News: Reverse Immersion

Ahisaun's director Mario presents a tais to Christine
In the last Palms Post (March 2009) Mario, the director of Ahisaun, gave us his thoughts on having Palms’ volunteers work with them and be a part of their community. In his letter he endorsed Palms’ volunteers as being a bridge between International donors and Ahisaun and he described Palms’ volunteers as being able to understand their needs, unlike other international people they have worked with.

But while this is a big compliment to those volunteers and Palms, how much better could one of Ahisaun’s own members and staff understand the foundation, what it stands for, and what its goals are. Taking this idea to heart, Palms has offered Ahisaun the opportunity for Angelino Bona Vides (who translated the letter in the March edition of the Palms Post) to come and spend three months in Sydney working with Palms staff in our office.

Mario is both very excited about this opportunity, both for Angelino and for Ahisaun as an organisation. In recent correspondence Mario outlined what he and Angelino think are the most important things that Angelino and Ahisaun will learn through Angelino’s time in Australia; first and foremost on Mario’s list is building an understanding of Australian culture.

Paulino and Angelino

Ahisaun has been partnering with Palms for five years, but none of their staff or members has yet had the opportunity to see where and in what context Palms operates. We feel that it is very important for our partner organisations to have a good understanding of where we are coming from, and welcome this opportunity to provide a deeper understanding of Australian culture to Angelino and Ahisaun. Through this understanding Mario and Angelino think that they will be in a much better position to develop and maintain relationships with international supporters.

In addition to these benefits, Mario highlighted the opportunity for Angelino to put his diploma in office management into practice in a different environment, giving him further experience in administration. Particularly they are interested in seeing the ways that things are done effectively in Australia, so that they can be adapted to the situation in East Timor.

We will welcome Angelino into Australia and the Palms’ office from mid-September to mid-December this year, and will look forward to keeping you updated about his experiences through his time here. As Angelino’s English improves he is also likely to contribute directly to keeping you informed.

Palms works cross-culturally to foster and build linkages between communities overseas and communities in Australia. You will also have read about Celina and Veronica’s experiences working at the Palms Fair Trade Café. This is the second time that Palms has sponsored a “reverse immersion”, and we here at the office think that our reverse immersion program is an important and fundamental step in bridging the gaps between cultures and experiences.

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The future of every community lies in capturing the passion, the imagination and the resources of its people. - Ernesto Sirolli