NOPE!

No my dear readers, I have not forgotten you nor have I abandoned writing. I’m just taking my time to settle back into the ‘real world’.

I do feel as though it is time for an insightful post. For the last little while, I have told you about the interesting days I’ve had but not really discussed what goes on in the space between my eyes. ha ha ha. Now that my time in Kiribati has ended, I wonder what legacy I have left behind and whether it has been a mutual learning experience. Having discussed this with my staff, they assure me they are going to miss me. The more important question though is whether they will continue to smile at work and continue to function as well as they are at the moment. We have all certainly learned the importance of team building and cohesiveness and the art of taking breaks to enhance productivity. We’ve together learned the art of brainstorming and working together to solve problems and discovered ways to deal with some of the complex planning issues faced by Tarawa. Essential skills have been exchanged and if I have taught, I have learned much more in the process.

As most of you would agree, planning in the Pacific region is a whole different kettle of tea compared to back home. The complexities and simplicity of the system needs one to be creative and be able to think laterally. It requires a sophisticated amount of relationship building which is integral in all other places I have worked at but more so in this context. I think I’ve enjoyed that part of the role the most. People are interesting, people are complex, people are like a puzzle, a game, an intriguing crossword. That I have enjoyed the most. Self-discovery too. Working here has re-inforced what I know and pushed me to learn a lot more.

Working as a volunteer has the advantage of time. Time which is necessary when it comes to building trust. It took weeks of team building activities, random jokes, questions and discussions and built the trust that lead to a successful knowledge exchange. It feels like I was able to forge these life long connections and that has only been possible because there was time to bond which in the Pacific is essential it seems. People I’ve worked with have surprised me with their level of understanding and willingness to learn. It has been a pleasure to be involved in this journey of theirs.

I will not say that the year has been without hiccups. Oh yes, there have been hiccups and pitfalls, sickness and madness which was all part of the process! This experience has been amazing and now I’m ready for the next chapter in the life of Shifani. So life, beware, here I come. Ha ha ha.

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