Saturday, November 6, 2010

Comment by Dr Jon Tikivanotau M. Jonassen

A comment about, “Employment and career possibilities for Pacific studies graduates.” I am conscious that I am not a recruiting officer, nor am I a representative of an institution currently in search of a Pacific studies graduate to hire. My remarks are merely a humble attempt to contribute to this discourse and to demonstrate by personal experience, that a graduate of Pacific Islands’ studies is just as good as a graduate of any other major. They have just as much potential to contribute to society and communities. And have just as much opportunity to pursue a variety of career options.  At the end of the day, it is the person’s personal attributes and ambitions, not the degree that really makes the difference. Some revealing overview:

Firstly, in general no major or degree guarantees’ you a job.
Secondly, many if not most people who acquire especially an undergraduate degree, at some point end up working in an area outside of their major.
Thirdly, the general comprehensive approach of Pacific studies that crosses many disciplines, gives a Pacific studies graduate a great and unique knowledge base.
I would even assert that if a person intends to live or work in a Pacific based, interested, or related, area or institution, a Pacific studies focus gives him or her, an immense advantage. Knowledge of the pacific: a region that covers a major part of the earth, an expanse that contains so much wealth in its traditions, oceans, seabed and atmosphere, is wisdom that is precious even if is not being openly recognized.
In addition to general opportunities in education as teachers and instructors, in government as public servants, or in the private sector as dynamic decision-makers, there are specific job areas that mention the Pacific. Every serious foreign affairs institution in Asia, Pacific, Pacific Rim and several European states has a Pacific desk of sorts. The New Zealand government has a Pacific Islands department. And other governments have a Pacific specialized establishment to cater for internal Pacific populations or for interactions with the Pacific.
When I graduated with a Masters degree in Pacific Island’s studies in 1983, it was that qualification that landed me my job in the Ministry of Planning and External Affairs. It also was partially that background that helped me in establishing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then to become the Director of Programs for the South Pacific Commission. My MA Pacific major even helped in my role as the first Cook Islands Secretary of the Ministry of Cultural Development. And to a large extent this underlying influence continued in my life career to other jobs. As I reminisce my study experience in the University of Hawai‘i’s Pacific Islands program, I am sincerely appreciative of the many who have contributed toward a better appreciation of Pacific studies. Among those, I particularly appreciate Dr Bob Kiste, Dr Mike Hamnett, Dr Leonard Mason, Dr Norman Meller, and others. Mahalo.

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