Indigenous scholar Zac Frazer – paving the way to the future
Zac Frazer, a Kamilaroi man from Yamba in New South Wales, has always wanted to travel overseas and experience new cultures. His New Colombo Plan Scholarship (NCP) opened up the door to do so. “I always loved travel and as the New Colombo Plan allows you to study overseas and work, it’s a great way to travel and see other countries.
Zac has some strong words of encouragement for anyone thinking about applying. “Do it. It was the most amazing experience of my life so far and it’s definitely the best thing you will do at university. It’s such a fantastic opportunity and I highly encourage anyone interested in it to apply. Doesn’t matter what you study and what you want to do in the future. If you’re interested in international affairs and Australia’s place on the global stage, I really encourage you to apply.”
The NCP program came across Zac’s radar early on in his studies. “It seemed like an amazing scholarship – to be fully funded to go into the Asia Pacific region to study and work. For me it was a way to open up doors to employment. I realised how competitive it was so waited until further into my degree to gain more experience and do other internships in Australia. Then I applied toward the end of my degree.”
Zac designed his NCP to undertake time out from his arts/law degree at the University of Queensland to study in India and work in Singapore and Myanmar. He chose a rural Indian university, OP Jindal University about three hours north of Delhi where he studied for five months. “I chose that university as it’s international and they offer subjects in international law. They are trying to establish themselves as a leading university with a global focus drawing international students as well as those from local regions.” Zac said it was the right choice for him. “They do have a world class institution. All lecturers are young and knowledgeable and students are really into their studies. There was a real connection for me there.
While Zac had previous overseas experience in Amsterdam on exchange for six months, India was very different for the first few weeks. “It was initially hard but this was what I’ve done to challenge myself. It’s an adventure. I had no culture shock in Amsterdam but in India it was more like a sensory overload. It was just so different, the sights and sounds were really intense. It’s such a different way of life and a vastly different culture.”
Zac made friends while sharing a room with two others and was taken under the wing of another Indian student who invited Zac to his home to spend time with his family. People were interested in his Indigenous background “I had conversations as part of getting to know people and each other. Many of the people I met were progressive and young and through our conversations we each understood the experiences that colonial pasts has had on our respective countries.”
As a young Indigenous Australian, Zac said it was interesting to go to another country with a colonial English heritage and see how that country had been experienced its colonial settlement by the English, even though it was different to Australia’s settlement.
And Zac says the right attitude helps to make the most of your time overseas. “Be a yes person. Do as much as you can – put yourself out there. Go travel as much as you can. You only have a set amount of time so see the country. It’s also a good way to further the goals of the NCP scholarship as well as building knowledge.
Zac’s NCP internships also provided variety in areas of the law working with commercial law firm Herbert Smith Freehills in Singapore for a month and at small organisation, Justice Base, in Yangon, Myanmar.
“My internships were awesome. Singapore was great, super easy and I enjoyed the liveliness of the city. Working for a global law firm I was doing arbitration work. I sat in on arbitrations hearings to settle disputes for companies coming to Singapore. It was invaluable to work for them and have that experience for a commercial law career. He said that Myanmar was very different. “The work I did there was obviously different and more about the rule of law and democratic institutions. The team at Justice Base were really driven to establish Myanmar as a resilient democracy through their work.
Zac is now working as an associate for a Supreme Court Judge in Queensland and says his NCP has played a big part in his professional career since leaving university. “It’s probably one of the highlights of my undergraduate studies and it’s given me an edge when it comes to applying for jobs but also soft skills patience, being versatile, adapting and being resilient, flexible improving people skills and trying to make connections with another culture different to my own. My NCP was a great way to see the world, build character and improve my CV for future employment.
It was the highlight, he says, of his undergraduate years. “You need to be resilient – at times it will be challenging, but take it in your stride and turn it into and adventure when it becomes a challenge. Try and make it fun!”
I found it really rewarding to go into a different culture and immerse myself and get to know the people. It’s exciting and better than staying in same city in Australia and doing the same job for so long. I was really drawn to the adventure of it and it certainly was.