Australian students visit Sogeri, Kokoda Track under programme

Youth & Careers

THE Kokoda Track and Sogeri communities hosted a student group from Western Sydney University who were in Papua New Guinea on a two-week field study last month.
The field study was supported by the Australian government’s New Colombo Plan programme.
The programme gave students firsthand experience of the two countries’ shared war legacy, the local environment, its people and culture.
Western Sydney University group leader Jen Dollin said the purpose of the trip was to learn more about PNG – Australia’s closest neighbour.
“These opportunities for our students are often life-changing and the learning is invaluable,” she said.
The group’s study programme began with a session at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby where they were welcomed to the country by Australian Deputy High Commissioner to PNG Caitlin Wilson.
The session offered the group the opportunity to learn more about the partnership between the two countries. Wilson encouraged the group to immerse themselves in the experience and create strong links with PNG.
“Your participation is further contributing to Australia’s longstanding ties with PNG and building upon our shared history,” she said. The group explored the cultural exhibition and war history collection at the National Museum and Art Gallery and visited the Bomana War Cemetery before heading to Sogeri.
The Bomana visit was emotional for the students – as they paid tribute to six soldiers who were from their university.
The group spent the next 12 days with the local communities.
They worked on projects and research activities with the Sogeri education centre, the women’s coop and health centre and Iarowari High School.
The group was thrilled with the experience.
They said they had learnt a lot and had much to share.
Towards the latter part of their stay, the group trekked to Imita Ridge at the start of the Kokoda Track and camped there for a night before returning to Owers’ Corner to continue their research projects.
Even though hiking to the significant defensive position held by the Australian forces during WWII at Imita Ridge was a physical and emotional challenge, the group found it worthwhile.
The New Colombo Plan is a cultural exchange initiative of the Australian government that encourages Australian students to broaden their understanding of the Indo-Pacific region through sharing of knowledge, culture and experiences.
Since 2015, 101 Australian students (86 mobility, 11 interns and four scholars) have undertaken study placements in PNG.

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