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My Story: A life that progresses & dreams that clarify

Bernard Yegiora11 - BERNARD YEGIORA

I WAS BORN IN KUNDIAWA general hospital on the 29 September 1983. I believe the night I was born was just an ordinary night: there was nothing significant, meaning no bright moving stars or fireworks.

At the time of my birth my father was working as a senior business development officer with the Commerce Department in the Simbu provincial government. My mother was a high school teacher who taught home economics and science.

My father was of mixed origin. His father was from Harua in the Kubalia district of East Sepik and his mother was from the Nimai tribe who lived in Koge in between the Tabare, Kere, Dinga, Dom, and Gunagi people in Sinasina, Simbu.

My grandfather joined the police force during the colonial days. He was able to see the evolution of the force from the Khaki to the Zulu era and beyond. Under the colonial administration, he was part of the team led by the Kiaps who brought civilisation to the highlands of PNG.

That was where he met my grandmother and spent all his days moving around helping the Kiaps to build government stations in Sinasina, Chuave, Gumine, Gembogl, Kup, Minj and the Western Highlands where he retired and returned with his wife to her village.

Still living in his small hut next to a creek called Agle in the north of Kundiawa town is my grandfather, my mother’s father. He is from both the Kamenuku and Enduga tribes who share Kundiawa town with the Yongumugl people who live in the East. He was a former Aid Post Orderly who worked in different Health Centres from Kainantu to Minj.

My grandmother, God blessed her soul, came from the Gena and Naruku Tribes of Simbu. She died a few years ago and was laid to rest in the family cemetery. I was privileged to get her blessing before she died.

I have spent most of my life in Simbu, where I began my journey in education at preschool. From preschool I moved to Gon Primary School to do Grade 1. I stayed there for three years and moved to Grade 4 at Kundiawa International Primary School.

The International Education Agency private school was small but had a very interesting learning environment made up of both expatriate and national teachers. The five years I spent there was worth the money my parents paid because I absorbed different skills and knowledge which helped me to be where I am today.

I have fond memories of my teacher Anne Meredith who introduced me to Roald Dahl, CS Lewis, Ignatius Kilage and other great authors. She was British and had a strong English accent that brought the books to life. It was like watching an English movie.

Ms Meredith read a chapter a day from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Friendly Giant, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and many other wonderful books.

Kundiawa Lutheran Day High school was my next stop after I graduated from Grade 8. In Grade 9, I got to know other interesting people, who, in 200 when I was in Grade 10, decided to elect me as their class captain.

An average student, I graduated quietly and moved on to Grades 11 and 12 in Rosary Secondary School, Kondiu. In Grade 11, I decided I wanted to be a communication engineer. Around that period my father was into two-way radio communication. I saw this as an opportunity for me to find employment when I graduated.

Based on my marks in the first two terms I selected physics, chemistry, major mathematics (calculus), language and literature including my optional subject geography to prepare me to apply to the University of Technology in Lae to study communication engineering.

All those who majored in physics were placed together in one class of only 26 students, but the competition for ranking and grades was tough. My low grade in physics affected the choice I made when filling out my school leaver form. I decide to give geography a go, so I applied for the Bachelor of Arts foundation program at the University of PNG.

At UPNG in 2003, I instantly fell in love with political science and history. During the orientation week for Arts foundation students when I heard about political science and the possibility of serving PNG as an ambassador or high commissioner in a foreign country, I forgot about geography.

I spent the next few days dreaming about my life as a diplomat, driving around in a car with a diplomatic license plate and so on.

During registration, I got the form and without hesitation pencilled in political science as my major sequence of study. I spent six years studying political science, four years at undergraduate level and another two year as an honours student.

I did my honours research on the Chinese economic reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping arguing that the ‘fusing together of different ideologies’ model the Chinese followed was a way forward for a backward country like PNG.

In essence, I argued that the way forward for PNG was a guided form of democracy; the government needing to limit certain rights and liberties of citizens in order to achieve change.

During my time at UPNG from 2003 to 2008, I was privileged to be taught by people like Dr Alphonse Gelu, Dr Henry Okole, Dr Oruvu Sepoe, Professor Jan Kee Van Donge, Dr James Chin, Professor Allan Patience, Anthony Sil and Dixson Susub from the political science strand.

Others who helped with my knowledge in history and philosophy were Dr Peter Yearwood, Dr Anne Dickson-Waiko, William Ferea, Biyama Kanasa, Alphonse Shaun and Associate Professor August Kituai.

After completing my honours research, I sought a job and was given a part-time tutorial fellow position. This was not in any way related to my dream job, but over the years I came to understand the catch phrase ‘Land of the Unexpected’ and viewed the opportunity as a launching pad for me to gain experience and chase what I really wanted to do.

My honours research about the Chinese economic reforms influenced me to take my chance in applying for a Chinese government scholarship. I wanted to know more about China and the economic transformation that was happening. Also I had a wife and a son to look after, so I had to find ways to make myself employable and to move up the ladder.

After seven months of tutoring, I got a memorable call from the Chinese Embassy in PNG followed by the PNG Office of Higher Education. I cannot describe the emotions I felt that day.

My research and knowledge about China was on display as 15 of us competed in interviews for the five places in the scholarship program. I was able to make it into the top five and got the green light to depart for Jilin University in Changchun in the north-east of China.

While in China, I was asked by Mathew Yakai, who has a column called Asia Pacific Perspective in the Sunday Chronicle, to write some articles for him. His column provided an avenue for students studying in China to share their experiences.

As writing for his column was in line with my masters’ research on Chinese soft power, I grabbed the opportunity and used this public diplomacy tool to enlighten my fellow citizens about China and its intentions and how PNG could gain from China’s rise.

Upon my return from China after two years with a master’s degree in international politics, I was given the opportunity by Divine Word University to showcase my skills, talents and knowledge in their bid to build PNG’s human resources.

In 2012, a few months into my job as a junior lecturer in politics and international relations, I got a very interesting call from then Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ambassador, Michael Maue, who offered me a position as a foreign service officer in the Asia branch of the Political, Security and Treaties Division.

I weighed the offer but decided to stick with academia. I know it was my dream to serve my country as a diplomat, but I have learnt from life, and from my current mentor Associate Professor Jerome Semos, that there is more than one way to skin a rat”.

I accidentally came across PNG Attitude when I was doing my research in China and have since written comments and published articles thanks to Keith. I hope to continue my association with PNG Attitude in order to help myself and help other people elsewhere to know a little about my country every day.

Comments

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Vanessa Bulu

Thank you Mr Yegiora for sharing your life story which is very inspiring.

I'm fortunate to be taking the unit you are specialised in this year and in the years to come. Also, keen to learn as much as possible.

Russel Yangin

A wonderful story Bernard.

Jonathan Gariame

Hi, Mr Yegiora. That is a very interesting life story from the start from a young man like you. Keep moving and do what your conscience allows you to do to achieve better results in life. Congratulations.

Bernard Singu Yegiora

Thank you for the many positive comments.

Much appreciated.

Felix Baraka

Thank you Mr Yegiora for being my mentor. I realise what you've written would not fully define who you really are, but will help those that are hanging on the fence, standing on the crossroads and having self-pity, to unleash their potential and define who they really are.

Thank you Mr Yegiora to share your God-given gifts, as a blessing to those that think they cannot make it through in life.

Joshua Lus

I always read your articles in the Sunday Chronicle during your time in China but I missed this very, very interesting "My Story".

Dreams and achievement is a reflection of self discipline.

You are an achiever and most of all you are a role model to those of us (friends & students) who know you.

I am inspired, Bernard. Thank you for sharing your story.

Monica Jean George

There are moments when fulfilling one's dream may be heart throbbing.

There are times when no words cannot express the joy and ache life causes.

Life is decision, a yes or a no.

I may not be very skilled in writing but I cannot deny the fact that C S Lewis is one of the authors I enjoy - he writes masterpieces.

The last paragraph is quite touching and very decisive.

William Gende

Dear Mr Yegoria - That's very motivating and inspirational for students like us.

The article was about your personal life but can motivate countless of us to look up on you as our role model on our unknown journey in education.

Hope reading more from you as one of your students. Thanks and God bless.

Vero Kaupa

Thankyou Mr Yegiora.Your article is very inspirational and intresting. It's very encouraging and as a student of DWU I am very happy to have you as my mentor/facilitator in taking communication arts.

Also I am very pleased with your parents for supporting you and bringing you this far. May the God Lord continues to bless you and your family.

Bernard Yegiora

Thank for those who commented.

Learning is a two way process, I am also learning from you all.

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin

Mr Yegiora, you have carried on the legacy left behind by your grandfather as an academic now.

May the young ones you educate in DWU continue to brighten PNG in all spheres of life. Wakai wo.


Sedrick Moka

Thanks Mr Yegiora. That was an inspiring short story from a person who has well experienced part of his life
.
Life not only gives you what you expect but would sometimes give you what you don't expect, as the saying goes, "expect the unexpected"
.
Mr Yegiora, your inspiring testimony is a stepping stone to continuing students like us, an encouragement to the dropouts and could be a reflection to those that have come through such life experiences.

You could take some time to thank the Lord for bringing you this far and I know he has more for you in life.

And we could learn from your experience that if the Lord could do such mysterious things in your life then there's no doubt he could do the same to us all.

Jerilee Diaram

This article is an eye opener for many students and audiences out there who are yet to achieve their goals.

It is an inspiring and encouraging article. Our dreams and goals are influenced by our everyday experiences.

Mr Yegiora's story is a challenge for me as a student. Thanks Mr Yegiora for sharing your story, it will help and encourage many readers.

I am priviliged to have Mr Yegiora as my facilitator in Communication Skills, with such experiences his lectures are interesting.

Kaludia Pirit

Bernard, I think you are really fortunate to have good parents who have sucessfully brought you up to where you are now. Hope you always thank God for that.

I am very impressed with your story and privileged to have as my mentor for communication skills this year. You are an understandable person.

Thankyou for your encouraging article and I hope you will publish more.

Jocabeth Yuasi

This is an inspiring and encouraging article. There are different ways of achieving your goal. Our plans and dreams change along the way and are influenced by what we come accross in life.

I am priviledged to have Mr Yegiora as my facilitator in Communication Arts. With his experience, his lectures are interesting. I am learning alot from his lectures. He is a good role model. Thank you Mr Yegiora for sharing your story.

Annsli Kabekabe

As a student, studying Year 1 PNG Studies at DWU, I am privileged to have Mr Yegiora to be my facilitator in Communication Skills.

Through Mr Yegiora I have learnt so much in the first half of semester one and I am looking forward to the second half of the semester.

With his experience, he has shared the most interesting and wonderful lectures. After reading his excellent article, I at least have a fair knowlege about my facilitator.

The article is an eye opener for me in terms of my long term and short term goals as a student. It has made me think of my career path and dreams. A very encourging article.

Whoever has come across this article will agree with me that Papua New Guinea has an intelligent citizen making changes in the lives of those he has come across.

Rozabelle Hota

I've heard the phrase you mentioned about "there's not only one way to skin a cat". My personal development teacher always told us this quote during my secondary years.

I myself kind of believe in this because looking back to the persons today with big tags; most did not reach up following the same way rather they take different means before getting up there.

Thanks Mr Yegiora for sharing your nice story. It encourages those who have difficulties making choices in what to study and how to go about excelling in school.

Thanks for reminding us that there are many ways to achieve our goal and dreams.

Tony Morisause

Hi Bernard, I am impressed with your story. It is a story that keeps me motivated. Your determination and focus in achieving a high standard is something young Papua New Guineans should strive for.

Bernard Yegiora

Once again thank you all for the comments.

Robert, I remember you and your wife Naomi with your girls.

My parents were happy when I told them about your comment on PNG Attitude. Likewise, they wish you and your family success in your future endeavors.

Nathan Gabara

Every decision you make will determine the future of you and also your family, so don't depend on others to make it for you.

It has been you and your perents that pushed you from elementary until you finished college.

One thing to take in to account is to follow your heart not what you always dream of.

Francis Nii

An interesting and successful life journey Bernard. You are still young and I believe one day your ultimate dream will be fulfilled. Keep striving.

Robert Puyu

Hello Bernard - Wonderful to read your journey. My family and I lived in Bangladesh over the last 18 years and knew your family quite well.

In fact we enjoyed our visits to your home in Kundiawa. Please convey our love to your wonderful mom and dad.

May you continue the great work and influence.

Leonard Roka

Best life story, my friend and lecturer.

It's fun and sad reading because, you know, I am his student here in DWU since 2012.

But Bernard is 3 or 4 years younger than me. I was born on 25 July 1979 and he came in on 29 September 1983.

Having gone through the conflict on my island, together we entered UPNG in 2003. I walked out in 2004. We shared some of these fine UPNG lecturers.

But here I am, a bighead Bougainvillean, still a student.

Thanks all.

Steve Gallagher

Yeah! Very interesting and inpiring one.

Phil Fitzpatrick

Very enjoyable Bernard and great to know more about you.

All these stories are really inspiring and, as David Wall says, go a long way towards mollifying some of us grumpy old expatriates.

I hope there are more to come.

Maybe something can be done with them as a collection later?

Neil Yamelu

Thanks Benard for the wonderful story you wrote. It's kind of an interesting and inspiring one.

It really inspired me in terms of reaching my future dreams because the way you got through was not that easy. Let's thank god that he made everything possible.

Bernard Yegiora

Thank you everyone for the many positive comments.

Life is truly a wonderful journey full of ups and downs.

We learn from our mistakes in order to help us move forward.

Nevegapa Abeya Sam

Thanks Bernard for a wonderful life story. As a student, I find it interesting to read this kind of article. Just by reading it, I was convinced and I learnt something.

I hope and believe that whoever comes across this article will have the same feeling I have.

Individual students have different goals to achieve. There are different ways that we can go in order to reach our goals.

Your life story encourages me to know that there are different ways that can be taken to achieve my goals.

I hope and believe this article will influence a lot of students in PNG. Thanks Bernard!

David Wall

Bernard, thanks so much for your piece: "My Story...".

With people like you in PNG, I get the feeling that some of my darker thoughts about PNG's future from time-to-time are not justified.

Corney K Alone

Interesting story, Bernard. Thanks for giving us this opportunity to know about you a little more.

You may be multiplying a lot of PNGean diplomats (with your current role) with better understanding of the Chinese culture and their effectiveness of their soft power.

Similarly, your association with SWEP and PNG Attitude's narratives and commentaries should also augur well for your students- (whom you have wisely introduced as part of their assessment) to be well rounded and informed citizens of the country.

Keep writing/reading, young man. The nation needs more individuals like you to shape the national conversation and document the nation's art for the youngsters who will come on the scene after we have given way.

John Fowke

Mate, so happy to read this. Our recent brief exchange of emails showed me an interesting and probably idealistic man of high intelligence and solid academic background, but now I have much more of Bernard Y in my mind, and I warn you that there are more emails to follow!

Also I second all of that which Mrs Short says. I think that perhaps the expat ex-chalkies as a group within the ex-PNG colonial diaspora are those who get real satisfaction and even joy when they contemplate the results of their efforts, despite their living within the shadows of the present era of social stress.

The great positive stories which are coming to the surface on this blog from sometime students are witness to their efforts.

Onya, mate, and may you continue at full strength!

Mrs Barbara Short

What an interesting life story, and so well written. Your story fits well into the last 30 years of world history.

My generation of "European" Australians went back to Europe to understand our roots. You know your roots and have learnt a lot in China to help you to understand the future.

Australians are now trying to understand the new role that the Chinese are starting to play in our country. We slowly realised we had to learnt to integrate with the countries of Asia to survive economically in the current world.

We have been very fortunate and probably wise in the way we have run our country. Look at the problems that the European countries are facing today.

But we know that when dealing with Asia we have a lot to learn about their roots and their culture. I feel people like you can help us!

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