After a hiatus of more than two years, Southern Institute of Technology (SIT), in collaboration with Pacific Island Advisory & Charitable Trust (PIACT), has brought their Pasifika Open Night back, providing the local Pasifika community with an event to inform them on education and training opportunities, and to meet together communally again.
SIT Pasifika Liaison, Sam Sala, says the open night is all about giving young Pacific Island students possibilities for their future, to show them the choices available for them at SIT.
In his role Mr Sala supports Pasifika students with course advice, study issues, cultural event organisation, and connecting them with their local cultural communities.
He emphasised the event could assist students into a broader range of qualifications, by getting them to think outside the typical options. “It’s to open their minds up to a wider range of choices to enhance their career opportunities,” he said, adding, “It’s not just for school leavers, someone might be in their twenties and looking for a new career – that’s where SIT comes in.”
Aside from course options, future students can gain information on the support provided by SIT for Pasifika students. “This gives them the opportunity to see the level of support available,” said Mr Sala, “It’s about giving each student the best chance to succeed in their studies.”
This time around, Mr Sala said they were hoping to see younger Pacific Island students - those still at school - who were undecided on what they were going to study at tertiary level, but also, the open night facilitated a fundamental purpose for the community as a whole, to reconnect and to meet and greet each other. “There are a lot of Pacific Islanders in Invercargill, and it’s really important to be together, to talk to each other and support and encourage one another.”
He noted that two years under Covid restrictions had in general, created a distance between Pacific Island people. “Pacific Island culture is all about family and that doesn’t necessarily mean immediate family and relatives, it can mean your people and your community.” He believed Pacific Islanders have felt a sense of loss due to the separation of family and lack of opportunities for communal gatherings. The open night will allow the coming together of the community, which is an integral part of Pasifika culture, Mr Sala added. There will be entertainment and light refreshments on the night.
SIT & PIACT Pasifika Open Night will be held on Thursday, September 1st, at PIACT Hall, 135 Bowmont Street, Invercargill, 5.30 – 7.30pm.