Zebelene Wates

New Colombo Plan
Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 14:00
  • New Colombo Plan
  • Philippines

A New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant in 2018 to the Philippines, helped Zebelene gain invaluable skills, new perspectives, and develop connections she continues to draw on in her professional career.

Inspired to take part in a two-week New Colombo Plan (NCP) Mobility Grant in 2018, Zebelene sought to gain a deeper understanding of Australia’s unique position in the world’s fastest growing economic region – the Indo-Pacific.

This led Zebelene, a Bachelor of Laws student formerly of Charles Darwin University, to an experience of a lifetime in the Philippines. “I wanted to gain a broad insight into the history of the Philippines and its shared history with Australia,” Zebelene says.

NCP Mobility Grant

Her study experience at De La Salle University (DLSU) provided an opportunity to gain an understanding of the Philippines’ contemporary challenges and opportunities from a legal and economic perspective, engage with local students and their families, and the national legal fraternity. “DLSU is renowned for its academic excellence, prolific research, and community service. I wanted to learn from accomplished academics in the Law faculty, engage with local students, and immerse myself in the language and culture of the Philippines,” she says.

Her Mobility Grant experience included a business reception at the residence of Australia’s Ambassador to the Philippines. For Zebelene, this event provided recognition of Australia’s strong trading, cultural and economic relationships with the Philippines. “By engaging with business leaders, government officials and accomplished legal professionals, I came to understand the significant role of Australia’s engagement with the Philippines,” she explains.

Developing networks and work-ready insights

Immersing herself in the language and culture of the Philippines, Zebelene connected with many local students. She continues to engage with them two years on from her NCP experience. “I cherish the friends I have made in the Philippines”, she explains.

Zebelene’s experience also enabled her to develop invaluable skills that she has since applied to her professional career. “Through the NCP, I developed the knowledge, understanding and skills to make it possible to engage actively and effectively with teams in Manila, Philippines. As a Senior Advisor with Ernst & Young in London, I engaged with these teams daily,” Zebelene says.

Zebelene’s experience has boosted her passion for law and she now seeks to pursue a legal career in the Indo-Pacific region. “I would strongly recommend the NCP to students who seek an intellectual challenge and personal growth. Although initially challenging, students will grow in character and learn to make the most of every opportunity.”