THE CHILDREN of the Philippines stand to benefit from the extensive experience of local Koryn Jacobs.
Later this month the passionate young child development officer will travel to the city of Dumaguete in the country’s Negros Oriental province.
She’ll spend nine months in the country through the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) program, an Australian government and AusAID initiative.
Once she arrives she’ll be working with American non government organisation Little Children of the Philippines Foundation to develop teaching and learning programs for their staff.
It’s a big project – the group administrates eight different preschools in the region – but it’s one that Koryn is eager to start.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to over in the Philippines has been really encouraging.
“They’ve given me a sense of the city, and even though I know it isn’t going to be easy, that makes it more exciting and fulfilling,” she says.
Koryn, 28, grew up in Comboyne, 57km south west of Port Macquarie, where she attended primary school.
Her secondary study was at St Joseph’s Regional and Mackillop Senior colleges in Port Macquarie.
She then progressed to studying international relations at Queensland’s Griffith University, before developing a keen interest in early childhood education.
“I was actually working in early childhood while studying international relations, just to support myself at university.
“But as soon as I got in a room with children, and saw the important work that is done, I knew it was for me.”
Koryn’s passion for the job saw her move back to the Hastings last year.
She commenced a contract with Hastings Family Day Care, a program run by St Joseph’s Family Services.
“This is an outstanding place to work because we’ve got the opportunity to engage with one role, and then shift to another as time goes on.
“In some ways it’s really annoying to be leaving – I’ve got such a good thing going here, and now it feels a bit like I’m jumping ship.”
Koryn’s current employers aren’t the only ones who will potentially feel her loss.
“I did say that this year I was coming home to be with my family.
“But I saw the advertisement for this opportunity – and doing this kind of work is something that’s been on the cards for a long time – and I just knew I had to take it.”
Her parents thought she was a little bit crazy at the time.
“But they’re very supportive and understand the importance of this project.”
Having just returned from a week of intensive training with AYAD in Melbourne, Koryn is feeling a sense of nervous excitement.
“It was one of the most inspiring weeks imaginable.
“There was really comprehensive training around a whole range of issues.
“We were provided with information on living in developing countries, communicating with different cultures and how the projects will actually work.
“We even got some training on what to do in an earthquake, which is obviously not something that I’m very used to living around here.”
Koryn is well aware of the challenges that await her.
“Obviously there’s going to be poverty where I’m going, but I think there’ll also be a lot of beauty.
“I’m hoping to get as much done in the short time I’m there, by working with social workers and other professionals.”
Her drive to assist those in need is balanced by the experience of someone who has travelled extensively and seen people in all conditions.
“I lived in Mexico as an exchange student and that taught me to adapt to different circumstances and appreciate whatever I have around me.”
Perhaps, most importantly, Koryn appreciates the opportunity she has been given to make a significant difference to those less fortunate than herself.
“We’re involved with children at such an important time in their lives and that makes the work even more essential.”