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Scholar reflections: Drishya Gurung

Posted: 20 March 2020

Nepal, Experience, In Australia,

Drishya Gurung is currently pursuing a Master of Education at Monash University through an Australia Awards Scholarship. Before receiving the Scholarship, Drishya was working for Teach for Nepal—a movement towards ending educational inequity in Nepal—as a Leadership Development Manager. Drishya joined Teach for Nepal as a fellow after she graduated with a Bachelor in Asian Studies from Asian University for Women, Bangladesh. As an ardent believer of equal access to education for all, Drishya is committed to eliminating education injustice in Nepal.

Drishya is being featured as the face of Australia Awards – Nepal as part of promotions encouraging people to apply for Scholarships for study commencing in 2021. Through her reflections below, we get an insight into her Australia Awards experience.

What motivated you to apply for Australia Awards?

There were a few reasons behind my decision to apply for an Australia Awards Scholarship: Australia has internationally recognised universities; it is a unique, diverse and beautiful country to live in; and Australia Awards has invested in and tailored an inclusive support system. I also felt encouraged to apply as Australia Awards alumni always speak highly of the Program.

Australia Awards scholar Drishya Gurung (second from right) with fellow scholars from Nepal at the University of Melbourne

How did you find the application process?

I would say the whole application process was smooth. All the information about the Scholarship is clearly provided on the website for all kinds of prospective applicants. It is in written format as well as documented in short videos for those who prefer visual learning. The application process for Australia Awards is very inclusive and provides clear information in each step. It is easy to follow the instructions and easy to navigate around. However, if there is any confusion, Australia Awards teams are just a call or an email away. I found the team to be as accommodating as possible to all the applicants.

What would be your suggestions to the new applicants to be successful?

For new applicants, I would reiterate a few basic tips that I found very useful:

  • It is very important to know and understand the objectives of the Scholarships.
  • It is essential to prepare each required document before the deadline.
  • Do not hesitate to reach out to the Australia Awards team if you have any concerns or issues during the process.
  • Your passion for your field of study should clearly translate into your writing as well as in verbal communication.
  • Be genuine and confident.

How was the guidance you received from Australia Awards throughout the process?

From the moment I began my application to the point when I was selected, to the pre-departure briefing and right up to the present, I feel like the Australia Awards team has always been by my side. Aside from my being anxious (like anyone applying for a prestigious scholarship), the application process went smoothly, without any hassles. There were a few hiccups along the way after application, but each was resolved quickly with the support of Australia Awards staff.

After attending the pre-departure briefing, I saw how carefully the whole Program is tailored and how scholar-focused it is. The briefing not only gave us an opportunity to mingle with fellow scholars but also provided a chance to listen to alumni. I was pleased to learn about the potential challenges and opportunities. Small yet important touches (such as encouraging scholars to bring their spouses to the pre-departure briefing, navigating carefully around gender roles and cultural differences, and addressing genuine concerns of scholars who are also parents) really sets Australia Awards apart from all other scholarship programs. After Australia Awards scholars move to Australia, they are supported by Student Contact Officers from each university. The Student Contact Officer at Monash was the first person I contacted for support whenever I had any concerns or encountered issues here in Australia.

Drishya presenting at a recent Australia Awards – South and West Asia Scholars Forum

How has your experience in Australia been so far?

The experience in Australia so far has been rewarding. Living in Australia as an Australia Awards scholar is a unique experience. Through my academic studies and activities, I have been able to explore my field of study further and have developed a global perspective on it. It is an enriching experience in both the academic and non-academic arenas. While I am having intense political discussions with my flatmates from other countries, I also thoroughly enjoy listening to the different perceptions of our country and different perspectives on the topics that I care about. I would say my first year in Australia was a learning-in-progress in so many ways; I’m really looking forward to my second year.

What would you say was your most significant achievement or highlight of your time in Australia?

There is no one significant achievement; rather, there are many small moments and accomplishments that I treasure. However, the common factors among them would be enhanced networking and continual learning. Being selected to attend Australia Awards Scholars Forums focusing on themes I am deeply passionate about gave me an opportunity to meet with like-minded people from different parts of the world, and also helped me expand my knowledge on the topics. Similarly, the professional development opportunities organised by Monash enabled me to learn more about diverse approaches, specifically on education, along with different issues and practices. The aspect that intrigued me the most about Australia is the nature of the country’s interventions on various challenges within the field of education.

When you return home, how do you plan to use the knowledge and experience you gained in Australia to develop your career and contribute towards the development of Nepal?

People often see education only as a means to economic freedom. As a result, they miss other essential aspects such as critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving and emotional wellbeing. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of these skills, especially when an increasing number of children and youth are caught between conventional norms and the influence of globally newfound ideas and practices. It is also important to recognise how different forms of injustice and inequalities influence children’s growth and learning, thereby affecting a whole generation. I see myself working towards re-envisioning and redesigning education itself as a tool to end broader social, cultural, economic and political inequities and injustices.

Anything you would like to add?

I am incredibly grateful for the support and opportunities provided by the Australia Awards teams in Nepal and Australia, the Australian Government, and all the individuals making it all possible.

Drishya with fellow Australia Awards scholars at a recent Scholars Forum

Applications for Australia Awards Scholarships, for studying commencing in 2021, are now open and will close 30 June 2020. Learn more