Prime Minister’s Scholarship students getting ready to fly

14 December 2022

Kurt Macalister is heading to Brazil on the Latin America Indigenous Rights and Histories in Brazil programme.

While most of us are winding down to a relaxing holiday season, a number of lucky students will spend the next few weeks planning for the trip of a lifetime, thanks to the Prime Minister’s Scholarships.

In all, 28 students from University of Waikato will be heading to Brazil, India, Viet Nam and Taiwan on fully funded scholarship programmes that will see them become global citizens, taking the culture of Aotearoa to the world, and bringing a taste of the world home with them in return. Six students will wing their way to Brazil, six to India, eight to Vietnam and eight to Taiwan.

While overseas, students will undertake an immersive in-country study tour across India; experience an eight-week internship in their field of study within a local company in Vietnam; work collaboratively towards a possible solution to a real problem faced by a local indigenous organisation in Brazil; or explore different areas of Indigenous development significant to both Māori and Indigenous nations in Taiwan.

Tessa Ewens, a Bachelor of Management Studies with honours student, majoring in Strategic Management and Economics, is preparing to travel to Ho Chi Minh City in Viet Nam for her six- week internship. She’s had her eye on study abroad throughout her degree and while she hadn’t considered Viet Nam, the scholarship has opened the door to an exciting opportunity.

“Vietnam’s culture is highly community oriented, so I am very excited to experience a culture where caring for others is so important,” Tessa says. “Vietnamese business culture is also said to be relationship-oriented and as someone that loves meeting people and building relationships, this is really exciting. I have also heard that Vietnamese people are incredibly optimistic which aligns closely with my values.”

Students from the Latin America Indigenous Rights and Histories in Brazil programme. Kurt Macalister (bottom right) is excited to share Aotearoa New Zealand's culture as well as Te Ao Māori with the world.

The chance to experience new cultures is also important to Margret Mage, a Bachelor of Science student with a Psychology major and Anthropology minor. Magret is heading to Brazil on the Latin America Indigenous Rights and Histories in Brazil programme.

“This will be my first time going to Brazil. I’ve always imagined going there, just captivated by its richness of culture, vibrant people, and nature. There will be a lot to gain from this experience, it's like stepping into the unknown which is what I love about it. It reminds me a lot of my own home country Papua New Guinea.”

Kurt Macalister, who has just finished his first year of a Bachelor of Teaching in Early Childhood Education at the University’s Tauranga campus, is also heading to Brazil with the programme.

“I am excited to visit Brazil and the indigenous communities to learn more about their culture, history, customs, rights and way of life,” Kurt says. “I am also excited to share all about Aotearoa New Zealand as well as Te Ao Māori and I am grateful for this wonderful chance for cross-cultural sharing. I also am very much looking forward to the food, music and the vibrant atmosphere in Brazil.

“This wonderful opportunity means so much to me because I believe it is important to understand cultures from around the world as a Kaiako in an early childhood education setting. It is also a responsibility to share our own culture and this experience will strengthen my ability to do that.”

The Reimagining India Study tour students. Morgan Koster (second from left, front row) hopes her experiences will inspire future students.

The chance to put theory into practice is key to Philosophy and Anthropology student Morgan Koster, who is also studying Political Science. Morgan will be heading to India on the Reimagining India Study Tour and is looking forward to diving deep into the history of philosophy in India.

“I was introduced to Indian and Eastern philosophy when looking into the inspiration and guiding values behind the counter culture movement of the 60's and 70's,” Morgan says. “This led me to delve further into Eastern philosophies. I find that they often portray the world so magically and profoundly, yet with an indescribable truth and stunning simplicity that resonates deep within me.

“While this cultural area has been on my radar for some time, I never imagined I would have an opportunity, as wonderful as this, to connect so intimately with ideas, ways of life and worldviews that I have loved from afar.”

Morgan says she hopes her experiences will inspire future students to take part in the chance to see and experience more of the world.

“The social sciences are special because they can act as the catalyst for a change in the way we see the world and connect with others. It equips us with a mindset that can recognise the majesty of human difference while always being underpinned by the idea that we humans share for more than what divides us.

“This programme will allow me to explore and appreciate the wondrous creations of a completely foreign cultural area and yet connect with people in a fundamental, universal way that transcends apparently disparate existences.”

Jaydene Meadows manages the Global Experiences team within the University’s International Office and oversees these opportunities for students.

"The Prime Minister's Scholarships are an amazing initiative. They are a way for our students to see the world through a new lens,” Jaydene says.

“In an increasingly tough economic environment, the scholarships also allow students who wouldn't typically be able to study abroad to grow their global cultural competence skills in ways they would have never imagined. I am looking forward to a full year of promotion of these scholarships next year, to support an increased number of Waikato students testing the boundaries of who they are as they develop as global citizens through PMSA and PMSLA programmes".

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