Sharon tells of her first trip overseas

Parents would often tell their children that education will take you to many places.

This proved true for Sharon Atuai, a young lass from Goilala, Central Province.

Sharon is a second year student at the University of Papua New Guinea,  and will be doing her third year in April - Bachelor in Economics.

Growing up in Laloki, a few kilometres outside Port Moresby along the Hiritano Highway, she struggled with the influence of settlement peer pressure and overcoming the psychological impact of divorced parents at a young age.

Her parents separated in 2004 when she was in grade two, leaving her to grow up with her mother.

The first in her family of four (including her step-brother), she persevered to set the pace for her younger siblings, passing through Marianville Secondary School and being accepted into UPNG, to her mother’s joy.

To further delight of her family, Sharon was among 35 students from UPNG who travelled to Japan, early this year, as part of the Jenesys program – an annual program sponsored by the Japanese Government.

Jenesys (Japan East-Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths) is a student exchange program initiated since 2007 where Pacific Island students travel to Japan to witness and learn first-hand their culture, traditions, history, people, economy, politics, society, diplomatic relations and so much more.

“I joined because I have always wanted to travel and learn about other countries apart from PNG,” she said, in a chat with Loop PNG Lifestyle .

Being her first international exposure, Sharon describes the trip as a once in a lifetime and a life changing experience for her.

In contrast to her still developing country, Japan, with its bright lights and sophisticated technologies, spoke to Sharon in a different way, in a language of the developed.

But this was not all that grasped the interest of the girl from Laloki, it was everything else about Japan.

“This travel has made me see many things differently such as being polite and respectful to others the way Japanese people do, dispose of rubbish in the right places and most of all the development of their country,” she said.

Sharon returned to the country on January 26, determined with a better understanding of life.

“Development comes with cost - in order to develop a country, you have to spend,” Sharon said. She hopes to make a difference and as an economic student, influence the country’s future in her own way.

“This was a good exposure and I’m glad I was part of the Jenesys 2016 group,” Sharon said.

She now aims to be a good role model and to encourage and motivate youths especially girls and children who are brought up by single parents that education is the key to success.

Pictures sourced: Sharon Atuai

Gloria Bauai