Nisha Singh presents at the Australian International Education Conference in 2017. Photos: Australia Awards South and West Asia
Australia Awards scholar from Nepal, Nisha Singh, presented at the Australian International Education Conference (AIEC) in Hobart in October last year. Her inspiring presentation touched on the social and personal barriers she has overcome in order to undertake her scholarship. Nisha is currently studying a Master of Education (Leadership and Management) at Flinders University and was working as a teacher before embarking on her Scholarship. Coming from a background in which education is not a priority for women, and is often not supported by their families, Nisha applied for an Australia Awards Scholarship and was successful in her application. However, after sharing the news with her family, she was met with resistance and was asked not to accept. Her parents worried that travelling by herself and studying independently would reduce their chances of finding her a husband. Nisha originally declined the scholarship offer.
Fortunately, with the counselling of the Australia Awards Nepal team, Nisha decided to embark on her Scholarship and mobilised to Flinders University where she is now halfway through her studies.
During her presentation at the AIEC, Nisha shared per personal journey – including the challenges she faced as a woman and as a member of a marginalised group in Nepal. Nisha explained how the Australia Awards Program has supported her, and how she strives to create change.
Nisha shared the source of her motivation, and what she hopes to achieve having studied in Australia. Nisha then spoke about some of the prominent female alumnae of the Australia Awards South and West Asia Program, and highlighted the importance of ensuring that education for women becomes a priority for all groups in her country, and in others.
At the conclusion of Nisha’s presentation, she was met with a round of applause, and declared she hoped that when a future awardee presents on the achievements of female alumnae, she herself would be among the next generation of successful women bringing about change.
Below, Nisha reflects on the conference and what she learnt.
‘I feel extremely honoured to participate as a speaker in the AIEC 2017. It was a moment of pride for me to share my story in front of leading education experts committed to bringing true inclusion in the sector of education by maximising the participation of women and differently able individuals. I hope to use my knowledge, skills, experience and connections developed during and after completion of my study to help initiate social change by raising awareness in such communities regarding “importance of girls’ education” in transforming the lives of people.
‘The conference that I attended in Hobart has been an ideal platform for a graduate like me as I had an opportunity to meet and interact with education scientists and industry representatives coming from different parts of the globe. Moreover, I want to recall a valuable session—“Improving student outcomes through diversity of the student experience”—where experts talked about meeting the need and demand of learners coming from diverse backgrounds through innovative ways so as to produce outstanding academic outcomes.
‘We as individuals working in the sector of education can embrace diversity when we become able to educate the youths of today in a truly inclusive teaching-learning environment, so that they can participate and build a heterogeneous community free from any sort of discrimination. Finally, a key message that I brought away with me from the conference is that “it’s okay to be different”.’
Nisha presented in collaboration with a panel consisting of Tony Crooks, Team Leader of Australia Awards South and West Asia, Erin Robbins, Senior Program Manager, Australia Awards and Alumni Branch at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Cucu Saidah, an Australia Awards scholar from Indonesia. The panel was chaired by Kirsty Harris, Director South Asia Branch, DFAT.
The AIEC is held annually and brings together those working in the international education industry. With the theme of ‘Embracing Diversity’, the 2017 conference focused on how to embrace diversity, and the current and future steps needed to make international education a more inclusive and diverse industry.
Attending conferences is a great way to learn from experts based in Australia and guests from across the world. It also presents a fabulous opportunity for networking. We strongly encourage you as awardees, like Nisha, to seek opportunities to attend conferences and summits as a professional development activity.
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