The Asia Future Fellows program is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that provides Griffith University  and Peking University students the opportunity to experience each culture, expand their knowledge and understanding of the Sino-Australian relationship, and build long-lasting friendships and networks. One of the greatest highlights of the program for me was being able to write a collaborative research paper with both my fellow Griffith University students and the Peking University students. The time spent coordinating across countries, cultures and disciplines to write a paper taught me vital skills that can be transferred to the workplace and provided me with an excellent addition to my resume. My personal experience with the program is one of unforgettable memories and amazing opportunities that extend beyond the program to strengthen my international network and professional development.

My plan for the final trimester followed a tight schedule: spend a week in Beijing for the Asia Future Fellows program, spend two months in Shanghai undertaking an internship, and then one month in South Korea for short-term study. During the final week of the program in Beijing, the Fellows attended a dinner that gave us the opportunity to network with members of the Australia-China Youth Association (ACYA) as well as some New Colombo Plan students and previous Fellows. As an ACYA member myself, I found it extremely valuable to be able to meet the members in China and was fortunate enough to talk with the China Manager of ACYA. The following day, I was invited to be fully sponsored by ACYA and the Australian Embassy to attend the 6th Foundation for Australian Studies in China Conference (FASIC6) in Chengdu. This was an amazing experience, as the conference was directly related to my degree and helped me to expand my networks in China even further. Without the Asia Future Fellows program, I never would have had the opportunity to attend such an important event and meet leading researchers in the Australia-China space.

During the conference, I was able to meet the ACYA Shanghai Manager and other members that lived in Shanghai, and had many recommendations and tips provided to me. When I was trying to find a place to stay for a few nights before I would be able to move into my internship accommodation, the Shanghai Manager found an ACYA member in Shanghai that was happy to let me stay with her and her family. Staying with a local Chinese family made my experience even more enriching and unique, more so than if I had stayed in a hotel by myself. Even after the conference in Chengdu, I was able to meet with numerous ACYA China executives and further improve my connections to China.

The Asia Future Fellows program enabled me to meet many wonderful people and have such amazing experiences that would not have been possible without it. The connections and relationships I have built during my time with the program will stay with me well into the future, and the skills I have learnt will aid me in any work I do. I highly recommend that all Griffith students apply for this program, even if they don’t have an interest in China or think that the program is not relevant to them. This is a wonderful opportunity that should not be missed, and you never know what may come of it.

Article by Darcie Fisher, Bachelor of Business and Asian Studies student and President of ACYA Griffith Chapter.