What do you do?

I am responsible for the volunteer programme in Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu. This involves developing the strategic direction for each of the country programmes, working with local organisations to identify assignments for volunteers and then supporting volunteers when they are on assignment. I am New Zealand based, so travel frequently.

What is the best thing about working with VSA?

I’ve worked with VSA both as volunteer and Programme Manager for more than 15 years. I love VSA’s focus of New Zealanders working alongside our Pacific neighbours to support their own development. It’s development that works. Working with VSA also provides the unique and privileged experience of having entrance into communities and cultures from a non-tourist perspective. The experience can be life changing with the learning going both ways for sure!

What is a book, movie or piece of music that you’d recommend to someone who wants to get a flavour of the Pacific?

The documentary ‘There Once Was an Island’ by New Zealand filmmaker Briar March. The documentary highlights the crisis that an Island community is confronted with as they face the effects of climate change on sea levels. It reveals not only the physical challenges of rising sea levels, but the prospect of a community having to move from their land - which is the heart of their culture and identity. This is a very real scenario for many communities and countries in the Pacific.

web staff diane thorne george