“I can already see that the skills I will develop through Teach First NZ are going to be directly applicable to a broad range of projects I might want to get involved with in the future.”
Nadeen Papali’i is of Samoan heritage and was raised in Otara, Auckland. She graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) majoring in Chemical and Materials Engineering. Her involvement with Engineers Without Borders on water projects in Vanuatu initiated a long term desire to address water quality in developing countries. A stepping stone in this direction saw her completing a Masters in Environmental Engineering. Passionate about raising the level of academic achievement amongst Pasifika students, Nadeen initiated study workshops in the Otara community. Understanding how central education is in achieving sustainability, she believes the Teach First NZ programme will not only condition her to impact young people within her community, but eventually many in developing nations.
"I have always been passionate about initiatives addressing low academic achievement and, in particular, Pasifika development. When I completed my Masters degree, my plan was to continue towards a Doctorate focusing on water quality issues in developing countries. But when I came across Teach First NZ’s mission, I felt like we had the same heartbeat. You can sometimes feel that you are only picking at the edge of the problem, but I saw in Teach First NZ the ability to work right at the front line. I felt like – if I want to make a real difference in NZ and in my community – this is the spot where I need to be standing.
"The Summer Initial Intensive was an incredible experience. A highlight for me personally was a lecture about building bridges. It was the first I had ever heard about ‘cultural capital’, and I realised that at times I had suppressed my own cultural identity while striving to achieve. Through that lecture I felt empowered to embrace my culture and I am really excited at the prospect of being able to help my students embrace theirs and encourage them to build their own bridges to success. I have so many goals for the next two years - challenging negative mindsets, encouraging my students to be independent learners, and helping my students to lift their sights of what they can achieve. I can already see that the skills I will develop through the Teach First NZ programme are going to be directly applicable to a broad range of projects I might want to get involved with in the future. I’m especially excited by the opportunity to develop my leadership, resilience and character through the challenges ahead."