Ancient cultures combine to create change

A city in China.

Some of the world’s ancient cultures - Chinese and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - have joined hands in friendship to promote opportunities for students at The University of Queensland.

UQ’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (ATSIS) Unit and Confucius Institute (UQ CI) recently celebrated the participation of two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who took part in the UQ Research,Study and Experience Tour to China organised by the Institute.

The annual four-week program is based at Tianjin University (TJU), one of the top 10 universities in China.

Tour activities provide opportunities for participants to benefit from practical research experiences, develop a global view in their area of interest and grow a deeper understanding of the Chinese language and culture.

Engineering students Jade Yanner and Mason Rawling-Jones took part in the program, which has been running since 2010.

Mr Yanner, from the Atherton Tablelands region of Cairns in North Queensland, said the experience was transformational.

“The journey from my mob to China has been so incredible,” Mr Yanner said.

“It opened my eyes to the possibilities of further study in my chosen field as well as the opportunity to continue learning Chinese language and culture.

“Without the support of the Confucius Institute and the ATSIS Unit, I would never have had the chance to be part of the study tour.”

Nine Indigenous Australian students have participated in this annual initiative since 2015. In the inaugural year that ATSIS and UQ CI worked together, engineering students Michelle Heenan and Mitchell McDermott were selected by the ATSIS Unit to participate.

"A brief recount of my time in China cannot even begin to describe the amazing time I have had," Ms Heenan said.

Mr McDermott said that his trip was a key experience in his studies.

“There are so many other experiences and stories and knowledges gained from this trip that can't be expressed,” he said.

“I only hope that the limited amount I have shared is enough to convince any enquiring students to pursue this opportunity, it truly was an experience of a lifetime.”

UQ CI Director Professor Ping Chen said the tour is one of about 50 activities organised annually by the institute.

“It has been pleasure and an honour to work with Pro-Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Engagement Professor Frederick’s office in supporting Jade’s and Mason’s participation on the tour this year, and we plan to contribute further to Indigenous education,” Professor Chen said.

ATSIS Unit Director Shane Drahm said the tour provided a wonderful experience for students.

“The magnitude of this opportunity is difficult to express in words, be it the value in the networking opportunities the students are exposed to or the acquisition of valuable knowledge and understanding of Chinese culture and language,” he said.

The next China tour will be from 23 June to 20 July. More information is available at the UQ CI website.