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First Nations student to experience Fijian culture as part of study tour

[by Bruce Andrews]

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Mr Nicholas McCormack.​ Image: supplied

A Charles Sturt University First Nations student will experience global citizenship when he travels to Fiji for a two-week study tour funded by the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan initiative. 

The New Colombo Plan is a signature initiative of the Australian Government aiming to increase knowledge of the Indo Pacific in Australia by supporting Australian undergraduates to study and undertake internships in the region.

Manager of Charles Sturt Global Ms Samantha Ambridge said Mr Nicholas McCormack (pictured), a second-year Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) student in the Charles Sturt School of Education, will join the study tour.

“The study tour opportunity is offered through Charles Sturt Global in conjunction with a program for First Nations students at universities that are part of the Regional University Network (RUN),” Ms Ambridge said.

“In this unprecedented multi-institutional First Nations study tour to Fiji, students will learn about Fijian culture and society while also exploring Fijian history and the stunning natural environment.

“Nicholas will join students from several other Australian universities to attend this two-week program coordinated by CISAustralia.”

“The program also links to a Charles Sturt University subject, so not only can the student gain deep insights into other First Nations cultures they will also be completing some of their degree at the same time.”

Mr McCormack is a proud Nauo man from the lower Eyre Peninsula. His hometown is Whyalla in South Australia where he attended Edward John Eyre High School, but he now lives in Hobart, Tasmania, and studies online.

He said the chance to travel to Fiji and take part in the First Nations study tour is an exciting opportunity.

“As an Aboriginal person, my own culture and the cultures of others are really important to me, and are something I draw on in my teaching,” Mr McCormack said.

“Travelling to Fiji and engaging in this program is an amazing opportunity that will not only deepen my knowledge of different cultures but will also help me to motivate and inspire children and others in my industry to celebrate culture and diversity.”

The study tour offers a range of experiences, including attending a class on race relations in the Pacific Islands at the University of the South Pacific; learning about public health activities undertaken at the World Health Organisation (WHO); seeing how community-based non-government organisations (NGOs) work to foster self-reliance and sustainable development; staying at a remote mountain village where they’ll learn traditional ecological knowledge while foraging for bush tucker.

The program study tour is from Saturday 18 November to Sunday 3 December.

The $3,000 New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant goes to travel and program costs for the students’ international travel and in-country living expenses during the program.

The tour will be guided by a First Nations Elder and University of Southern Queensland academic Dr Lisa Ryan, and the students will have the chance to reflect on how these experiences can help individual First Nations people contribute to their own communities and professions.

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