University of Queensland student Zoe Brereton was in the thick of studying for law exams when she learned she had been selected as Australia’s New Colombo Plan Fellow to India.
The Bachelor of Arts/Law student received the scholarship to study languages, politics and human rights at the University of Delhi, where she also plans to undertake an internship with the National Commission for Women.
Ms Brereton said she felt incredibly lucky to have been granted this opportunity.
“I’m looking forward to travelling, meeting new people, as well as immersing myself in the culture and the daily university life,” she said.
The New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program is an Australian Government initiative that provides opportunities for Australian undergraduates to undertake semester-based exchanges, and internships or mentorships in selected Indo-Pacific locations.
The top-ranked candidate for each country is acknowledged as a New Colombo Plan Fellow.
Ms Brereton said living in India would move her outside her comfort zone.
“Having worked in France and Uganda during my gap year, I’ve learned that it’s only through pushing myself and trying new things that I learn about myself and how I cope with new situations,” she said.
“The more exposed I am to other cultures, the greater my ability to understand different perspectives and principles.”
One way she plans to immerse herself in Indian culture is by enrolling in Hindi language classes.
“Showing that you value and place weight on another’s interest and beliefs is a sign of respect, which I intend to demonstrate through participating in as many activities as possible, learning about India’s cultural heritage and making a conscious effort to learn the language,” she said.
“From my experience in Uganda, where I took lessons in the local language, Luganda, I have found that creating a trusting relationship comes from being open and interested in people, their culture and way of life.”
UQ has strong connections with India through academic linkages and staff relationships, including a visit in September by Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj, and the UQ India Seed Funding Initiative which enhanced research collaborations. To find out more, visit www.uq.edu.au/international/engagement-in-india.