Young Indian filmmakers experience inspirational Australian study adventure
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Young Indian filmmakers experience inspirational Australian study adventure

Two adventurous Indian secondary school student filmmakers have had an inspirational study visit to the University of Queensland, Australia, thanks to an online video competition organised by The Australian Trade and Investment Commission.

The “Film Fly Experience Australia” schools video competition challenged Indian students from ninth to eleventh grades to submit a video offering creative solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems, from cybersecurity to sustainable agriculture, rewarding their efforts with a study tour of a leading Australian tertiary institution.

This year’s winners, Ms Abinaya Kanaharatnam and Ms Harini Raveendran, two secondary students from Alpha Wisdom Vidyashram Senior Secondary School in Tiruchirappalli, won the competition with their video showcasing food security in a world of diminishing resources. They travelled 9,582km to experience university life at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, opening their eyes to the value of international study, whilst forging new friendships, trying Vegemite for the first time and even meeting a koala.

Their winning video, which you can watch here, features the young students investigating ‘zero-budget agriculture’, companion planting, evaporation prevention, sheet mulching techniques and other sustainable practices implemented on sustainable Indian farms.

 

 

Abinaya and Harini were accompanied by their teacher, Mrs Noel Sophia Benedict, who was delighted to be helping her students tackle such a critical issue.

“India has a long history of agriculture. Over centuries, farmers in this country devised practices to keep our farms sustainable so as to protect and preserve the natural resources,” she said.

“But now, because of extreme conditions in a changing climate, food production is under pressure. According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, it is estimated that over 190 million people go hungry every day in India. The only solution is the adoption of sustainable farming practices, increasing productivity and reducing ecological harm.”

In their quest to discover sustainable solutions for India and the rest of the world, the students had access to some of Australia’s best academics and resources at the University of Queensland. Abinaya, Harini and their teacher were treated to a variety of tours, lectures and demonstrations at UQ, and also visited UQ’s Gatton campus, where they had the opportunity to see sustainable agriculture in action.

 

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(L-R) Noel Sophia, Abinaya and Harini attend a UQ biology lecture

 

Alison Jenkins, UQ’s Director International Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions, is excited to be forming new connections between the two countries.

“Indian students have so much to gain from Australian institutions like UQ, with incredible courses in agricultural and food sciences, mathematics and physics, law, medicine and so many other fields, perfectly suited for Indian students,” she said.

Mrs Benedict couldn’t agree more.

“UQ is one of the best universities for higher education and is one of the safest places for any student from any part of the world. I was so impressed by the teachers, who were pleasant, kind and always ready to help students. When I walked into the campus I could feel the positive energy. The facilities available on campus were amazing, and really help students to be comfortable and pursue advanced research,” she said.

The trip was also a great opportunity for cultural exchange. Of all her experiences, Abinaya was most in awe of opportunities in Australia for girls to pursue tertiary studies in a safe environment.

“UQ is the best place for girls to do their higher studies, because it’s totally safe for girls to be free and study, which we don’t have in India. The university is very friendly and makes new people feel like they’re home.” she said.

This supportive atmosphere for female students, as well as the role women play in Australia more widely, was also eye-opening for Abinaya’s teacher, Noel Sophia.

Alison Jenkins, UQ’s Director International Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions, is excited to be forming new connections between the two countries.

“Indian students have so much to gain from Australian institutions like UQ, with incredible courses in agricultural and food sciences, mathematics and physics, law, medicine and so many other fields, perfectly suited for Indian students,” she said.

Mrs Benedict couldn’t agree more.

“UQ is one of the best universities for higher education and is one of the safest places for any student from any part of the world. I was so impressed by the teachers, who were pleasant, kind and always ready to help students. When I walked into the campus I could feel the positive energy. The facilities available on campus were amazing, and really help students to be comfortable and pursue advanced research,” she said.

The trip was also a great opportunity for cultural exchange. Of all her experiences, Abinaya was most in awe of opportunities in Australia for girls to pursue tertiary studies in a safe environment.

“UQ is the best place for girls to do their higher studies, because it’s totally safe for girls to be free and study, which we don’t have in India. The university is very friendly and makes new people feel like they’re home.” she said.

This supportive atmosphere for female students, as well as the role women play in Australia more widely, was also eye-opening for Abinaya’s teacher, Noel Sophia.

 

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UQ students showing Indian visitors turtles at the St Lucia campus in Brisbane.

 

“During my time in Australia, I saw empowered women. These women were independent and had equal opportunities. In India we are working hard to bring women’s empowerment. It’s quite a challenging task for us to change the mindset of the whole community. But we’ll keep trying, and we’ll achieve it,” she said.

Now the students, and their teacher, are all considering returning to study at the university, joining the approximately 500 Indian students who already enjoy learning at one of Australia’s (and the world’s) leading institutions. They’re looking forward to learning more about Australia, the world and how they can use their new knowledge to create a better India.

“I would love to visit UQ in the future and bring my siblings here, so they can learn more about Australia, Brisbane and the University of Queensland,” Ms Kanaharatnam said.

For more information about University of Queensland programs and courses, visit the UQ Future Students page.

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