(Source: Waikato Times)
Waikato University student Akanisi Nabalarua could soon be swapping stories at the water cooler with Helen Clark.
"You never know, it could happen," the 25-year-old law and management student said ahead of a two-month stint at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Miss Nabalarua has scored an internship at the Rule of Law Unit, where she will work on issues such as human rights, electoral reform, armed conflicts and criminal justice.
“It’s the very work I’m interested in doing once I finish my degree. There’s more to law than standing in a court room,” said the Kadavu lass.
"I can't find the words to encapsulate how excited I am," Miss Nabalarua said. "You think these kinds of things are so out of reach, but it is in your reach."
The final year student, who has wanted to be a lawyer since she was 10, spent all night studying before her phone interview with the UN.
"It was 7.30am in the morning and I was testing myself when the phone rang. I was nervous."
The next day she was told she had got the internship.
She believed it was her upbringing in Fiji that tipped the balance in her favour. "Fijian kids my age have been through four coups in their lifetime that's four more than anyone should."
Born in Fiji, Miss Nabalarua moved to Australia, before finally settling in New Zealand. She spent the end of last year in Belgium on exchange.
Working for the UN was her ultimate job.
"I got interested in them after I did a paper on public international law and human rights. I want to learn as much as I can while I'm there, because it's different than learning from a book."
Miss Nabalarua attended primary school in Suva and Canberra where her mother was studying and her secondary schooling at Auckland’s Wesley College. Her mother, Dr Eci Nabalarua, who previously taught at Waikato, is now Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) at the University of the South Pacific.
“My parents both spent time studying in England and encouraged me to travel and explore. In Belgium I spent hours and hours exploring World War One history. It captured me. It was like doing my own Amazing Race. I wasn’t born in New Zealand but to walk in the footsteps of our soldiers and appreciate what they went through was an amazing experience,” the young woman shared.
The position is unpaid and Miss Nabalarua will have to pay for her own airfares and living expenses, but she said the opportunity was too good to pass up.
She was now seeking help with funding the trip and had applied for several scholarships.
But Miss Nabalarua is no stranger to working hard having to work while studying to support her teenage sister after her mother returned to Fiji to work four years ago.
She did any odd job she could, while her sister at the time 15 got a part-time job at a law firm after school."It was hard, but good. We became a lot closer. But it was only possible with the support of family and friends in Hamilton."
Miss Nabalarua will head off to New York at the end of May and start at the UN on June 1. She will spend two months at the UN before returning to complete her BMS/LLB degree in time for October graduation.