The value of the Pacific Connect Community
I began drafting this article as I have done on previous occasions by summarising ICDP’s and Pacific Connect’s activities and achievements for 2021. I mean, why would I not want to espouse the virtues of a program that has endured in spite of the continued challenges of the pandemic to personal lives, businesses and communities in Australia and the Pacific? Then it occurred to me that I was repeating what we have already communicated via a plethora of reports, social media, and other updates throughout the year. Statistics and outcomes serve a purpose and are important when it comes to programs that are required to perpetually demonstrate their impact against a set of objectives and to continually seek funding to function – that is the operational reality. What isn’t always measurable and valued in the wash up of program delivery, and particularly in the case of Pacific Connect, is the strength and positive influence of community. I searched the meaning of ‘community’ and found what closely resembles a reflection of our Pacific Connect Community in Wikipedia. Whilst every academic institution rejects the accuracy and unreliability of Wikipedia as a source, I believe in this instance it has captured the essence of our Community. It says – ‘a community is a social unit with commonality such as norms, religion, values, customs, or identity. Communities may share a sense of place situated in a given geographical area or in virtual space through communication platforms.’
Certainly, our values align – we want to build connections, we want to exchange ideas and expertise, and we want to empower Pacific peoples, business and communities and for the Pacific as a whole to thrive. We share a sense of place and responsibility in the Pacific region even though we differ in many ways. Our difference brings learnings and richness to conversations, collaborations and partnerships. We have shared a virtual space over the past two years out of necessity but where we once thought that face-to-face was the only way to build trust and relationships we have endured and grown and succeeded as individuals and as a community.
As a community we listen to each other, and to hear that you feel safe and connected and that many of you have been able to reach your goals through the support of the Pacific Connect Community is the true essence of community. To be part of something that is greater than ourselves whilst also feeling empowered to influence it and take responsibility for what happens is the true essence of community. There are many quotes that I can take from the feedback we receive but there is one from this year that perfectly sums up who we are: “Thanking you in advance to you and your group for allowing me to participate, as this is my first time to take part in such a beautiful and a very interesting event that enlightened my future career and brings a brighter world to myself and my family.” This is the true essence of community.
Whilst it is impossible to single out any one person to attribute praise for the sustainability of our Community in 2021, I cannot underestimate the importance of our Hub Coordinators who have helped connect you, inspire you and encourage you to be brave, to ask and to offer. Without their time and effort over the past year we would not have been able to build and strengthen our Community. I must also acknowledge our long list of dialogue co-facilitators and presenters, Project Leads/Team Members, PCC mentors and advisors for their valuable in-kind support and for continuing to ‘lean in’ when we need you. To our wonderful group of workshop deliverers from Australia and the Pacific who offer many extra hours of assistance due to their passion and drive to assist Community members. As a result you are now more confident on social media, you can be a mentor or seek a mentor, can launch your business idea, can build a website or pursue a coding career or apply coding in your business, can apply Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality technology in your business or showcase culture in a different way, the list goes on and the blank canvas for 2022 is ready for more colour and stories with you as the artist. Thank you also to the ICDP Board, Strategic Advisors and Ambassadors for continuing to provide the strong foundation on which we can confidently work to deliver Pacific Connect and the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for backing this ‘little program.’
I am so very proud to go to work each day knowing that Simone, Benjamin, Olga and Ken are working with the same energy and passion, and that we are all working with you to make a small but not insubstantial difference to a brighter world. I would like to take the opportunity to wish our wonderful Community a very safe and happy holiday break and we look forward to continuing the journey with you in 2022.