Steve Catt, 26, has been an English teacher to young Timorese in Dili for the last year. While his peers don suits, Catt instructs in a short-sleeved shirt, shorts, flip flops and a straw hat that hides his medium-length hair.
The son of diplomats, he became interested in Timor-Leste for its history and heart. When he studied at the University of Hawaii, he learned about the conflict from the personal perspective of his Timorese friends.The reconciliation efforts that Timor-Leste initiated with Indonesia inspired him to journey to Dili on his own.
“I respect the way they handled the conflict,” he said.
New Yorker Gabe Schickel, 30, had just graduated from City College of NewYork and needed a job. He taught in Bangkok and wanted to return to the region. It was at that time that Timor-Leste needed someone with his language, administrative and analytical skills.
He arrived in Timor-Leste several months ago and immersed himself in the challenges facing the government. He took on more and more responsibilities, worked long days and learned about governance in a post-conflict society.
He says working in Timor-Leste inspired him to continue building his career in Southeast Asia.
“The work they are doing is interesting,”he said.
Joel Sellereit wanted to do something different with his summer. The 28-year-old sandy blond from Seattle was studying international business at the University of California-San Diego when he set his sights on Southeast Asia. He learned about Timor-Leste after hearing a presentation from a visiting government leader.
When the Ministry of Finance offered him a summer internship that would utilize his political and economic policy acumen, he packed his suitcases for Timor-Leste. Over the summer he worked with high-ranking government officials from the Ministry, gaining valuable exposure to the budgetary process in a post-conflict society.
He found time to play,too. He traveled to different cities, including Baucau, the second largest city, and made the most of the beaches.
“They appreciate having you here,” Sellereit said.