New Colombo Plan Pilot Program Launch in Tokyo by Shojeeb Alam

Shojeeb with AbbottThe New Colombo Plan (NCP) is a welcome new initiative by the Australian Government to promote the study of an Asian Language overseas in an Asian country. I was one of a handful of fortunate Monash students that had applied to go on exchange to Japan to receive the NCP grant. As recipients of the NCP grant, we were invited to the Australian Embassy, where we combined the traditional Japanese event of ‘Sakura flower-viewing’ with a traditional Australian BBQ, and to the launch event at Tokyo Kaikan. Furthermore, as one of the first recipients of the NCP grant, I was selected to make a speech in Japanese at the launch event in Tokyo on the 7th of April, in front of many distinguished guests including Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and Minister Shimomura, the Japanese education minister.

As daunting as making a speech in another language may sound, I was also excited at the opportunity to represent not only Monash University, but the next generation of Australians who will contribute to strengthening our international relationship with Japan.

Video of the speech is also available from youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIM3wAsL2DY

In my speech I spoke about how when students are exchanged, personal connections between Japan and Australia are also increased. And when those students return home, they continue to be connected through a “thread” that we call the internet. I spoke about how as more students go on exchange these “threads” connecting each individual university strengthen further, and that as the “threads” connecting Japan and Australia continue to multiply, the international relationship between our countries would also develop further. Over the next few months, I hope to teach more Japanese people about Australia’s culture, sports and lifestyle as well as learn more about the culture and lifestyle of Japan myself.

BBQ Photo

NCP BBQ at Australian Embassy in Tokyo Monash Students in attendance: Stephanie Luo, Stephanie Kwok, Charleen Lay, Arno Xu, Jackson Thomas, Mark Watson and Shojeeb Alam

All in all, it was a surreal experience being in the same place with the many powerful CEOs and political figures from all around the world also in attendance. I’m very grateful to all those who were involved in making the NCP and to the staff at Monash who nominated us to be recipients of the grant. Thank you very much!

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