Uong Jameson Yalap

Uong Jameson Yalap

Sustainable Development Assistant, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Koror, Palau
Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a minor in Social Sciences

He loves being part of a team that is working towards a common purpose, says Uong Jameson Yalap, who came to AUT as an international student from Palau and now works for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

“The government of Palau, along with the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Samoa, will present its second Voluntary National Review at the High-Level Political Forum at the UN headquarters in New York this year to share experiences, successes, challenges and lessons learnt in accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. These reviews aim to strengthen governmental policies and institutions while also mobilising support from multi-stakeholders and fostering partnerships to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“I’m the first National United Nations Volunteer Specialist in Palau and am responsible for tracking Palau's progress towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, specifically providing data support to line ministries in creating their indicator sets for their respective goals. I love that I'm learning so much – learning about the UN's complex structure and its vital work advancing sustainable development across the Asia-Pacific region.”

He is proud of where he is in his career.

“It has been rewarding collaborating with and learning from my esteemed colleagues, not just here in Palau, but also from the UN Multi-Country Office Micronesia, Fiji and the regional headquarters in Bangkok. I’m proud of the vital work I’m doing to contribute to Palau's sustainable development ambitions, and I'm proud to be an AUT graduate and Manaaki scholar. I owe it all to the immense support of my family, friends, and colleagues here in Palau and New Zealand, as well as the guidance and blessings of the Almighty God.”

A rewarding experience
His AUT degree broadened his worldview, Uong says.

“Growing up, I developed a fascination for the world and its cultures, languages and customs. As I grew older, I wanted to be able to travel the globe and experience it first-hand. After high school and much research, I realised that pursuing a degree in international studies would allow me to gain knowledge of the world and all its wonder.

“My studies offered me a chance to explore diverse cultures and uncover parallels with my own. I was fortunate to make many international friends, and deeply grateful to be part of the incredible AUT Manaaki scholars community. Learning te reo, and Māori culture and history was one of the highlights of my AUT and Aotearoa journey. What I learned through my studies also helped me tremendously in my final-year workplace experience. Since my placement involved a great deal of grant writing to international and regional development organisations and Palau’s diplomatic allies, my degree has proven very useful.”

There was one lecturer who made a particularly strong impression on him.

“Associate Professor Camille Nakhid was one of the inspiring people I met at AUT. I had the privilege of enrolling in her course Diversity, Power and Discrimination. Throughout the course, I came to understand how discrimination is embedded within legal frameworks and social institutions, such as universities, courts, hospitals, housing and other parts of society, to disadvantage Māori, Pacific and other marginalised groups socially, economically and politically. Camille inspired me to speak up about social issues rather than remain silent. As a result, I’ve become much more conscious of racial and social injustices and how important it is to speak out against them.”

Advice for other international students
Uong wouldn’t hesitate to recommend studying at AUT to other international students, especially Palauans. He says that AUT could use more Pacific representation from Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands to foster closer relationships and better understanding between the North and South Pacific.

“Studying abroad can be an enriching and transformational experience. Those seeking a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies will find AUT an excellent option for international students, especially from Palau. Situated in the picturesque city of Auckland in New Zealand, AUT provides its students with state-of-the-art resources and a vibrant, friendly community.”

There’s plenty of support available for students, he adds.

“International students can expect a personalised approach where esteemed lecturers and advisors are at hand to help them throughout their AUT journey with the highest level of support.

“For example, the pandemic was difficult for all of us, but I wasn’t alone in this struggle. The AUT scholarships team, my doctors, my counsellor, Reverend Linda Hope, my compassionate lecturers, Student Hub advisors, my close friends, and my family in Palau provided me with tremendous motivational support. I was the only Palauan student at AUT and had no family in New Zealand. Still, the support from everyone helped me endure the lockdowns and cushioned my challenging academic journey.”