UQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students embrace Chinese culture

25 September 2019

The UQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (ATSIS) Unit in partnership with the Confucius Institute at The University of Queensland (UQ CI) supported a month long experience to China this year for three engineering students.

The students, Mr Ashley Hughes, Mr Riley Norris and Ms Greta Stephensen were immersed in cultural and academic activities in the four-week program based at Tianjin University (TJU), one of the top 10 universities in China.

Mr Ashley Hughes said “local tutors and volunteer students accompanied the group at night and spoke very good English. This encourages you to put more effort into your Chinese as they have put effort into our language.”

Visiting the Terracotta Warriors was a highlight of the trip for Mr Riley Norris. “Overall, the trip exceeded all my expectations and I would highly recommend that any future students considering to go on the trip, take the chance and experience the trip of a lifetime,” he said. 

Ms Greta Stephensen enjoyed the Chinese classes. “They were incredibly engaging and helped so much when we were travelling, especially when ordering food. She said that she enjoyed learning Chinese so much that it is definitely something I’d like to continue at some stage.”

The 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.

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor for (Indigenous Engagement), Professor Bronwyn Fredericks said the feedback from the students proves this sponsored research and study experience works well, especially with the support from UQ ATSIS Unit and UQ CI.

“It’s great that all three cultures can be shared together in this way and used as a point of connection on an academic level so the students can benefit from deeper learning and research experiences, develop a global view in their areas of interest, along with Indigenous students growing a deeper understanding of Chinese language and culture from the visit in its totality” said Professor Fredericks. 

The Executive Dean, UQ Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS), Professor Heather Zwicker said “there is so much energy across UQ, including at the UQ Confucius Institute and the HASS Faculty, to carry forward the important work of acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

“Bringing together the important partner of China with the important mission that we have to build better relations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is especially exciting,” Professor Zwicker added.

The next UQ Research, Study and Experience Tour to China will occur in 2020. For more information about the tour please visit the UQ CI website at www.confucius-institute.centre.uq.edu.au

(L-R) Riley Norris, Ashley Hughes and Ms Greta Stephensen in China.