and still active abroad as a returnee
From 2004 onwards I worked for a total of ten years with various development agencies and in several projects in the South Pacific – in Papua New Guinea and Bougainville, to be precise. My sending agencies were the Bavarian Mission Eine Welt (One World Mission) and the Austrian organisation HORIZONT3000.
I have now been involved in the Pacific Network, a charitable association, and the associated Pacific Information Centre, for many years. I have been able not only to make a lot of personal and professional contacts but also to regularly obtain background information and news from the Pacific region.
Now a member of the network
When I returned in 2015, I had to start a new career altogether, because I had never really had a proper job in Germany. Alongside my work, I also attended meetings of the Pacific Network and was invited to speak at an annual conference. And I was later elected to serve as a member of the board.
As an active member, I plan events and am involved in developing the programme work of the association. And I look after guests from the Pacific for our partners in the network. But more than anything else, I regularly exchange news and information with other activists and keep in touch with former friends and colleagues from Papua New Guinea in this way. My voluntary activities involve a lot of work, but I really wouldn’t want to do without the network as a means of sharing thoughts and ideas.
The members of the network view the Pacific from very different perspectives: There are scientists, former professional development workers, and people who have professional or personal connections with the Pacific or are politically active. The political activists campaign, for example, against nuclear weapons tests and the environmentally and socially destructive extraction of raw materials.
What exactly is the Pacific Network?
The Pacific Network is a national association of groups concerned with the Pacific. It was founded in the 1980s and has more than 200 members. It is committed to promoting the political, economic, environmental, and cultural concerns of the Pacific island states – a region which doesn’t get much attention in Germany – among German-speaking people. This is done online using a website, Facebook, and Twitter and off-line through print publications, annual meetings on various topics, and political action. At the same time, we are involved in the educational work of the Pacific Information Centre and the lobbying activities of the Oceania Dialogue. There are regional groups as well – in Hamburg, Berlin, and Nuremberg, for example.
The annual conference of the network
Our next conference is to be held over the weekend of 6-8 March in Göttingen. Even if you are not a member, but have returned from the Pacific region, for example, you will be very welcome!
The 2019 annual conference, which focused on "The Long Shadow of the Colonial Era in the Pacific", was a great success. The highlights included a Polynesian kava ceremony and lectures on the independence movement in New Caledonia. Two additional topics were: the continuing dependence of many island states on the old colonial powers; and the return of bones and cultural artefacts which are still kept in German museums.
Carsten Klink lived in Papua New Guinea und Bougainville from 2004 to 2014 (published in transfer volume 2/2019)