Damian Meduri - 2016 Westpac Asian Exchange Scholar
“Oh! You’re a Westpac Scholar? I’ve heard of that! How did you get it?” I’ve had this question asked to me a few times over the last few years and it makes me think to how my understanding of the Scholarship is constantly changing. After all, what IS the Westpac Scholarship? How has it contributed to my desires to be an Asia-literate leader?
Firstly, the financial assistance was a big help in giving me the opportunity to better immerse myself in Chinese language and culture during my year in Shanghai. But looking back now, the Scholarship has proven to be much more valuable than just the dollar figure attached to it. Having the backing of the Westpac community has been a tremendous benefit. Towards the end of my exchange I got an email back from the Australian Institute of International Affairs NSW for an interview and secured the role upon my return.
The combination of the Asian exchange experience and interning at AIIA NSW led me to experience a massive growth in my understandings of International Affairs. I am now a graduate in the NSW State Government where I am fortunate enough to get a taste of how the public-sector approaches topics such as foreign trade and investment which I am deeply interested in. This has fueled my desire to be an Asia-literate leader.
In the last six months, I have noticed that all my networks are connected in many ways, highlighting that there is a solid and capable group of up and coming professionals who are just as dedicated to bridging the gap between Australia and our Asian neighbours as I am. Through these communities, and with the ever-generous support of the Westpac Scholars team (who always go above and beyond for us!), I will always feel I have the backing to pursue my goals, particularly that of forging better understandings between Australia and China. Knowing this, led me to realise that there is a powerful but subtle value of the Scholarship that not everyone fully grasps yet.
The Australia-China relationship is multi-faceted, but getting it wrong can have serious negative impacts for everyone. We can only get it right if we have informed understandings and a vital part of this is having a strong voice to call for informed decisions. With fellow Westpac Asian Exchange Scholars past and present, we have a collective voice, educated sounding board and we will always be able to rely on each other as our careers progress and opening up the pathway to deeper relationships between Australia and the rest of the world. In other words, the Scholarship network has us poised to make a significant impact in the years to come and that genuinely excites me.
To find out more, visit Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarships.
Published 18 November 2018