After completing my Community schooling in 1996, I did not get any offer from higher/secondary schools to peruse my studies. Because my village was far away from the nearest urban town (Kokopo) which has more options to further studies or find employment, the only available option then was to stay back home and help my parents gardening and kamap mangi blo ples… (become a village boy). My dad had to travel by dinghy some six (6) hours to Kokopo the provincial town just to find available spaces to enroll me so that I can continue on my education. I did not see myself continuing my studies as my academic performance from grades one (1) to six (6) saw me always on the last placings throughout my community school days. My dad managed to secure a space for me at Vunabosco Agro-Technical School to continue my high school studies hoping that I will improve on my academic performance and hopefully find a job in the future. At one stage, I had to tell my dad that I do not see myself progressing well in my educational studies and so it would be better of me staying back home but he continued insisting and told me just to have a try which now I am very thankful that I did obeyed my dad and hence gave it a go.
I started my higher school studies in 1997 where I did my grades seven (7) and continued until 2002 where I completed my grade twelve (12). During my six (6) consecutive years of study at Vunabosco, I had acquired many things personally, physically and most importantly spiritually. As years go by, I just felt that things were falling in place and I started to see great improvement in both my academic and technical results – results that I did not expect; results that motivated me to excel even more. In 2002, I graduated with my grade 12 Secondary certificate and also was awarded the Best In Motor Vehicle Mechanics. I always belief until now of the famous saying of Don Bosco which goes like this “Every student who comes to Don Bosco is brought by the Blessed Mother Mary”… It was during these years at Vunabosco that I truly learnt so many things especially of how it takes to become a true Bosconian and am very proud of the contributions of my teachers and Salesians at that time who really trained and mentored us into becoming who we are now. The sacrifices and challenges I endured that time in terms of being faithful and consistent in doing my daily choirs as a boarding student, studying well and spending more time for devotions every night after dinner at the Salesians Chapel upstairs have paid off now. Vunabosco Agro-Technical School is my school, my home and the very place that shaped my whole life to who I am now.
In 2003, I was selected to continue on my studies at Don Bosco Technological Institute (DBTI) as a Salesian Aspirant. I spent three (3) years in the Salesian Seminary where I studied to become a religious (Salesian) but after thorough discernment of my life I believed the good Lord was not calling me for the religious life. Hence, I continued on my studies as an ordinary student at DBTI in 2006 and graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Technical Education – Majoring in the Field of Motor Vehicle Technology. After graduation, Fr Roger Miranda SDB who was the Rector then asked me to stay back and work as a trainer at DBTI and so I accepted the offer and taught from 2007-2009 teaching Motor Vehicle Technology Diploma students and also taught Technical Drawing (Drafting) for the trades of Electrical, Electronics, Metal Fabrication & Welding and Maintenance Fitting & Machining. Like Vunabosco, I did learnt a lot during my study at DBTI but this time more of a mentor in that I was actually training students. My experience being a trainer at DBTI was very challenging in that I was very young at that time and teaching at that level needed more confidence and experience but am content I was able to overcome that. Some of the students that I’ve trained at DBTI are now working in the mining, oil & gas industry and other companies in PNG.
The following are the companies that I have worked with after resigning from DBTI:
1. Simberi Gold Mining Limited, New Ireland Province
2. Morobe Mining Joint Venture, Morobe Province
3. Newcrest Mining Limited, New Ireland Province
4. Ok Tedi Mining Limited, Western Province
5. Ela Motors Tsusho (PNG) Limited
I would like to say THANK YOU to ALL the Salesian Priests and FMA Sisters for your contributions towards my upbringing and your tireless efforts in making sure Bosconians in all Don Bosco schools across the country are well educated technically as Don Bosco is well known of in technical trades training but most importantly providing Spiritual guidance to Bosconians to ensure they are educated holistically. Being in the Don Bosco systems for thirteen (13) consecutive years, ten (10) years as a student and three (3) years as a trainer at DBTI, I can say Don Bosco is truly in my heart and I will continue to live and help promote Don Bosco in my life.
To the Bosconians out there, let us continue to show the true spirit of a “TRUE BOSCONIAN” to others and radiate that “BOSCONIAN SPIRIT” to our families, friends and everyone we met in our day-to-day life.
By Joe Kavatpuo