Building Bridges and Cultural Connections: An Interview with Dr. Ruari Elkington on Collaborations and Experiences in Samoa

Building Bridges and Cultural Connections: An Interview with Dr. Ruari Elkington on Collaborations and Experiences in Samoa

In a recent interview, we had the pleasure of conversing with Dr. Ruari Elkington, Senior Lecturer in Creative Industries and Chief Investigator at QUT Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC). Dr. Elkington shared insights into his collaborative projects with ICDP, including his recent trip to Samoa, highlighting the positive impact of these partnerships.

Dr. Elkington’s journey with ICDP commenced in 2019 during a pivotal creative industries dialogue in Samoa. As an ambassador for the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), he seized the opportunity to forge connections and address the needs of Samoa’s burgeoning creative industries. This initial interaction laid the cornerstone for future collaborations, linking Dr. Elkington with local social enterprises and Australian collaborators, Sarah Mak and David Lloyd-Lewis from Folktale.

Understanding the significance of physical presence in these alliances, Dr. Elkington emphasises the enduring potency of face-to-face interactions. Despite the technological advancements, this mode of engagement aligns seamlessly with Samoa’s rich oral traditions and cultural fabric.

Dr. Elkington’s collaboration with the Global Shapers of Apia, notably through the Atamai Project, serves as a testament to the substantial impact born from collaborative alliances. By addressing the distinctive needs of Samoan youth, this partnership channelled its efforts towards crafting culturally apt resources for employment and bespoke problem-solving tailored to local exigencies.

Looking ahead, Dr. Elkington envisions a sustained backing for ICDP’s initiatives, championing their accomplishments and nurturing enduring connections between young Australian students and Samoa.

Dr. Elkington’s recent sojourn to Samoa with QUT students under the aegis of the New Colombo Plan (NCP) Study Tour proved pivotal. This immersive experience seamlessly melded cultural integration with collaborative endeavours alongside local partners such as the National University of Samoa. The students were immersed in Samoa’s diverse cultural tapestry, imbibing the significance of oral communication and dialogue.

Participating in an array of cultural activities, including the vibrant Fiafia night and attending church services, allowed Dr. Elkington and his students to embrace the ingrained values of Fa’a Samoa, celebrating familial bonds, respect, and oral traditions. Their encounter with the vibrant ‘ava ceremonies further deepened their appreciation for Samoan heritage.

Dr. Elkington underscores the enduring significance of nurturing relationships with Samoa. His unwavering commitment to fostering continuous engagement between Australia and Samoa through educational and cultural exchanges resonates profoundly. He extends heartfelt gratitude to individuals like Luna Rossa, Helen, and Ben, recognising their pivotal role in making this journey profoundly enriching.

Dr. Ruari Elkington’s experiences in Samoa are a testament to the boundless potential of international collaborations in transcending cultural barriers. His synergistic efforts with ICDP and deep engagements with Samoa’s cultural heritage underscore the transformative power of empathy, respect, and partnership. This interview stands as a testament to the value of cultural immersion, reinforcing the imperative for sustained dialogue and mutual reverence amidst diverse cultures. Dr. Elkington’s journey stands as an inspiration, urging us to embrace and revel in the tapestry of cultural diversity while fostering enduring connections across borders.