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On top of the world

Success Stories 7 Dec 2018

Not many can say that they spent most of their childhood around the world, but for Talie Mundia, that was his reality.

Talie Mundia is one of this year’s PCF Summer Interns and has just completed his first year at the University of Auckland studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours). His host agency Pacific Engineering Projects Ltd (PEP), has an international reach throughout the Pacific region which Talie says suits him seeing as he has a natural affinity with different cultures and peoples due to his upbringing and unique heritage.

“I’m half Samoan and half Zambian but I was born in Papua New Guinea,” explains Talie.

“Although I was born in PNG, I was raised in a handful of countries due to my father’s work. I grew up in Swaziland, Brunei, Samoa and most recently New Zealand.

“I’ve been fortunate to have been raised in different countries as it has exposed me to new places, beliefs and people as well as broaden my world view and understanding of cultures.”

As the youngest of his family, Talie says they are his source of inspiration and motivation, particularly his father who is an associate professor in Psychology.

“My father is the most inspiring person in my life, he grew up in a poor family in Zambia with seven other siblings but still managed to go to school and later to university,” he says

“With hard work and determination, he was awarded a scholarship to Cornell University to study for his Masters and Doctorate in Psychology. He showed my siblings and I that perseverance and hard work are the finest tools to change any difficult circumstance.”

Inheriting his father’s work ethic, Talie was awarded the NZ MFAT scholarship and says the scholarship has provided him with opportunities to find work experience in his area of study. Talie initially had doubts about studying engineering, saying that engineering seemed ‘too technical’, however thanks to his older brother who is a civil engineer, he had a change of heart.

“My older brother spoke with enthusiasm about the content he learnt at school and the jobs civil engineers do. This changed my perception of engineering and ultimately awakened my interest in the field.”

“I also learnt that civil engineers play an important role in the development of developing countries such as Samoa.”

The aspiring civil engineer plans to work in improving the infrastructure and lead sustainability projects in his beloved islands.

“In some rural villages in Samoa, there is poor access to roads, water and electricity. Being a civil engineer will allow me to help contribute back to Samoa by applying my knowledge and work experience to design better infrastructures in these areas.”

“I also plan on encouraging more sustainable projects to be performed, to reduce Samoa’s carbon footprint and the challenges that we will face due to climate change and global warming in the future.”

Talie is making the most of his internship with PEP, involving himself with project management work and taking cues from his mentors who he says are supportive. Applying for the PCF Summer Internship is his best decision after contemplating on another internship opportunity.

“The internship caught my attention as it helped students from the Pacific like myself gain work experience. Coincidentally, around the same time I was also considering finding an internship position with an engineering company around Auckland.”

“However, after doing more research into what PCF does and its strong focus on the region, I decided to apply for the summer programme.”

“I’m very grateful that PCF selected me for this year and when I met the team for the first time, I knew that I would be in good hands.”