OCEAN Reef resident Shannyn Casey was among Murdoch University students who arrived in Bali for an international cultural exchange program on the day of the Mount Agung volcano eruption.
The four students were awarded New Colombo Plan grants to undertake a sustainable community development practicum in Les Village, however they also found themselves helping some of the 100,000 people told to evacuate surrounding villages.
The Federal Government-funded program ran for four weeks with students monitoring coral reef rehabilitation, planning a village-based plastic recycling program by creating jewellery, establishing a worm farm, preparing environmental education tools and teaching English, computer skills and swimming to local children.
Ms Casey, who is studying conservation and wildlife biology, said it was an eye-opening experience.
“Being exposed to communities where people are far less better off makes you ask yourself what you can do to help,” she said.
“It gives you an understanding of other cultures and opens your mind to new ways of collaborating with others to help solve the world’s problems.”
The students were placed with non-government organisations working on a variety of projects in northern Bali including eco-tourism, aquaculture research and development, organic agriculture and youth engagement activities.
Associate Professor Carol Warren from Murdoch University’s Asian studies program said the exchange gave high-achieving students the opportunity to gain “real world experience in the areas they are passionate about”.
“It helps broaden their perspective and equips them with the knowledge, skills and life experience that will enable them to build satisfying and world changing careers,” she said.
“Students chosen for next year’s program will have the opportunity to build on the previous projects and start up new ones.
“We are looking for students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds who are keen to take their academic skills and personal experience into new cultural contexts.”