Honours students to embark on international journey thanks to New Colombo Scholarships

January 30, 2017

Hannah (left) and Karis (right) will study, research and work in Indonesia during 2017

Hannah (left) and Karis (right) will study, research and work in Indonesia during 2017.

Two Murdoch University honour students were among 14 talented Australians provided with prestigious New Colombo Plan Scholarships from the Australian Government that will see them study, research and work in Indonesia.

The New Colombo Plan (NCP) is a signature initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which aims to lift knowledge of the Indo-Pacific region in Australia by supporting Australian undergraduates to study and undertake internships in the region.

Through the 2017 scholarships scheme Karis Erceg and Hannah Sutton from Murdoch University will gain a better understanding of relationships within the Indo-Pacific region.

Murdoch University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor – International, Professor Lyn Karstadt was in Canberra for the presentation and said the University was immensely proud to have two student ambassadors involved in the scholarship program for it brings global rewards.

“The New Colombo Plan will have enormous benefits for our students as they live, study and work in Indonesia. It is an exciting program that aims to boost Australia's knowledge and relationship with the Indo-Pacific region,” Professor Karstadt said.

“The passion Hannah and Karis have for Indonesia is evident and both said the enthusiasm, encouragement and expertise received from their teachers at Murdoch were big motivating factors in applying for the New Colombo Plan.”

Both Karis and Hannah share a desire to alter the misconceptions of Australia’s relationship with Indonesia, one of our country’s closet neighbours.

“Unfortunately, the relationship between Australia and Indonesia is greatly strained at the moment due to misconceptions in the media. This program invests in students like myself who want to break down this divide, and who feel strongly about advocating on behalf of each country,” said Karis, who will be doing research in the field of ecotourism as part of her honour thesis in Asian studies.

“The New Colombo Plan allows me to pursue further studies in a country that I feel a deep connection to, and one that has huge benefits to Australia – provided we strengthen the people-to-people links – which is what the program is all about.

“Having the opportunity to carry out research in Indonesia means I can further strengthen my knowledge of the region, particularly in the field of sustainability and tourism, as well as increase existing relationships and build on my language and cultural skills.”

Karis hoped to bring all of this expertise and knowledge back to Australia and continue to be an ambassador for both countries in the future.

Hannah will conduct her honours thesis in Indonesia and said the NCP would not only enable her to create long lasting friendships and experiences but strengthen Australia’s knowledge and relationship with Indonesia.

“There is huge potential in the region, not just in trade but also in skills sharing, building relationships and cultural exchanges,” she said.

“It is something I feel so privileged to have received and I am excited to return to visit my incredible friends in the region and to continue to explore and grow.”

The scholarships were presented to the recipients by His Excellency General the Hon Sir Peter Cosgrove the Governor General at a ceremony in the nation’s capital following the announcement by the Hon Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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