News 13 Dec 2018
As a PCF intern studying a Bachelor of Computing Systems at Unitec, Solomon Islander Esmond Siope describes his internship at Pacific Trade & Invest in Auckland as “a dream opportunity”.
“I’ve long had an interest in computers, so when I read about the experiences of former PCF interns from the Pacific, I decided to apply for an IT scholarship as my major,” he recalls.
“A couple of friends who had done the internship really encouraged me to go for it.”
With the Solomon Islands signing an agreement with Australia to build a new 4000km high-speed internet cable in June with Australian aid funding, Esmond’s decision was well-timed.
“Unfortunately, we in the Solomon Islands are quite backward in terms of IT, so reading the cable agreement between my country and Australia was a real boost,” he says.
“We’re just a developing country, but this has opened an opportunity for people like me to learn what I can in IT in New Zealand and take it back home.”
The Solomon Islands are still recovering from the ravages of a Civil War, known as The Tensions which lasted from 1998-2003. It rose quarter of a century after independence was gained in 1978. As the capital Honiara grew, tensions rose between the local Gwale people and Malaitans from neighbouring island of Malaita, splitting communities and families, too, including Esmond’s.
“My mother, who was part-Gwale, went back to her province of Treso while my father, who is Malaitan, stayed in Honiara,” he recalls.
“It wasn’t as dangerous as it was during the war, but the family took a safety, cautious approach to avoid getting caught up in ill-feelings and negative talk.”
His situation in Auckland is a far cry from back home, where the infrastructure is limited, so he’s determined to make the most of his internship.
“I enjoy the infrastructure Auckland has. I walk about 20 minutes from my residence to the train station in Mt Albert, then walk five minutes to my job,” he says.
“But what I’m excited about is the opportunity to learn as much as I can. We meet with designers responsible for developing websites and one of my courses relates to project management and control.
“Being exposed to real-work environments is exciting … and mind-blowing, so it’s up to me to make the most of it when I return back to the Solomons.”
Esmond will return home to the Solomons for a three-week break during the holidays, before returning to Auckland to finish his three-month internship.