. Despite gaining independence in 2002, Sonia recalls how the troubles continued.

“I was living in the capital Dili, but there was some conflict between the people from east and west, so we moved to Baucau, which was safer,” she recalls.

In 1999, following the United Nations-sponsored act of self-determination, Indonesia relinquished control of the territory. In 2011, Timor Leste announced its intention to become the 11th member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), which has yet to be approved.

At the launch of the PCF Summer Interns 2018-19, board member Gerardine Clifford, a former Pacific intern herself, urged all of those selected to make the most of the opportunity.

“Being at the launch makes me reflect on my own journey all those years ago,” she recalls.

“Many of those who were alongside me then are now sitting in very senior roles in their respective countries. Just the other day I bumped into one who was serving as the Acting Prime Minister.

“Even if you don’t see each other much, you’ll always be connected by the bond of this internship. The bond will endure, because you may never know when that reconnection is of use and will be needed.”