Introducing PARBICA's first ICA New Professional – Abilyn Pua'ara Hou from the Solomon Islands

29 May 2018

portrait of Roslyn RussellAbilyn Pua'ara Hou

Recently, the ICA announced their new professionals for 2018. Among them was PARBICA's first ICA New Professional - Abilyn Pua'ara Hou.

Abilyn is the Senior Digitisation Officer at the National Archives of Solomon Islands, and she spoke to us about her work history, her determination in applying for the New Professionals Programme, and what she hopes to achieve.

Abilyn, tell us a little about the work that you do and how you started working in archives.

I studied a Bachelor of Arts in Information and Communication Sciences at the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby. In 2013 I was in my final year at University and we did practical work at various work places as part of our field work project. I did my practical at the National Library of Papua New Guinea and learned a lot from that experience.

In the same year National Archives of Solomon Islands (NASI) advertised a Senior Archivist Position in the Solomon Star newspaper. I wanted to try so I sent my application and I thought they will not accept my application because I am inexperienced. However, at the end of December 2013, I received a call to interview for the job. I was really nervous at that time as it was my first interview. I was successful in the interview, but for another position of Records Management Officer.

In August 2014 I started working with NASI on its Record Plan and I engaged a lot in assisting the Records Management Team to spread awareness of the Solomon Islands Records Management Policy to all Government Ministries and Provincial government. Last year I was promoted to Senior Digitisation Officer responsible for digitising all of the records that are in our repository and also to do on-demand scanning for researchers.

What attracted you to working in archives?

I didn't really understand what an archive was until I got the Solomon Islands Government scholarship to study in this specific area. I began to have interest in the area of archiving and became more interested when I started working with NASI. What really attracts me to work in archive is my interest in the history of my country and to know what has happened in the past; it gives me knowledge to understand the importance of keeping these documents as they are valuable to the people and the country.

How did you decide to apply for ICA new professionals programme?

I started applying to ICA New Professional Programme (ICA – NPP) in 2015 when I first learnt about this program. I see it as an opportunity for someone like me who just got into this profession to learn new things and help me develop my skills in archiving and records management. And what really encouraged me to apply is that I wanted to know the experiences of other young professionals around the world, their challenges and how they overcome such challenges in work.

Most of all I wanted to listen to presentations from experts around the world, as they are role models for young professionals like me and to get to know them personally is a dream that I would like to achieve one day. By getting in touch with these experts you have international connections that can help you boost your knowledge and skills as part of organisational development as well as personal gain. I thought that if other young professionals from other countries can do it, then why not me? And that is what motivated me to apply to ICA – NPP.

My application in 2015 was unsuccessful, but I never gave up. I tried again in 2016 but was still unsuccessful. I started to feel like I was never going to succeed. But last year, I tried one more time and sent in my application. Fortunately, it was successful, and I would like to thank Ms Lillie Le Dorré, PARBICA Secretary–General, and Mr Kabini Afia, Principal Conservator of NASI, for their generous support and refereeing of my application.

What do you hope to get out of the ICA-NPP?

 All I want to get out of the ICA-NPP is the opportunity to develop my professional connections with other new professionals from around the world. And that connection started last year when I started writing for the ICA New Professionals Programme newsletters and I was one of the New Professionals contributors. When my news was published in the ICA-NPP, it makes me grateful for my involvement in such activity in that it motivated me to get more personally into the programme.