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.

Being provided with the opportunity to live, study and work in Tokyo while on a New Colombo Plan scholarship has also 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.

The United Nations General Assembly was packed. The occasion was the opening of the Conference of State Parties on the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD), which fellow DFAT officer Tim Balin and I attended in June as part of an International Skills Development Program.

The Shangri-La dialogue has grown to be one of the biggest strategic gatherings in the world. Attending such a large conference was exciting – the energy and buzz in the room was palpable and it was amazing being part of the journey of the conference as it built a shared understanding of key themes and regional challenges.

In 2013, as a young Indigenous beach-loving Queenslander, the thought of moving to land-locked Canberra for a graduate position was at first daunting for Emily Pugin. However she soon discovered all that Canberra has to offer- and has seen the world while she’s at it.

DFAT has been on quite a journey over the past 20 years. We now have a growing cadre of highly skilled and motivated Indigenous officers who are advancing Australia’s national interests at home and abroad.

As part of Australia’s commitment to greater recognition of human rights, our embassies in the Mekong are working with governments and civil society to promote rights for LGBTI people.

With huge smiles, the business people I met shared exciting plans for attracting inward investment and driving local exports into new markets. I had come to talk about the importance of expanding trade with South East Asia but they were ahead of me and had so much to share.