Eseta Le'au: How to prepare for a life changing experience*

This trip represents a series of ‘firsts’ for me. The first time I go on a long-haul flight. The first time I will need to catch two planes to get to where I’m going. The first time I will need to budget my money without the security net of someone bailing me out (ironic, since we will be going to the IMF – created to bail out economies). The first time I experience the dreaded ‘transit’. The first time I venture away from the Pacific. 

We will be around 8,619 miles away from Aotearoa! I’ll be in a country which isn’t only surrounded by the Pacific Ocean but also the North Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to name a few. As one of my cousins said in an ad a while back, it won’t be like we can “jump on the bus and go” back home. 

Given this, I am preparing in the best way I know how: asking everyone and anyone I can and of course consulting the most widely used teachers of our time Google and YouTube. 

While preparing for the ‘easier’ firsts such as ways to pack, methods to have money on hand and how to prepare for a long-haul flight, this has been the best way. Shout out to my friends and family, who have gone to great lengths to help me prepare! From useful tips like “make sure you stay hydrated” on the long-haul flight right through to those giving me suitcases, bags and other useful stuff for the flight. It turns out that it doesn’t only take a village to raise a child, but also one to send them away (lol). 

Yet, in terms of mentally preparing for what I’ve been told is an experience that “will change my life forever” the internet just does not cut it. Going to the training weekend was a taster of just how much we will be challenged. I left with more questions than answers. I also felt extremely overwhelmed – I had walked in with pre-conceived ideas of the World Bank and IMF but walked out realising the world is not quite as black and white as I believed. Structural inequities within these institutions do not automatically relate to individual motives. How do I deal with these types of ‘lessons’ which will be super frequent in this kind of environment? 

Luckily, last week I was at the Social Enterprise World Forum in Christchurch (shout out to Pacific Business Trust!). The biggest lesson I walked away with was from Helianti Hilman, founder of Javara. Google her, she’s amazing! Anyway, she said the best way she dealt with the frequent problems she faced was by learning to love problems. By learning to love problems, you start to see opportunities instead of hopelessness. 

So, this is the insight I carry with me as this journey unfolds. It will help me to process seeing countries enjoying the benefits of ‘globalisation’ but being unwilling to take up the responsibility of bearing the costs of such an ideal. I am also fully aware that I will be entering a country which may be surrounded by various oceans but whose core leadership is unwilling to allow the benefits flow out beyond its borders or even within its borders to certain citizens. This is the same country that has the biggest say at the World Bank as the largest shareholder. Is this the benchmark for global citizens?

But I must learn to love problems and see the hope that still exists despite such inequity. Failing to do so is not an option. Being privileged with this opportunity, I have the responsibility to hope and work towards building a different future, especially for those who need hope most. 

*Disclaimer: This advice is only 100% valid for people whose personal circumstances and history mirror mine and who have identical DNA sequences and fingerprints to me. 

All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences.

Posted on September 30, 2017 and filed under World Bank / IMF 2017.