Johnny Nguyen

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

Applying for an NCP Mobility grant in 2019 to study and undertake an internship in India, Johnny began a journey that would expand his personal horizons, enrich his educational experiences, and hone valuable work skills to better prepare for life after university.

“I am the son of two disabled Vietnamese refugees. Growing up, I was taught to live within our family’s means. I grew to view overseas travel as something that I couldn’t afford and something I eventually accepted as unachievable for me. The New Colombo Plan Mobility Program was the first time I had ever been offered an opportunity to travel overseas. This was the first time I had genuinely reconsidered an international experience and career. I was ecstatic.”

Learning about New Colombo Plan Mobility grants offered by the Australian Government to students for study and internships up to six months in countries across the Indo-Pacific, was about to change Johnny’s life.  

After enrolling in a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Advanced Business Leadership and Finance at Western Sydney University, Johnny began to develop a “child-like sense of curiosity about what the world outside of Sydney looked like.” He wanted to “walk in the shoes of others who saw the world from a different perspective” and learn about the customs, cultures and histories of people outside of Australia.

 Applying for an NCP Mobility grant in 2019 to study and undertake an internship in India, Johnny began a journey that would expand his personal horizons, enrich his educational experiences, and hone valuable work skills to better prepare for life after university.

NCP India: Studying, Interning & the High Commission

Between December, 2015 and February, 2016 Johnny undertook an NCP Mobility study tour in India, fulfilling his new-found curiosity for international travel, study and work.

After completing a short course at Mumbai’s St Xavier’s College to learn about the fundamentals of Indian society, culture and history, Johnny entered a full-time internship with GiveIndia. The organisation is one of India’s largest non-profits, and during his time there, Johnny was tasked with creating an organisational social media marketing strategy.

In this role,  Johnny made the most of the opportunity to develop skills in marketing, communications and business,  and also learn about his India and its unique business practices.

“I learnt just how diverse India was. Contrary to my own prior beliefs, India was not a homogenous culture but several individual cultures … It didn’t take me long to realise that the most successful non-profit organisations had tailored their social media marketing to particular religious, ethnic or geographic groups.”

During his time overseas, Johnny was provided with the opportunity to meet the Australian High Commissioner to India and several of their staff, highlighting the significant networking opportunity afforded to NCP students.

The lessons learned, and influence which the NCP has had on Johnny’s life, have been significant:

 “First, it has improved my resilience, adaptability and self-confidence. Living and working overseas subjected me to a host of new challenges. I became resilient because I grew accustomed to facing and overcoming challenges. Understanding that I needed to change the way I viewed and solved problems made me more adaptable.”

Importantly, living in India also allowed Johnny to develop a greater sense of cultural awareness, developing a “fuller understanding of how other people experience the world”, and making him “more aware of people’s struggles and more able to step in to assist”.

The NCP has also been one of the most impactful professional development opportunities for Johnny, noting that the NCP changed his “perspective on the world and the possibility of international careers”. He continues:

“I transformed from someone who had accepted he could not access international travel or careers to someone who now actively pursues and receives those opportunities… I hope to significantly increase my engagement with the Indo-Pacific throughout my career.”

Returning Home: Taking up the Role of NCP Alumni Ambassador

After returning to Australia, Johnny wanted to advocate for the NCP and its benefits to the students of Western Sydney University. It is for this reason that he applied to be a NCP Alumni Ambassador.

NCP Alumni Ambassadors are passionate and motivated NCP Alumni, who want to give back and help others like themselves. Alumni Ambassadors have an official role on-campus as representatives of the NCP, promoting the value of NCP for study in and engaging with the Indo-Pacific, and foster an inclusive and vibrant alumni community.

As an NCP Alumni Ambassador, Johnny hopes to increase awareness about the NCP so that all students, no matter their background, can have access to the opportunities he has had.

NCP Alumni Ambassador Training:

To equip Johnny and other newly appointed NCP Alumni Ambassadors from across Australia, with the skills, knowledge and networks to perform their new role, John joined with other newly appointed Alumni Ambassadors for a two-day Orientation Program in Canberra in November, 2019.

Reflecting on the program, Johnny writes:

“The Orientation in Canberra was itself one of the highlights of my New Colombo Plan experience. Primarily, it equipped Alumni Ambassadors with the tools and contacts to effectively promote the New Colombo Plan…At the end of the Orientation, I felt well and truly prepared to tackle my new role coming into the new year.”

Most importantly, being an NCP Alumni Ambassador will allow Johnny to contribute towards the growing NCP alumni community of young Australians engaged in the Indo-Pacific. A community which he describes as, “moving towards a single greater objective” of engaging with the Indo-Pacific region and making the reality of studying in the region possible for all future and current Australian students.

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