Overseas summer course a first

An action-packed summer course abroad has left 25 scholarship recipients with a new perspective on our Asian neighbours.

The students, who were selected out of more than 200 applications, spent five weeks on a study tour of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Singapore and Indonesia, funded by Education New Zealand.

Law and politics student Hester Steevens says the scholarship gave her some unique experiences. “I can’t imagine many people have operated the barbecue at the ambassador’s residence in Bangkok or had the chance to ask the Singapore and Myanmar ASEAN ambassadors about human rights abuses, all within a space of five weeks,” she says.

The course enabled students to build global connections and learn about a region critical to New Zealand. While abroad, they received briefings and interacted with staff and students from local partner universities and New Zealand diplomatic missions, non-governmental organisations and companies.

Cara Jacoby, senior coordinator of International Programmes, says it was beneficial for Victoria International to collaborate with partners and diplomatic staff in Southeast Asia. “Normally it’s the other way round—we receive international students. This was a first for us in terms of making creative use of an outbound scholarship opportunity.”

The University is hopeful that funding will be awarded for a second offering of the field course in 2015.

Understanding Southeast Asia

Understanding Southeast Asia was run for the first time last summer, and was open to all disciplines. Students spent two weeks on intensive course work at Victoria before heading to Asia.

All costs associated with the study tour were funded by Education New Zealand through the Prime Minister’s Scholarships for Asia, with students paying their own course fees.

For images, visit the course Facebook page.