The Pacific connects us all in amazing ways!


A mutual sense of déjà vu hit two young women who began working at the Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest (PT&amp;I) Auckland office a couple of weeks ago.<!--more-->

“When sitting down to start work on a Monday morning I engaged in polite normal conversation with PT&amp;I’s new Intern, as you do when you first meet somebody,” says student temp, Annabel Greenslade, who also began work at around the same time as intern Angeline Hirita Bata’nisia.

[caption id="attachment_7617" align="alignleft" width="400"]<a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-7617" src="" alt="Angeline (left) and Annabel at the PT&amp;I Auckland office -- reconnecting after years..." width="400" height="267" /></a> Angeline (left) and Annabel at the PT&amp;I Auckland office -- reconnecting after years...[/caption]

Angeline, as we introduced in our <a href="">last edition</a> of <em>Pacific Periscope</em>, is a fourth year Honours student in Applied Economics at Massey University and hails from Malaita in the Solomon Islands. Annabel is a University of Otago student living in Dunedin in the South Island. So, what explains the sense of déjà vu?

“As we talked, we realised that we’d both shared some years in Fiji and after recognising this we realised we knew each other through my sister Imogen, who was a friend of Angeline!” exclaims Annabel. “We all went to the same school – International School Suva -- and Imogen and Angeline were classmates.”

Annabel says her sister clearly recalls one friend from her home room class who “really helped her and introduced her to the ways of ISS. This was Angeline. What a pleasant coincidence that we have been stationed to work at the PT&amp;I across desks.”

Angeline is on an eight-week internship as part of the Under-graduate Student Summer Internship initiative, which the New Zealand Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFaT) is offering in cooperation with the Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF). Annabel’s holiday temp job involves data entry work.

“It was great to reminisce,” says Annabel. “Thinking back to the days at ISS, we would sit and debate about who was going to win the rugby (this was usually between the Wallabies, the Springboks, the Flying Fijians, or the All Blacks)...

“Several different cultures combined at one school -- it was an amazing experience. We got to engage with numerous people from different countries and created lifelong friends. I moved to Fiji in 2007 with my siblings and parents. This was a nervous and scary experience as it is when moving schools, let alone countries as well.”

Angeline’s father was employed with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in those years and so the family was stationed in Fiji, Angeline says. “It was wonderful remembering all those people at school,” she adds. “Many good times, experiences shared in terms of learning about various cultures of the Pacific Islands and the rest of the world – unity in diversity. We recalled Mrs Liu from the Cook Islands a strong PE teacher, International Day where we would all bring a plate from our culture…”

“We compared the ISS uniform being a Bula Shirt to the New Zealand schools, Sports day - we realised we were both in Iguana house, Mrs Long our passionate and loving South African Music Teacher and finally our participation in the popular competitive dance festival Tandra Kahani,” chimes in Annabel.

“I’ve been so looking forward to interning at PT&amp;I and I’m learning a lot here and enjoy the work atmosphere. But meeting Annabel was completely unexpected though so very awesome,” says Angeline.

“This allows me to realise how small this world is and what a twist of fate it was that Angeline was the girl that helped settle my sister into ISS,” says Annabel striking a philosophical note. “And this shows how we are all connected in a certain way because we share this love and appreciation for the Fiji and the rest Pacific.”

Angeline agrees: “This highlights the essence of the Pacific Way and how connections are created and sustained in the Pacific,” she says.