Four local Indigenous students are on their way to Malaysia on a unique month-long cultural exchange program to share their Australian experiences and learn about the country's Indigenous Orang Asli people.
Catherine Phoenix (Aboriginal studies), Pamalyn Hyde (arts), Nathan West (construction management) and Jessica Melehan (teaching/arts) have won scholarships to attend the Universti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Global Student Mobility Partnerships program.
Catherine Phoenix said the program offered a rare opportunity for her and fellow students to learn the history, customs and challenges facing the Indigenous people of another country.
"This is an opportunity to meet members of another Indigenous culture and gain insight into the process of cultural transformation in Malaysia.
"I will be able to apply a new understanding of the similarities and differences between our two cultures to my academic studies and share my insights with Indigenous communities in Australia."
The exchange program provides 10 credit points towards the students' degree programs at Newcastle. It consists of lectures, discussions and presentations on the UKM campus and fieldwork in Tasik Chini or Cameron Highland, Langkawi GeoPark, Sarawak Cultural Village, and Mount Kinabalu in Sabah.
The University of Newcastle is supporting the students' scholarships from UKM by providing additional funds to cover airfares and travel expenses.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Global Relations), Professor Kevin McConkey, said the program with the UKM would provide the students with an invaluable international experience.
"The University of Newcastle is at the forefront of Indigenous education and we actively support the aspirations of Indigenous people through study opportunities."