30 November 2021

Seven University of South Australia students will have the chance to pursue their studies overseas after being awarded prestigious New Colombo Plan (NCP) scholarships last night.

The students will travel to countries including Thailand, Japan, Singapore, and Micronesia as part of the Australian Government’s initiative to boost the country’s knowledge of the Indo-Pacific by supporting undergraduate students to study and undertake internships in the region.

Dan Thorpe. Photo credit: Jonno Revanche.Bachelor of Psychology student and composer and pianist Dan Thorpe won the NCP Fellowship for Micronesia. He plans to learn about community-led health programs while studying at the College of Micronesia and undertaking internships in Fiji and Timor-Leste.

After having his “COVID realisation moment” in 2020 when his work as an artist and musician stopped abruptly due to the pandemic, Thorpe made the decision to start a degree in Psychology.

“I asked myself what the one thing was that I'd enjoyed most in my life and the answer was volunteering as a peer practitioner at Headspace,” Thorpe says.

“I was part of a group of young, queer people with lived experience of mental ill health who designed and then ran anonymous online support chats for other young queer people during 2016-17 — a pretty rough time to be queer in Australia.

“That it was designed and run by people from the same group that would end up using the service is what made this so uniquely effective.

“What I’m interested in is how communities are taking charge of their health and particularly their mental health.”

Thorpe says there is a lot to learn from the health systems of countries in the Pacific.

“There are some amazing examples of community-led health services that are integrated into national and state healthcare systems,” he says.

“In Australia, we need more community-leadership in health to build our health system’s and our communities’ resilience, and our neighbours can teach us so much. To me, this is central to the ethos of the New Colombo Plan.

“I hope what I learn overseas can help make a difference when I come home.”

Cody GrayWhile Thorpe will spend his time on the sparsely populated islands in the Pacific, Bachelor of Business (Financial Planning) student Cody Gray will be heading for the bright lights and big crowds of Tokyo for her NCP program.

Adapting to a new language and culture won’t be the only challenges for Gray. As a quadriplegic, she will be navigating a new country in a wheelchair, in what will be her first time travelling overseas.

Gray says she will study at Rikkyo University for one semester, followed by two internships, where she hopes to learn more about retirement planning practices in Japan.

“As a finance student, I chose Tokyo because it’s a global financial hub and I wanted to experience the Japanese work culture and lifestyle firsthand,” she says.

“I also had to factor in what locations in the region would be disability-friendly and relatively wheelchair accessible.

“I plan to explore what retirement planning looks like in both Japan and Australia and compare them and hopefully find some new practices to bring back with me.

“I would love to gain a deeper understanding of the Japanese culture and their financial money management systems, as well as meet new people.

“I think that's the whole premise of the new Colombo Plan Scholarship; to forge these deeper connections in international countries.”

Both Gray and Thorpe plan to head overseas in the second half of 2022 to start their NCP programs.

It is the highest number of scholarships UniSA has ever been awarded in one year. UniSA’s seven NCP scholars for 2022 include:

  • Daniel Thorpe (Bachelor of Psychology) whose host institution is College of Micronesia in Micronesia. He will also go to Fiji and Timor-Leste.
  • Cody Gray (Bachelor of Business [Financial Planning]) whose host institution is Rikkyo University in Japan.
  • Sian Jones-Parry (Bachelor of Primary Education [Honours]) whose host institution is the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. She will also go to Vanuatu.
  • Sebastian Blake (Bachelor of Arts [Sociology]) whose host institution is Mahidol University in Thailand.
  • Benjamin Sofo (Bachelor of Geospatial Science) whose host institution is Mahidol University in Thailand. He will also travel to Singapore.
  • Aaron Hayward (Bachelor of Engineering [Honours] [Mechanical]) whose host institution is Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He will also go to Fiji.
  • Clover Glasgow (Bachelor of Arts [Applied Linguistics]) whose host institution is Okayama University in Japan.

For more information on the NCP program, go the NCP website.

UniSA Media contact: Rosanna Galvin M: +61 434 603 457 E: rosanna.galvin@unisa.edu.au

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