Development Studies graduate in Hawaii

30 August 2017
Trish Tupou

Trish Tupou is continuing her study at the University of Hawaii after receiving both a Fulbright scholarship and a fellowship at the East-West Center.

The East-West Center was established in 1960, and promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue.

Trish completed her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Development Studies last year, and spent this year working as a writer and researcher at E-Tangata before departing for Hawaii.

She considers herself an unlikely Development Studies student.

"I'm constantly trying to imagine a world without development."

Associate Professor Yvonne Underhill-Sem appreciated Trish's perspective.

"From the outset Trish began her honours degree with a clear understanding of the need to challenge mainstream perspectives on development in the Pacific. This critical approach is encouraged in our programme, and I wish Trish well in furthering this through her postgraduate studies in Hawaii."

Trish says that she is interested in climate change and the narratives around it. She stood as a candidate for the Green Party in the last election, and tried to find ways to inspire Pacific women to campaign about the issue.
For her, the answer was in stories.

"Science doesn't inspire me to be active about climate change."

Trish has a background in creative writing, and decided that was the way she should tackle climate change.

She shares an anecdote about appearing on a panel about climate change and choosing to share the Tongan creation myth, arguing that "we think of nature as a part of our extended family, so that’s why we should look after it".

Trish completed a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Graduate Diploma in Arts in Pacific Studies before continuing into honours in Development Studies.

In her first Development Studies course with Dr Jesse Hession Grayman, she introduced herself as "anti-development".

"I'm Tongan, so I think a lot about what Tonga would be like without development. I don't know what it would look like, but I like to imagine it would be pretty cool."

Jesse respected this approach. "It takes guts to enrol in Development Students and declare that your purpose is to study a set of global practices that you profoundly disagree with, but that is exactly what Trish did when she introduced herself to her peers and instructors at the start of the first semester."

"I knew this was going to be a fun student to join our discussions each week!"

"Our classes interrogate the logics and practices of development, so Trish — perhaps to her surprise — actually fitted right into the programme."

Trish is looking forward to her time studying at the East-West Center, and is aiming to keep an open mind.

"I'm going to take a back seat and listen to others."

Jesse is sure that Trish will enrich the academic and social life of the East-West Center.

"She always brings an active, cheerful and challenging voice to the classroom."

Find out more about Development Studies