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New Columbo Plan (NCP) supports Deakin Business School students to undertake work-integrated learning study tours in Japan & Vietnam

The generous support of New Columbo Plan (NCP) in 2023 enabled Deakin Business School students to take their studies to Japan and Vietnam on 14-day work-integrated learning study and cultural tours.

The generous support of New Columbo Plan (NCP) in 2023 enabled Deakin Business School students to take their studies to Japan and Vietnam on 14-day work-integrated learning study and cultural tours.

The New Columbo Plan is an Australian Government initiative which aims to lift knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia by supporting undergraduates to undertake study experiences in the Indo-Pacific. Thanks to NCP, two groups of Deakin Business School students were lucky to have the experience of a lifetime with study tour programs that allowed them to fast track their learning by condensing a core unit of work into a two-week intensive.

Vietnam study tour

The Vietnam study tour was held in Ho Chi Minh City with our partner Vietnam National University.  Led by Academic Dr Quan Vu, with support from Patricia Dobson, the students were divided into four small teams and assigned clients to work with. The groups took part in cultural activities, team projects and ran presentations on how to improve the client’s business ideas.

Dr Quan Vu says the Vietnam tour gave students who study online the chance to interact with their peers. “The trip was a great opportunity for them to meet each other, and explore a new country/culture, which overall provides valuable experiences to them,” Dr Vu says.

Strong friendships were formed throughout the fortnight and students really appreciated the new connections. “Many of the client companies are run by young, talented people, which would be great examples for our students to learn from,” Dr Vu says. “Our students learnt many new techniques and experiences throughout the study tour.”

Student Jessie-Lee Curtis attended the Vietnam study tour and says the having the opportunity to travel overseas with other Deakin students and to work, study and explore a new country together was one of the most unique experiences she’s ever had. “I’ve acquired professional connections and formed lifelong friendships; I’ve outgrown old comfort zones and have a whole new perspective,” Jessie-Lee says. “Working alongside the entrepreneurial leaders of our host organisation and learning their business was such a humbling, real world experience.”

Jessie also found that collaborating with students from various disciplines gave her an insight into strengths she didn’t know she had and highlighted some growth areas too. “As a cloud student you can feel quite isolated studying online but taking part in this overseas WIL unit has helped me feel more involved, and more connected than ever before. I am so grateful for this experience, a huge thank you to Deakin WIL team and the NCP program for making this possible.”

Japan study tour

The Japan NCP study tour was held in Shiga, with our partner Shiga University. Led by Associate Professor Harminder Singh with support from Alison Cossey, Harminder worked with the student groups to address the problems presented by four industry clients: Eirakuya (Buddhist altar company), Hikone Castle, Okamura Honke (Sake brewery), and Yonbancho Square (tourist attraction). In addition to the industry projects, the program included a range of cultural activities, Japanese language sessions and a visit to the Australian Embassy.

Student Oscar Hide attended the Japan study tour and found experiencing a new culture and navigating the language barrier was a new and amazing experience. “Having the freedom and respect with our lecturers allowed us to pick and choose what we did in free time allowed us to try new restaurants, meet new people and see new cities,” Hide says. Despite travelling with a group of relative strangers, by day two everyone had grown close.

“Working with local clients as consultants and communicating with them via translators was an amazing experience and giving them suggestions, that you could see they were visibly excited to look into implementing, made me feel like I was making a real difference and has made me want to pursue consulting as a potential career,” Hide says.

Deakin Business School’s Alisson Cossey supported Assoc. Prof Singh in leading the Japan tour and enjoyed the trip on many levels. “I felt very fortunate to escape Melbourne’s winter and my day-to-day life to oversee such a great group of students,” Cossey says. “We all embraced the opportunity knowing the journey is just as important as the destination. I was really impressed with their business acumen, level of professionalism and how they conducted themselves along the way to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers.” Cossey says the experience enabled everyone to immerse themselves into the rich culture that goes hand in hand with business in Japan. “I highly encourage everyone to gain valuable international experiences that will set you apart in the jobs market and create a personal highlight that will stay with you forever.”

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