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Newcastle’s next wave of leaders were inspired to be more globally aware and socially conscious when they met co-founder of Alibaba Group and entrepreneur, Jack Ma, in China this week as part of a life-changing scholarship opportunity.

Video: Jack Ma meets Ma & Morley 2019

University of Newcastle students Jasmine Stuart and Daniel Turner are just two of the 29 scholars who have embarked on a 10-day immersion trip to China.

For the second year running, students were able to meet Mr Ma and visit the Alibaba headquarters, thanks to the University’s Ma & Morley Scholarship Program.

The program aims to inspire, educate and cultivate the next generation of globally aware and socially conscious Australian leaders. It is made possible by a generous US$20 million philanthropic commitment by the Jack Ma Foundation. The program was established to honour the life-changing and enduring friendship between Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma and respected Novocastrian Ken Morley.

Unique to the Australian higher education sector, the program not only provides financial support to some scholars throughout their degree, but also provides them with opportunities to develop life-long friendships and empower scholars with the skills and global connections to uphold the program values.

These values include peace and demilitarisation and cultural respect; justice and equity among all people; ethics in entrepreneurship; and environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation.

First-year Bachelor of Renewable Energy Engineering student Jasmine Stuart said she applied for the scholarship because her values lined up with those of Jack Ma’s.

“It’s great being able to meet other people who share the same passions as me,” Ms Stuart said.

The focus of the trip is to highlight Mr Ma’s journey; how his friendship with the late Mr Morley was formed and how their values changed through their friendship, she said.

Going to the Alibaba headquarters and getting to meet Mr Ma is such an invaluable experience. The company is doing some amazing things and being able to walk through and see Alibaba first-hand is huge.”

Photos: Conor Ashleigh / The University of Newcastle

As part of the trip, the University of Newcastle also hosted an informal alumni dinner in Shanghai and a further alumni reception is planned in Beijing on 5 July.

Visits to famous sites such as Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden Palace are still ahead on the itinerary, while the scholars will also stop off at DiDi’s headquarters in Beijing.

For first-time overseas traveller Daniel Turner, being able to see China’s economy function in real time will be an eye-opener.

Mr Turner is a first-year combined Bachelor of Arts and Law student and is passionate about social justice and disability issues.

“It’s interesting to see how China’s economy works and see how much my perspective has been formed because of everything I’ve seen and heard in the media,” he said.

“I applied for the scholarship because my values aligned with the Jack Ma Foundation and I’m passionate about workers’ rights.

“I’ve had my own issues in my own life and I’m a big believer in advocating for others.

If you have a voice, you have to stand up for others that don’t.”

Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President Global Engagement and Partnerships Kevin Hall said the Ma and Morley Scholarship aligned closely with the University’s values.

“Our scholars are being exposed to inspiring leaders who are providing solutions to local and global problems, giving thought to culture, equity and ethics,” he said.

“We hope they all come back with skills and global connections and uphold these values for years to come.”

The 2020 scholarship applications for the Ma and Morley Scholarship Program will open in August 2019.

Ma and Morley Scholarship Learn more about the Ma and Morley Scholarship Program