For the first time, two First Nations students from ANU have won New Colombo Plan scholarships to study and intern in the Indo-Pacific.

Deepening knowledge in Japanese customs and applying an educational and mental health lens to better understand Korean culture and language will be a key focus for two First Nations students from The Australian National University (ANU) who have received coveted New Colombo Plan (NCP) scholarships for 2023.  

Lucy Garner and Amy Mohamed-Engelhardt are the University’s first ever First Nations NCP scholars since the program’s inception in 2014. They join nine other ANU students who will live, study and intern in the Indo-Pacific. The ANU cohort will use their scholarships to forge meaningful connections and strengthen knowledge between Australia and the Indo-Pacific region.  

The 11 recipients from ANU is the most the University has ever had in a single scholarship round, with fields spanning Chinese politics and the Pacific media landscape to space and aviation law and sports diplomacy. The ANU students will be based in Fiji, China, India, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Thailand.  

2023 New Colombo Plan scholar Amy Mohamed-Engelhardt. Photo: Jamie Kidston/ANU

Ms Garner will embark on a year-long adventure to The University of Tokyo in Japan, where she hopes to strengthen her Japanese language skills with hopes of one day forging a career in diplomacy.  

“Being fluent in Japanese and understanding business customs is my main objective for the year-long exchange. This contributes and aligns with my future goal of working at the Australian Tokyo Embassy with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) where formal business language is a necessary skill to competently undertake Australian and Japanese diplomatic work,” Ms Garner said.  

A Bachelor of Arts student, Ms Mohamed-Engelhardt will jet off to Yonsei University in Korea with the goal of immersing herself in the local culture.  

“It is so surreal to be given the opportunity to study in Korea as an NCP Scholar and be a part of the amazing work that DFAT does through the New Colombo Plan to strengthen the relationships between Australia and the Indo-Pacific region,” Ms Mohamed-Engelhardt said.  

“My aim is to return home with a wealth of knowledge in culture, language, mental health and education as well as lifelong connections.” 

The ANU winners are among 150 Australian recipients for 2023, the largest cohort of scholars to ever travel to the Indo-Pacific under the initiative. 

The brainchild of former Australian Foreign Affairs Minister and current ANU Chancellor, the Hon Julie Bishop, the NCP provides an opportunity for about 10,000 Australian undergraduate students to travel to the Indo-Pacific region every year with the aim of building lasting relationships with our closest neighbours.  

The ANU students who have received New Colombo Plan (NCP) scholarships. Back row from left: Henry Devitt, Adrianna Cullen and Joseph Negrine, Liam Taylor and Amy Mohamed-Engelhardt. Front row from left: Kira Atkins and Katherine Flint. Photo: Jamie Kidston/ANU

The 2023 round of NCP scholars sees many firsts, including the largest number of students from regional and rural areas and the biggest cohort of students with a disability. There are seven First Nations NCP scholars for 2023, the second largest number of First Nations recipients in the award program’s history. 

The 2023 NCP scholars from ANU are: 

  • Kira Atkins. Host nation: Japan  
  • Andrianna Cullen. Host nation: India  
  • Henry Devitt. Host nation: China  
  • Amy Mohamed-Engelhardt. Host nation: South Korea 
  • Katherine Flint. Host nation: Singapore 
  • Lucy Garner. Host nation: Japan   
  • George Griswold. Host nation: China  
  • Nathanael Kwon. Host nation: Thailand  
  • Joseph Negrine. Host nation: Singapore  
  • Nathan Scotter. Host nation: China  
  • Liam Taylor. Host nation: Fiji 

Learn more about the New Colombo Plan at DFAT’s website.  

Top image: 2023 New Colombo Plan scholar Lucy Garner. Photo: Lucy Garner

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