Kia Orana! I’m Elizabeth, a rising junior majoring in Information Systems and Human-Computer Interaction. I’m one of the three student consultants in the Cook Islands this summer.
Chloe, Amin and I left Pittsburgh on the afternoon of Monday the 16th. After almost 24 hours in the air with stopovers in Charlotte, Los Angeles, and Auckland, New Zealand, we finally arrived in Rarotonga on Tuesday night, Hawaiian-Aleutian time.
Rarotonga is very beautiful. We’re surrounded by blue ocean, green mountains, coconut trees and many nice people. The weather here is lovely compared to Pittsburgh — it’s warm and sunny during the daytime and cool during the night, with the occasional tropical rain.
This is our cute little house:
Besides the wild rooster cries and dogs barking in the middle of the night when we’re trying to sleep, it is very peaceful here.
And this is a cat that shows up at our house everyday and is always trying to get our attention and go inside. We speculate that whoever lived in the house previously was his former owner. Although we won’t let him in, he has unofficially become our pet.
Our work schedule is Monday to Friday from around 8:30 or 9 am to 4 pm. The three of us are all working at different government ministries. Chloe is with the Ministry of Agriculture, Amin is with the Ministry of Marine Resources, and I’m with the Ministry of Transport. The Ministry of Transport’s office is located by a harbor.
I’ve spent the past week getting to know the Ministry and its current technology problems. The Ministry is responsible for the safety and efficiency of Cook Islands aviation and maritime activities. It is handled by 9 staff members who are using a network drive to share a large amount of documents and spreadsheets. Unfortunately, the shared file system is poorly organized with little search capability, making it inefficient for the staff to retrieve the files they’re looking for. They’ve proposed an intranet as a solution to improve the system. Other potential deliverables include a public website allowing the Ministry to make documents, forms and legislations available online, and an improved database management system to make data entry and maintainance easier. I will be spending the next week determining the best possible solutions for the Ministry and developing a scope of work for the rest of my time here.
After work, Chloe, Amin and I have generally spent our free time driving around the island, going grocery shopping, playing games at home and watching House.
Saturday morning, we went on a cross-island hike with a group of political science students from Brigham Young University-Hawaii, who are also here working for various ministries. The hike was long and tiring but an absolutely incredible experience. We climbed all the way up a mountain to the base of Te Rua Manga (aka The Needle), then down to Papua Falls on the other side of the island. Grabbing onto rocks and trees, sliding down muddy slopes, wading through creeks — it was quite the adventure. Here is a selection of photos to give you a taste of our experience:
And that wraps up our first week in Rarotonga. Stay tuned!