Mellita took a trip to the Solomon Islands for a teacher education program where she met Esther who completely transformed her life.
Mellita is a lecturer in Science Education. Her involvement in overseas teaching and learning experiences began in 2010 when she led a small group of six pre-service teachers on a 4-week teaching practicum in the Solomon Islands.
Ten years later the program, which runs for the month of November every year, has grown to 20 pre-service teachers, three university staff members and two schools in Solomon Islands. It is a program close to Mellita's heart, and her work in the space has led to a number of other international engagements including writing the teacher education program for the Pacific Region through UNESCO, working in Fiji and Kiribati with students and teachers, and recently, an appointment as the coordinator for international community engagement at her university.
Mellita is in the process of starting up a Foundation - the Esther Education Foundation - which will be a charity to raise money to support the education of women and girls in Solomon Islands. As the name suggests, meeting Esther, hearing her story and sharing her journey has inspired the creation of this foundation.
When coming home...
Emotions Mellita faced - Feelings of guilt, sadness and despair - how do you help people in poverty. This became an important part of her life.
What changed for Mellita - Having a different perspective on a place and judging a society based on first experience which can be so miss placed. Changed the ways she lived, dietary changes and changes within her family. She changed her family gift giving at Christmas and instead one member of each family shares the story of the charity they selected and why they chose it.
How Mellita used her mindset - She changed personally and professionally and now teaches and shares the stories she has learned in her lectures. She ensures not to preach to other people and understands her students are on their own journey. She has become an activist for education, gender issues, climate change and human rights.
3 Lessons learned from travel and reverse culture shock
The world outside of our own home is an incredibly rich one so take any opportunity to experience and be open to the learnings.
Look at things without judgement and if you do have judgement look to see if there is another way to look at it.
Message for others after returning home - Be kind, reflect on your own life and be equitable and fair.