Early Childhood Specialist in Timor-Leste

This week the Chronicle caught up with  Justine Davies who is currently living in Timore-Leste working as an Early Childhood Specialist. We asked Justine about her experiences so far:

Where are you currently living?

I’m currently living in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste with about 234,000 other people.

What are you doing there?

Having a great time.  I applied for a job via the ‘Ethical Jobs’ website, did a skype interview and got on a plane.  My official title is ‘Early Childhood Specialist’.  The job I applied for was to implement a parenting project.  The project was cancelled before it began (six months after I arrived).  Living in Timor is a lesson in patience.  I work in a preschool attached to a peace centre named Ba Futuru (which translates as, ‘for the future’) alongside six Timorese teachers.  I teach four and five year olds in the mornings and in the afternoons I train the teachers.

How did this come about?

I lost my mind and wanted a year of the unknown.  Also I wanted to share the wonderful experiences and knowledge I gained at Raglan Childcare over about twelve years.  I wanted to work in parent education.

What are you enjoying about the experience?

Sipping coconuts.  I’m a text message away from organising a boat to a remote tropical island.  I can jump in the car and tour beautiful untouched mountain country.  The Timorese people are very gentle, caring and happy.  I live close to the beach and it’s 30 degrees every day.  There is a small expat community here, it’s a very social lifestyle and I never know what to expect from each day.  I am enjoying learning a new language and being involved in early childhood education in Timor.  When I’m in a meeting with the Ministry of Education, putting in my two cents about minimum standards for early childhood education I want to pinch myself.

What is challenging ?

For me the pollution is the most challenging aspect of living here.  Everyone is constantly covered in dust.  Open sewers full of plastic bottles and rubbish line the streets.  People here splash the sewer water onto the road to get rid of the dust and then everyone breathes it in as it evaporates.  The streets smell of burning rubbish (plastic).  Also I am just recovering from dengue fever (transmitted by mosquitos  – not as bad as it sounds) and I miss my 17 year old daughter terribly.

What do you miss about Raglan?

I miss living in a place where people live consciously in their environment…I miss clean, fresh air.

Any plans to come back?

My job finishes at the end of the year and after a Bali holiday I plan to come back for a Raglan summer!

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