Planting the seed

“The working relationship between local officers and their expat advisors is often not a simple one. The language, lifestyle and cultural differences are some factors that often create barriers in the work place.”

This is according to Felix Magu, a Solomon Islands officer who works in the Ministry of Finance and Treasury who recently attended a half day workshop for Solomon Islanders and their expatriate counterparts.

Mr Magu said the workshop gave him the chance to learn about the need to express oneself and how to interact more effectively with advisers and other work colleagues.

“I think we’ve now got a much greater understanding of each other’s cultures. It also has given me confidence to approach advisers and have face to face discussions with them on work issues instead of communicating via email,” he said.

Organised by a RAMSI adviser working in the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, Joeena Simpson, the workshop was aimed at giving Solomon Islanders a better sense of what advisers are looking for from their counterparts and in turn, give advisors a chance to understand what limitations Solomon Islands Government officers face daily.

“To really express our feelings to advisers during conversations is what I see is lacking,” says Mr Magu. “It is very common among most of my work colleagues especially the ones who haven’t worked with expats before.”

“We’ll just keep quiet and pretend everything’s ok. But for me, that’s not the case anymore, I feel more motivated with working with my advisers, I hope the feeling is mutual among my work colleagues,” he said.

Ms Simpson, says that the workshop aimed to establish a deeper understanding between the roles played between advisers and their local counterparts at work and the possible solutions to shifting the perception that a lot of Solomon Islanders have that the advisers are actually managers.

“We want local counterparts to see advisers as bridges of opportunity for them to help improve their capacity,” Ms Simpson said.

Ms Simpson said she had got a lot of positive feedback from participants and would like to organise more workshops like this one.

It is simply as planting a seed, you nurture it until it’s grown and then leave it to live on its own,” she said.