Helping Australian students to live, study and undertake work experience in the Indo–Pacific region
‘I have never felt more confident with my life direction and career ambitions as a result of the opportunities which were created by the New Colombo Plan program.’
Asher Taccori, 2015 New Colombo Plan Fiji Fellow
A New Colombo Plan scholarship supported University of Wollongong Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics student Asher Taccori to pursue his passion for food security.
Asher studied for a semester at the University of the South Pacific in Suva. He worked with the Ministry of Health, learning about food security in Fiji, and with Fiji’s largest hospital shadowing a small team of dietitians. The combination of classroom learning and work placement opportunities created the perfect academic experience. Like many NCP students, he gained new perspectives, knowledge and connections that will assist him to play a role in Australia’s future while better understanding the geographic region in which Australia is situated.
Asher also undertook an internship in Kiribati with the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security. He surveyed locals on household food security, describing it as incredibly insightful to hear about the change in local diet with the introduction of imported foods and the continual pressures posed by rising waters, severe droughts and less locally available food.
Asher completed this program with a five-month internship with the UN World Food Programme in Bangkok. His research focused on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life—the biggest window of opportunity to break the malnutrition cycle.
The NCP scholarship inspired Asher to work in development. He is now leading a team working on improving agricultural yields, agricultural education and empowerment of women in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Asher is a passionate advocate of the improved employability and Asia capability that can be derived from participation in the NCP. He has returned to the University of Wollongong to promote the program to students and faculty members and has supported the rollout of the NCP Alumni Program by addressing participants at an alumni event in New South Wales.
Asher’s experience is typical of the positive impact of the NCP on its recipients and participating institutions. It is creating new networks that enhance Australia’s engagement with the region and contribute to closer relationships between Australia and our Indo–Pacific partners. Evaluation of student experiences found that 85 per cent of mobility and 96 per cent of scholarship respondents reported greater Asia-capability. Almost universally, students reported greater enthusiasm for travelling and engaging with the Indo–Pacific and improved knowledge and understanding of their host location. Eighty-eight per cent of host organisations reported that the NCP helped build relations with Australian universities.