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June 27, 2014

Emma Roberts wins New Colombo Plan Scholarship


Emma Roberts  is in her third year of a combined degree in Law and Asia-Pacific Studies with majors in Indonesian and Pacific Studies. Her research interests include approaches to eradicating gender-based violence, animal welfare and the preservation of customary rights in the Asia-Pacific region. After completing several language courses in Central Java and undertaking field research in Samoa, Emma has become addicted to living overseas and hopes to do so as part of her career in the future. For the time being she is aiming to spend as much of her degree as possible completing exchanges and other in-country projects. In her spare time (when she isn't traveling), Emma enjoys reading and bike riding. She also really likes organizing events and is looking forward to seeing Asia-Pacific Week 2014 come together in June.

Emma Roberts is an undergraduate student at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. She is the inaugural Yudhoyono Fellow and one of three ANU students to receive a New Colombo Plan scholarship in 2014, which provides up to $67,000 for students to study in Asia for one or two semesters, with an optional six months as an intern.
Australia needs to build relationships in the region or risk being a bystander in this Asian century, argues New Colombo Plan scholarship winner EMMA ROBERTS.


It is my absolute honor and pleasure to speak before you this evening on behalf of the scholars from the New Colombo Plan pilot scholarship program.



We are all very grateful to be in receipt of such a prestigious award, and hope that through our scholarship experiences we will develop our cultural and linguistic fluency and gain a deeper understanding of the political and anthropological climates in our respective host countries.


I believe this knowledge will aid us in establishing strong people-to-people connections, which can translate to bilateral international ties, thereby boosting Australia’s engagement with the Indo-Pacific region.

So, why is Australia’s role in the Indo-Pacific region so important? Why is the Australian Government establishing and investing in initiatives such as the New Colombo Plan? 

Professor Michael Wesley, the Director for the School of International, Political and Strategic Studies at my university, The Australian National University, gave a presentation earlier this year where he showed how pre-colonial Indo-Pacific trade networks have been revitalized in this era of globalization, and that allegiances between nations will determine the balance of power within our neighborhood.
Thus, now is the time for Australia to strengthen its relationships with other Indo-Pacific countries to ensure that our nation is a key player, and not merely a bystander, in determining the future of our region.
My belief is that in order to strengthen connections with other Indo-Pacific nations, Australia should be willing to not only learn about them, but also to learn from them.
It is only by taking a “bottom up” approach to studying the culture, history, language and politics of the region that we will be able to properly understand and appreciate their affairs, and be capable of engaging on a truly equal playing field.
What better way to achieve this than to give a group of passionate, dedicated and capable young people the opportunity to spend an extended period of time living, studying and interning in various Indo-Pacific locations? Through this experience we will be able to deepen and broaden our passion and understanding of our respective host locations to a level beyond what any of us could ever reach in the classroom alone.
By fostering a generation of young leaders who are truly engaged with the region, the New Colombo Plan will strengthen Australia’s links with Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and all of the other locations which the New Colombo Plan will encompass in the future.
As my friend Nick Horton, another ANU scholarship recipient said to me: “the New Colombo Plan is an opportunity to change the way we think as a nation, and break down the cultural and historical barriers which have previously separated us from the region that lies only a few hundred kilometers to the north of Cape York.

“It is our ticket to the future.”

Last Friday morning, my phone rang and as I answered I was barely able to believe my ears when the Foreign Minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, introduced herself and informed me that I have been selected as the Yudhoyono Fellow for the pilot phase of the New Colombo Plan.



Despite still feeling utterly amazed and astonished, I cannot express how honored I am to have this title. In addition to the perks of being able to chat to Julie Bishop on the phone, and meet the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, being the Yudhoyono Fellow will give me the opportunity to foster connections between educational institutions in Australia and Indonesia, as well as between the two nations as a whole.


My university is currently looking to develop more comprehensive engagement strategies with Indonesian higher-education providers and I cannot stress how valuable these links are. Engaging with educational institutions means engaging with the next generation of young leaders and thus being able to have a say in the future of the Indo-Pacific region. I am very excited to be able to have a role in this process.
I am honored to be amongst such a diverse group of high-achieving young people, from paramedics to engineers, lawyers, teachers and scientists, and am very excited to hear the even-more amazing stories we will all surely have after finishing our New Colombo Plan scholarship programs.
Schemes such as the New Colombo Plan will allow the future generation of Indo-Pacific leaders to not only learn about the region, but also to learn from it. By spending time in our respective locations learning the local language, adapting to the culture and building strong networks, we will emerge much better equipped to help shape the future of Australia’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.
We are all very grateful to the Australian Government for giving us this opportunity, and to say that we are looking forward to our in-country experiences is probably a huge understatement.
 

 This is an edited excerpt of a speech delivered at the New Colombo Plan award ceremony in Canberra on Wednesday.

NEW Colombo Plan Scholarship 

Two combined-degree students from the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific have won prestigious scholarships to study in Asia as part of the Government’s New Colombo Plan.
Emma Roberts will be jet setting to Indonesia as the inaugural Yudhoyono Fellow – one of only four fellowships which recognize the top-ranked candidate for Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.

Emma Roberts (right) with fellow ANU student Rebecca Wardell at Wednesday's award ceremony. Photo by Stuart Hay.
Nick Horton is headed to Japan.
The scholarships are worth up to $67,000 each and allow students to complete one to two semesters of study at an Asian university with the option of extending their in-country stay with a six-month internship.
Emma and Nick, along with fellow ANU student Rebecca Wardell, who was named the inaugural Singapore Fellow, were honored at an award ceremony in Canberra Wednesday, attended by the Australian Foreign Minister the Hon Julie Bishop.
Delivering the keynote address on behalf of all scholarship winners, Emma said she had fallen in love with Indonesia during her in-country study there last year.

“What I love most about Indonesia is the continuous hustle and bustle, the amazing hospitality of the people and the richness of Indonesia's many cultures,” she said.
As part of her combined law and Asia Pacific studies degree, Emma is keen to use her scholarship to extend her research on gender-based violence.
“I plan to spend a semester studying at Universitas Gadjah Mada and a semester conducting field research while based at Universitas Katholik Parahyangan, which fits into the Year in Asia program.

“I will then stay in Indonesia for an additional six months to undertake internships. My area of interest is the improvement of access to legal justice for victims of gender-based violence and I hope to undertake the study, research and internship components of my program in relation to this topic.

“I’m really passionate about looking at ways to improve access to justice for victims of gender-based and domestic violence in Indonesia. I’m studying Law and Indonesian, so I feel I have a skill set that I could use to contribute to make changes in Indonesia.”

Nick Horton, also a double-degree student in law and Asia Pacific studies, will use his scholarship to undertake a year-long exchange at the University of Tokyo.

He hopes to follow that with an internship at the Japan Institute of International Affairs, or the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
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