An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism
IT is the common dream of many students privileged to take their places in the PNG Studies and International Relations Department at Divine Word University to one glorious day undertake foreign service training.
The inspiration was built up by insights derived from our international relations studies and the challenging advice from lecturer Samuel Roth, the man described by student Maria Dolores Biaun as “a walking, talking IR dictionary.
Over the course of seven years, the humble and dedicated Samuel Roth successfully established a golden bridge between his academic department and the Department of Foreign Affairs through the Foreign Affairs Award.
This Award is given to students scoring the highest marks in international relations units and getting into the Department is a dream of most final year students.
In 2014, Clare Kliawi, the fourth recipient of the Foreign Affairs Award, walked away with a sweet smile from the DWU graduation across the golden bridge into the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Then in May 2014, the Department of Foreign Affairs was about to conduct interviews for applicants for the Foreign Service Training Program.
Those of us who sent in our applications had sleepless nights and restless days, dreaming about whether we would be successful or not. We kept eyes fixed on our mobile phones to see if a landline number might call.
On one blessed day we got our dream call to take part in the interview process. Michelle Lau, Lucy Efi and I walked into the interview room and we met Clare Kliawi who was already there.
We were all part of the big family of the international relations department at DWU and we hoped to give our best and become a part of the foreign affairs program.
After the interview we all waited impatiently for the result. God must have read our minds and at different locations, different times but on the same day the three of us got a call telling us we’d been successful and would be invited to be part of the Foreign Service Training Program.
What a joyous moment as we embraced the feeling and excitement of significant accomplishment.
On the first day of our induction into the Foreign Service Training Program, we went early to the office. After two weeks of induction, we had a clear idea about the Department’s structure and had also listened to some prominent people telling of their experiences in the foreign service.
As the month of August flew in, it brought the moment that marked the start of our career path. That was when we flew to Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, to take the first two modules of the 20 modules in the Foreign Service Training Program.
Apart from Efi, this memorable flight was the first international flight for Kliawi, Lau and me. The three week program at Victoria University enhanced our knowledge in communication skills and information technology.
The exciting first time experience in attending a formal diplomatic dinner was amazing and unforgettable for us all. The experience of living in the quiet, peaceful and trouble-free city known as ‘windy Wellington’ was most enjoyable.
We left for New Zealand in late August and returned on 21 September so were able to celebrate Papua New Guinea’s Independence Day in a foreign land. We were thankful to the PNG High Commissioner in New Zealand for making possible our trip to Lincoln University in Christchurch to celebrate that 39th independence anniversary.
On 21 September, as the misty white snow started to pour like glitter on the pine trees, the four of us, 26 other foreign service trainees and our two facilitators took a bus to the international airport and boarded a plane for Brisbane and the Land of the Unexpected.
Through the clear glass of Jackson’s International Airport VIP lounge, we got a glimpse of Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary, William Dihm, his wife and some staff from the department who were there to welcome us.
Before 2015 ends, we will have completed our foreign service training program. It is very exciting and also challenging.
It is a dream comes true for us, the first four DWU graduates, to be part of this intensive program. And we know that it is also a dream come true for Samuel Roth in seeing his students being part of this distinctive program.