Dylan Male NCP Alumni Ambassador: From the Riverina to PNG

New Colombo Plan
Tuesday, January 28, 2020 - 11:00
  • New Colombo Plan
  • Papua New Guinea

Charles Sturt University student, Dylan Male, reflects on his “profoundly transformative “and “life-changing” New Colombo Plan scholarship to Papua New Guinea, and also shares his hopes and excitement for his new role as NCP Alumni Ambassador in 2020. Read more.

Introduction

Dylan Male grew up in regional New South Wales on his family farm, quickly developing a strong interest and passion for agriculture. In 2016, Dylan decided to pursue this interest, enrolling in a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons) at Charles Sturt University (CSU). There Dylan was able to better understand the agricultural industry and science behind it, as well as the local Riverina region and its incredible diversity. 

Applying for an NCP Scholarship:

Following an overseas study experience to Hawaii in 2017, Dylan developed an interest in the area of tropical agriculture and horticulture systems. It was from this study, as well as an understanding of the lack of agricultural-based research and adoption of modern agricultural practices in Papua New Guinea (PNG), that Dylan applied for an Australian Government New Colombo Plan (NCP) Scholarship. Dylan reflects on the NCP application process: 

“Honestly, when I first started researching the application process I didn't think I would stand a chance at being successful. But I applied, I dedicated a lot of time to completing the application process and... was successful in my application and awarded a scholarship and fellowship (that was by far the best email I had ever received).”

Dylan set off for PNG in early January 2019 to take up an exciting internship opportunity as part of his NCP Fellowship. 

“I commenced my internship with Wafi Golpu Joint Venture, a mining project attached to my NCP sponsor company Newcrest Mining. This internship enabled me to gain an insight into the work environment within a different country, whilst also providing countless opportunities to network and develop my professional skills.”

Breaking new ground as first Australian Undergraduate on-campus

Dylan commenced researching for his honors project at the conclusion of his internship at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology, becoming the first ever Australian undergraduate student to study there. His research focussed on “improving the productivity and sustainability of the agricultural system in PNG through increased scientific knowledge and understanding.” He also completed coursework and language training. It was here that Dylan was able to study alongside students from across PNG.

Reflecting on the cultural experience that accompanies studying in PNG, Dylan writes: 

“…despite our many differences, what surprised me most was how much I had in common with them. When the time came to leave the country, I had forged strong friendships that will endure a lifetime. I left with new knowledge and skills that will help me in my future career. I left having gained new perspectives and a deep understanding of PNG in all its rich diversity. I left with a realisation that PNG has so much to offer, and with a strong desire to return to the country and work in the future.”

NCP Alumni Program

Returning home, Dylan realised that the value of the NCP does not end when the scholarships concludes as all NCP program participants are able to join the NCP Alumni program. This program is a place where students canmaintain connections to each other, the NCP and the Indo-Pacific region as they progress in their lives and careers: 

Indeed, Dylan will be entering into a new role with the NCP – in 2020, Dylan will be the NCP Alumni Ambassador for CSU. He joins 50 other Australian students who are taking up an official role to promote the NCP, value of study in and engagement with the Indo-Pacific on campus and in communities across Australia, and foster an inclusive and vibrant alumni community.

Explaining his motivations in applying to be an Alumni Ambassador, Dylan says: 

“The success of my own NCP Scholarship program has been the key driver to me for applying to become a 2019-2020 NCP Alumni Ambassador. To put it simply, I want to do whatever I can, whenever and wherever I can, to encourage undergraduate students across Australia (particularly Charles Sturt University) to apply for the NCP Scholarship and Mobility programs.”

In 2019, Dylan joined the entire cohort of newly appointed NCP Alumni Ambassadors from across Australia at the Orientation Program in Canberra. Reflecting on the experience, Dylan notes the fantastic networking opportunity the Orientation provided as well as the practical learning he gained through targeted and thought-provoking workshops and activities to prepare him for the year ahead. Dylan says:

“The orientation has provided me with the confidence of knowing how to go about my role as NCP Alumni Ambassador and has heightened my excitement for the year ahead." 

Dylan writes that his NCP journey has been invaluable. Not only for his professional development but also for his own personal growth, and he is looking forward to inspiring others to also pursue opportunities in the Indo-Pacific region. 

In 2020, Dylan hopes to work closely with CSU Global to promote the NCP to students at regional campuses. He is also planning on establishing a CSU NCP Alumni group to help foster connections among returned NCP Alumni and to help them stay engaged with the program and the Indo-Pacific region.

For so many students, like Dylan, the NCP has been a life changing and transformational opportunity on many levels, but Dylan also recognises how the NCP is lifting knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia and deepening Australia's relationships in the region:

“It’s safe to say that the New Colombo Plan has an incredibly powerful and invaluable role in strengthening the relationship between Australia and our closest neighbours. Through a lifting of knowledge and an increase in understanding of each other.”