UTS Science students become global citizens
UTS Science students are taking their skills outside the lab, across oceans and to mangroves in Cambodia's Mekong region.
The New Colombo Plan Scholarships Program is a government-run initiative, empowering Australian university students to study and connect with the Indo-Pacific region.
"The trip isn’t only about science; the students also become immersed in Cambodian culture—it's about language and culture.
"They learn how science is taught and practiced outside of Australia. It really helps our students become global citizens," Associate Professor Ung said.
Exciting, humbling, galvanizing. These are the three words UTS Biomedical Science student Christopher Murphy chose to describe his New Colombo Plan trip.
"It was an awesome opportunity, a once in a lifetime experience. The application process was quick and straightforward. I couldn’t recommend it enough!" he said.
Christopher partook in the New Colombo Plan initiative earlier this year with Dr Ung. The group were hosted by the Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia (PUC), travelling Phnom Penh, Kapot and Siem Reap.
"Not only did we study mangroves and a local species of bird, but we got the opportunity to learn about Cambodian language and culture" Christopher said.
For the second year student, the trip was meaningful from both an educational and personal level.
"It was the first overseas trip I took alone, without my family, and the people I met left a lasting impression. Not only UTS students and staff, but also the locals and the PUC community," Christopher said.
"One memory that clearly stays with me is when we were travelling through rural Komput. We were exploring a cave and a bunch of local kids appeared and gave us a tour. They were so lively and knew everything about the place."
Christopher admitted that the trip reiterated how lucky he was and he cannot wait to return to Cambodia one day.
"Science really has the potential to get people together and drive social impact. I'll definitely be going back."
Science really has the potential to get people together and drive social impact.
For UTS Forensic Science student Helen Zeng, the adventure was eye-opening and practical.
"We went to mangrove fields, planted mangrove trees and worked in wetlands across the lower Mekong region," Helen said.
"We studied migratory birds of Southeast Asia, specifically the endangered Sarus Crane. We investigated why the species has sopped breeding in Mekong and how climate change is impacting the area.
According to Helen, the trip offers a unique chance for UTS students to see the rest of the world and how different cultures practice science.
"You can’t help but notice the lack of facilities over there. But it’s amazing how much people can achieve with less resources and equipment," she admitted.
"Now that I’m back, I’m going to take advantage of everything we have here at UTS and in Australia. I’m also going to be more involved with things globally, to make more connections and be conscious of our surroundings."
UTS Science students may gain credit point recognition for participating in the New Colombo Plan.
Interested? Head to the 2019 New Colombo Plan Scholarship page to find out more or register your expression of interest.