Two University of Southern Queensland students are set to swap the comforts of home for the teachings of new cultures, after each being awarded a prestigious New Colombo Plan Scholarship.

Tiarn Barton-Ilic and Holly Yarrow will soon jet off to different parts of Asia for a semester of study, which will build their connections and learning experiences. The New Colombo Plan is an Australian Government initiative which aims to strengthen the country’s ties with the Indo-Pacific region by providing study and work experience opportunities in more than 40 locations.

Ms Barton-Ilic, who has just completed her second year of Psychology, has chosen to do her semester of study at Akita University in Japan. “I can’t even describe how I felt when I first heard the news – it took me a while to process it,” Ms Barton-Ilic said. “I’ve been interested in Japan since I was young, and I can’t wait to see the differences in community structure and how it impacts on mental health and wellbeing. I first went into psychology because I wanted to delve into how the brain controls our behaviours and actions, so this trip will definitely be educational.”

Thousands of kilometres away, Ms Yarrow will be settling in for a semester at Universitas Pelita Harapan, Indonesia, where she will be continuing to work on her Bachelor of Arts, majoring in International Relations and Legal Studies. “I have always been interested in how the world works,” Ms Yarrow said. “I wanted to go somewhere where I could go on an adventure and do a few hikes, a place that was developing both politically and socially. I looked at the courses that Universitas Pelita Harapan offered and they were really relevant to what I was studying – I’ll be learning a lot about regionalism, the ASEAN and the future of the Indo-Pacific.”

Ms Yarrow said the experience would be extremely beneficial when it came to her future plans. “My big goal is to work for the Department of Defence – where I will use my experience to help shape policies and benefit the Australian community,” she said. “With the rise of globalisation, it would be great to help our countries work together.”

Ms Barton-Ilic and Ms Yarrow join a cohort of 125 other students, who will travel to 22 host locations in 2022.

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