WIL for Master of International Development student in Fiji | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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WIL for Master of International Development student in Fiji

Sarra Harrison’s internship experience with ACPIR as part of her UniSC Master of International Development studies led her to reassess her career goals and area of focus. With a passion for South-East Asia after having lived and studied there previously, Sarra had assumed that’s where she’d work, but she has now broadened her horizons to working in the Pacific Islands.

Sarra travelled to Fiji for a week in 2022 to assist her ACPIR Supervisor, Dr Daniela (Dani) Medina Hidalgo, with initial scoping work and relationship building for the potential development of communities of practice and climate resilience research hubs in the Pacific region. This involved establishing a collaborative relationship with a local NGO - Community Centred Conservation (C3) - and visiting some of the villages they support through their conservation projects. The visit to the communities and projects C3 has been working with highlighted the value of locally-led sustainable projects that support longevity and are aligned with community goals to protect the environment and sustainable livelihoods.

Following the trip, Sarra contributed to further research and strategy development on community engagement, drafting an MOU with C3, writing up a recommendations report, and presenting the recommendations to representatives from ACPIR, UniSC Global Engagement and the project funding body ACIAR (the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research) 

Here Sarra shares more on her experience in Fiji and as an ACPIR intern.

“My time in Fiji reminded me how important it is to slow down and take the time to listen and learn from people… Students or researchers or anyone can come into a village with a thought in mind about what they’re going to do, but you know, no matter what your expertise or intentions, it’s ultimately about just sitting there, having a yarn, remaining flexible and building those respectful relationships.”

“Before I was kind of looking at the macro level and the high-level things that will trickle down into the communities, but I’ve realised I still need to have that experience at the community level - connecting, figuring out what the issues and challenges are and how we can best support communities - before then moving up to the policy-influencing level.”