PIANGO hosted its Third Next Generation Leadership (NGL) Breakfast program – “Breakfast with David” for emerging leaders from civil society with the Kiribati High Commissioner to Fiji, His Excellency David Ateti Teaabo to welcome and celebrate his appointment not only as a relatively young diplomat.
Mr Teaabo, himself, a former civil society advocate and key member in the revival of the Kiribati Association of Non-Governmental Organisations in 2015, encouraged emerging Pacific youth leaders to pursue leadership roles using life wisdom lessons past down from elders to ensure inter-generational connection.
Speaking to about 30 student and civil society members at Café 30 in Suva, he shared his life experiences with key lessons including listening to and obeying his parents when they wanted him to pursue life in the clergy had helped shape his life.
“When I decided to listen, that was the start of my leadership career.”
“Listening is being open and embracing. It helps embrace decision making that are inclusive.
And whatever you do, you do it wholeheartedly.”
He said a strong foundation in relationships with people always starts with respect for elders and having an ear to listen.
While he became a man of the cloth, he went on to join civil society and went on into the foreign service, eventually taking on his appointment as a diplomat.
He said it was important as civil society advocates to be committed when pursuing one’s goals and doing good to communities.
“You’ll be surprised how someday, the returns will be beyond your imagination.”
Responding to his remarks, Fiji Council of Social Services executive director Vani Catanasiga said it was encouraging to take lessons from Mr Teaabo’s experience, adding it was a misconception that “you have to be perfect”.
“In the process of learning we tend to give up so easily. We appreciate such spaces that are created for us to learn from such experiences and forge ahead,” Ms Catanasiga said.
Fenton Lutunatabua, the Regional director of climate advocacy group 350.Org, said it was heartening and important to know how relationality with elders played a crucial role in maintaining a balance as the Pacific islands embraced the future.
PIANGO began developing the NGL program in 2016 with the objective of nurturing, mentoring and providing dialogue spaces for younger members to be schooled as the next generation of civil society leaders as part of rethinking and reshaping the Pacific towards 2030.
Its executive director, Emele Duituturaga, said PIANGO wanted to invest in the future and that means nurturing leadership.
She encouraged participants the future was in their hands to shape.
“You can be everything you want to be. This is your time, your generation to make a difference in the Pacific.”