2020 New Colombo Plan Scholar - Andy Tran
Andy Tran is a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering and Bachelor of Finance student who will begin studying at the National Taiwan University in Semester 2 2020. As a recipient of a 2020 New Colombo Plan Scholarship, Andy has been funded for his exchange in Taiwan as well as an additional internship experience.
We interviewed Andy shortly after he received his scholarship acceptance.
“I was actually meant to be on my gap year travelling the world in 2020, because I really didn’t think that I would get the scholarship. I love travel so much, because learning about different cultures and values is really interesting, and combined they can give me a new perspective and help me shape my thoughts. The understanding I get from experiencing different cultures helps me to understand the world and keep learning. In a way, I can never see myself not learning. I want to keep learning for the rest of my life.”
Andy described to us the moment he received his acceptance email:
“I was a little confused when I opened the email. I didn’t really feel like I was overly competitive as a candidate, so when I opened it, it was very exciting and once I realised, it felt like everything opened up.
I had notes and stuff for the interview, but in the moment I didn’t remember to use them. The interview itself was very friendly and relaxed – it felt like a conversation.”
On choosing Taiwan as the destination for his NCP experience, Andy says:
“It’s really appealing to me, but it’s also one of the places that you tend to forget about. They make effectively all of our computers, but no one thinks about that, they think it’s China and Japan. The people [in Taiwan] are really friendly, there’s a lot of nature, like hiking and stuff too. Learning Mandarin is obviously really important as well, and there aren’t that many places where Mandarin is spoken widely outside of mainland China. Taiwan is quite progressive too, and has an increasingly Westernised culture with strong traditional Chinese and Japanese influence that would be really interesting to explore."
"The best part of Taiwan is that you can learn Mandarin for an extended period of time, in a place with friendly people who are more than willing to help you out if you need. Understanding the nuances of the country and learning how to work there, as well as being able to meet people and make friends is something you can really only get from living there for a long time.
I’ll also be able to travel a lot. I can learn about lots of different countries in the region and see some pretty cool sights as well.”
In 2018, Andy completed a short Engineers without Borders program in Nepal.
“We learnt about the design process and how they integrate engineering ideas with cultural skills. We spent about a week in this Nepalese village and used translators to speak with the locals to work out what they needed. My team and I listened to their ideas about wanting to keep young people in the village and share their way of life, so we came up with the idea to create a centralised Facebook page. This way, they could use Facebook instead of face-to-face meetings to communicate. Tourists could also organise transport to and from the village, a local tour guide, find places to stay, etc., so it was much easier for them to engage.”
“A couple of years ago I went to Japan, and I’ve done a little travel in Asia, New Zealand, and some parts of Europe when I was younger. With this program, I’ll be able to actually learn the local language for a long period of time, beyond general class work. And more of a deep-dive into the culture, their values, and nuances.”
Andy is looking forward to how his overseas experience will help him advance in his field and future career:
“The internships that I’ll be able to do – those opportunities are far greater than what I would have had without it [the scholarship]. They’re less mining-focused and more manufacturing-focused. Obviously Taiwan has the semiconductors that they produce, plastics, and more. I would like to look into the recycling or sustainable materials fields. With NCP, I’ll be looking to see what opportunities lie in the greater Indo-Pacific region.
It wouldn’t be wise to predict the future, but I think what I want to do when I finish university will appear later down the track. I see myself potentially in the water, materials, or cosmetics industries, doing something that’s good for the environment. I hope to be in a big city, maybe Melbourne or overseas.
I think the NCP program will help me define my goals, because I think all the NCP opportunities will help me work out where I want to end up.”
Andy works as a Succeed@Adelaide Ambassador for the Faculty of Professions and is completing an engineering internship with the process technology and horticulture team at Jurlique International leading up to his departure for Taiwan in July. Stay up to date with Andy’s NCP experience via our Instagram.