Thirteen VU students and two staff members have embarked on the 2018 Timor-Leste Study Tour, immersing themselves in Timorese culture for two weeks as part of the VU Timor-Leste Alliance.
The Study Tour combines representatives from the College of Arts & Education and for the first time, the College of Law & Justice. This has been made possible with funding from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s, New Colombo Plan, an Australian Government initiative that supports undergraduates to study in the Indo-Pacific region.
Senior Lecturer – College of Arts & Education, Dr Siew-Fang Law, is one of the VU staff members leading the tour.
“I am honoured to be invited to build on VU’s existing strong ties with Timor-Leste. The richness, depth, scope and nature of the partnerships have been beyond any other academic engagement I have seen.”
A pre-departure session was held on Wednesday 13 June, where special guests Hon. Jean McLean (Order of Timor-Leste recipient), retired judge Ian Gray, Dr Ann Wigglesworth and Ms Ana Noronha (Melbourne Consulate Administrator) gathered to visit the students involved and provide some parting wisdom.
Past students have spoken highly of the initiative. Bachelor of Teaching graduate Benjamin Foster traveled to Timor-Leste as part of his studies, reflecting that it was “definitely a highlight of my time at VU and something I will never forget". The study tour experience allows students such as Benjamin to put into practice what they are learning whilst also connecting with other professionals from diverse backgrounds.
Similarly, Timor-Leste students from the Dili Institute of Technology (DIT) and Universidade Nacional Timor Loroa’e (UNTL) have completed exchanges at VU campuses, with 173 Timorese alumni being welcomed to VU since 2003.
Angelo Monizjong is currently studying a Master of International Community Development after his friends recommended VU for its unique learning experience.
“I like that my classes are so multicultural – I have classmates from 15 countries, sharing real examples of what’s happening in their communities around the world.”
The 2018 Timor-Leste Study Tour group return on 21 July after completing an itinerary packed with museum and University visits, and meetings with international dignitaries and ambassadors.
Study Tours and student exchanges are just one aspect of VU’s commitment to Timor-Leste, which is now over 30 years in the making. The T-L Alliance also fosters collaboration and innovation in the areas of education and service development, academic engagement, community service and government connection.