Chelcia Gomese

My Master’s programme has opened great opportunities for me such as undertaking an internship at the SPREP in Samoa.

Chelcia Gomese
Chelcia Gomese

Current study: Master of Environmental Studies

Pasifika heritage: Solomon Islands

Lulamu ko nyanyio kale nyo me saiva—We live on the knowledge of our ancestors.

My research uses traditional ecological knowledge to assist in resilient food production, with a particular focus on the village Soluve on the island Vella Lavella of the Solomon Islands. Climate change is a real and urgent issue affecting our Pacific Islands and I want to see how our communities, our knowledge and our resources can be optimised.

My Master’s programme has opened great opportunities for me such as undertaking as internship at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Samoa. During my time with SPREP, I felt connected to the whole Pacific region, which was a working environment I really appreciated.

When I saw that Victoria University of Wellington had programmes like the Wellington International Leadership Programme and Wellington Plus, I knew that my academic experience was going to be enriched with meeting and working with many different people. I’ve enjoyed networking with students from around the world and I’ve gained confidence in communicating with new people.

The workload is heavy so there’s not much room for a social life, but I’ve learnt to find a balance. I’ve made good friends with Pacific students who are doing similar work to me and going through the same homesickness. They’ve been great support for when I need to be pulled away from my computer for hot chocolate.

My mum’s passing was a moment in my life that I knew would either make me leave university or motivate me to stay. I stayed. I thought about all the sacrifices she and my father made to provide me with the opportunities in education and I wanted to honour that.

When I found out that I’d be receiving an International Student Excellence Award, the reality of it didn’t hit me until I was walking across the stage at the award ceremony. It was a very emotional moment when I glanced at the audience and realised that I was walking on the stage on behalf of my mother, my family who couldn’t make it, and my country. I’m grateful to my University family for being there for me, supporting and celebrating with me.

Some advice I have for niu students would be to get involved! Get to know people who come from a different country than you, with different lives than you. They will teach you things you’ve never experienced, and you can do the same.