By Kate Goodfruit
One of the features that makes the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan different to other scholarships is the ability for students to take part in internships in our Indo-Pacific region.
As a 2016 New Colombo Plan Scholar in Japan, my three months as an intern with the Australian Embassy Tokyo has been invaluable. The experience interning with DFAT far exceeded my initial expectations. Back home in Queensland, I study a Bachelor of International Studies at the University of Queensland, majoring in International Relations and Japanese. I’ve always had a strong passion for international affairs and Japan.
I developed a deep appreciation and respect for this unique nation during travel and previous exchange opportunities. The opportunity to combine both of my interests via the New Colombo Plan program and Embassy internship experience was very exciting.
Before my internship, I studied at Kyushu University, Fukuoka. The experience of living in Fukuoka and Tokyo was beneficial in terms of comparing different lifestyles in Japan.
Following my application for the Embassy’s internship program, which is advertised in September annually, I joined the Public Diplomacy Section, and immediately began collaborating with my colleagues to manage the Embassy’s Facebook and Twitter pages. The Public Diplomacy Section is responsible for the Embassy’s public outreach, and plays an integral role in proliferating a positive, contemporary image of Australia to our Japanese audience.
In addition to helping run the Embassy’s social media platform, I assisted with a busy events program. Highlights included meeting Qantas Wallabies players and coaches at a Qantas Wallabies Welcome Reception, held to welcome the team to Japan. This was an interesting experience and helped me understand the significant time and effort involved in event management. It also opened my eyes to DFAT’s sports diplomacy work and helped me in understanding how Australia employs its soft power.
I also helped out with a special commemorative lecture by the first Australian winner of the prestigious Kyoto Prize, Dr Graham Farquhar AO, part of the Embassy’s science diplomacy strategy.
I was fortunate to attend events including Austrade’s Study in Australia Fair, the Japan-Australia Joint Business Conference, and the recent World Assembly for Women – giving me a broad overview of many aspects of modern Australian diplomacy.
As a current New Colombo Plan scholar, I’ve benefited from being able to witness the program’s goals – such as building connections in the Indo-Pacific region – applied in context. I’ve really enjoyed my interactions with other New Colombo Plan scholars and mobility students at the Embassy, particularly a recent visit by Edith Cowan University students.
Assisting in the organisation of a networking event for New Colombo Plan students at the Embassy was a great opportunity to give back to the program and learn more about event management.
It’s also been valuable to see my personal interest in Japan mirrored by Australia’s deepening engagement with Japan. In my discussions with key Embassy staff members including the Ambassador to Japan, Richard Court AC, everyone agrees the relationship between our nations will continue to grow stronger.
The experience of working in the Embassy has been one of the highlights of my time in Japan. I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to work with supportive and like-minded colleagues on a daily basis, allowing me to further my Japanese skills.
My experience as an intern in the Australian Embassy in Japan has been everything I hoped it would be – and more! My understanding of international affairs and Japanese has increased and I have grown and developed as a person.
This internship has cemented my aspiration to work within international affairs and diplomacy. After wrapping up at the Embassy, I will undertake other internships before returning to Australia to complete my studies.
Being provided with the opportunity to live, study and work in Tokyo while on a New Colombo Plan scholarship has been phenomenal. Whilst Tokyo is a busy, densely populated city, it never ceases to amaze me there is always green space, festivals to attend, and places to relax. Life is never boring.
While I’m looking forward to returning home, I can see I won’t be able to stay away for too long.
Kate Goodfruit recently interned with the Australian Embassy Tokyo through the New Colombo Plan scholarship program. Kate is a student at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, studying International Relations and Japanese. In her spare time, Kate enjoys exploring Tokyo’s sprawling suburbs and catching up friends. She is passionate about international affairs and strengthening Australia’s diplomatic connections in our Indo-Pacific region, and hopes to work in this field in the future.