2016 New Columbo Plan Scholar, Myanmar – James Barklamb

James Barklamb talks about being a New Colombo Plan Scholar

As one of two inaugural scholars to be sent to Myanmar, I will be engaging with one of the most significant political and governmental transitions in the recent history of the Indo-Pacific. The transformative election victory of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's party promises a period of rapid development, democratisation and international engagement of which I am extremely fortunate and excited to be a part.

As an ambassador for, and agent of, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, I aim to engage with influential business, non-profit and academic organisations, in a manner that will strengthen the growing diplomatic, political and economic ties between Australia and Myanmar.

In immersing myself in the social challenges confronting Myanmar's citizens, I aim to build on my work within the Access Monash Program as a Monash Community Leaders Scholar and the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience as an advocate for educational access and social mobility. In particular, having worked with the Southern Ethnic Advisory and Advocacy Council in supporting students whose families have sought refuge in Australia, I hope to document how the spectre of ethnic conflict affects the educational development of Myanmar's youth and drives refugee movement.

In addressing Myanmar's politically and ethnically sensitive governmental transition, I hope to build on my work in Rwanda at the Commission for the Fight Against Genocide and my studies with the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University. As a 2016 scholar, I owe a debt of gratitude to both the ACJC and the Arts Faculty more broadly, for supporting my studies and developing an internship network that places interns in positions of real responsibility and encourages students to be bold in engaging with leaders in their field of interest.

The incredible opportunities which will come my way in Myanmar are a testament to the global outlook and reach that Monash pursues for all its students. In particular, the dedication and commitment of Trevor Goddard and his team at Global Engagement, as well as the team at Monash Abroad, were undeniably crucial in supporting the success of all nine Monash scholars.