Graduate student prepares to advocate for change in Papua New Guinea


by Dardanë Halimi

Doreen Lead

SUMMARY: Doreen Philip, an international graduate student from Papua New Guinea, is studying Communication and Advocacy to promote good governance and transparency in public services. She aspires to empower women in her home country.

Doreen Philip aspires to improve village life in Papua New Guinea. She’s preparing for this work by completing JMU’s M.A. in Communication and Advocacy, Environmental Advocacy concentration.

Philip comes from Gantisap, a village in Papua New Guinea. Before coming to JMU, she worked with the Institute of National Affairs in Papua New Guinea, where she networked with community-based organizations and identified resources for capacity building. She enrolled in JMU’s program to better prepare to mobilize people for change at the village level. She wants to raise awareness of good governance and transparency in public services. Her goals align well with needs in her country and she received a Fulbright Scholarship to study at JMU.

As part of her experience in the United States, Philip feels it is very important for her to get involved in her new Harrisonburg-Rockingham community. She seeks to participate in community events. She feels that through these events, she will better understand the local culture and connect with people on various levels.

Philip found Dayton Days, on Oct. 7, to be a wonderful experience. She appreciated the focus on small businesses, as it showed the motivation, determination and creativity of individuals who were striving to succeed in their small family businesses.

Though a chance encounter, Philip met a local Lutheran priest, Pastor Ted Schulz. Schulz was born in Papua New Guinea, and his parents had served as missionaries there for 23 years. He could speak Tok Pisin, one of the commonly spoken languages in Papua New Guinea. Their shared language and faith created a deep bond, and Philip felt a strong sense of belonging. Philip found the literature and items Schulz shared with her from Papua New Guinea to be inspiring and heartwarming. This connection provided Philip with a source of strength and faith in God.

Philip’s commitment to community-building has also included volunteer work at a harvest party with Faith Community Church. Here she has been able to share her culture and learn from others individuals in the local community. Philip is seeking additional opportunities for community engagement and ways to make a positive impact on the environment.

When asked if she had any advice for aspiring international graduate students, Philip emphasized the importance of balancing academics, fun, and adventure. Building connections with other students and finding activities that bring happiness are essential for a successful transition to JMU.

Philip says that her experiences at JMU are helping her to develop in ways that she truly appreciates. She believes that dreams can be achieved through discipline and determination. She is becoming a person of gratitude, dedicated to serving her community; a person who will be the change she wants to see. She aspires to give back to the community and become a source of inspiration and empowerment for village women from Papua New Guinea.

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Published: Friday, November 17, 2023

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 29, 2023

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