As story tellers it is always a pleasure to do a story on a fellow story teller. Meet Sara who is writing cross cultural stories for release in Thailand and Australia, helping to build ties and bridge gaps. #NewColomboPlan
When New Colombo Plan scholar Sara Khamkoed struggled to find stories that reflected her Thai-Australian children, she decided to do something to support divers...ity in the Australian publishing industry, which serves an increasingly multicultural society.
“When I found out about the New Colombo Plan scholarship, I thought this is the perfect opportunity for me to go to Thailand, learn more about the culture, learn more about the people, connect with the publishing industry, and to have a residency where I'm going to have the time and space to write these stories that we really need in Australia,” she says.
As a Bachelor of Visual Arts and Secondary Education student at Southern Cross University in Lismore, in 2016, Sara moved with her two children and husband to Bangkok and began her studies in comparative literature at Mahidol University.
Inspired by Thai ghost stories and western fairy tales, Sara has started writing her young adult’s novel. The main character is a 16-year-old Thai-Australian girl called Snow, who finds herself lost in the jungle where she conquers her fears and ultimately befriends seven ghosts.
“Ghost stories are very prominent in Thailand,” Sara explains. “There are ghosts that live in banana trees or by the water – there are a lot of different ghost characters that you see being retold in different ways through cinema and through books.”
“I think it’s because the spirit world is something that is present in everyday life in Thailand,” she says. “When you walk down the street, you can see little offerings, and you can see spirit houses where people put out food and drinks and incense.”
For Sara, stories allow the reader to gain an insight into the lives of others and this is immensely powerful for creating cross-cultural understanding and empathy, especially among children. She hopes that her children’s and young adult’s books will one day help create this kind of deeper understanding between Thai and Australian cultures.
“Once I've finished all my scholarship in Thailand and my studies and my artist's residency, I'll be going back to Australia to finish my degree for one year, but, I'm definitely going to be back in Thailand,” she says. “I'm already starting to form as many connections as I can and look at what opportunities are available for my future, because Thailand is definitely somewhere that I want to be returning to and hopefully working in this region, in the future,” she says.
Nominations for the 2018 round of the #NewColomboPlan scholarships program open on 1 July. Talk to your international office and faculty now to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to study and work in 40 locations across the Indo-Pacific, and contribute to bonds of friendship, understanding and opportunity between Australia and our region.
Join Uncle Mark Flanders as he shares his Gumbaynggirr people's culture, who are the traditional owners of the land that Small World Stories now calls home too. #NAIDOC2017
Hunting a story on the streets of Bangkok is for Cat Yen an exciting prospect especially as she is about to use her new found skill in the Thai language to do the interviews. Follow her with us as we go out with her and hear her story. #newcolomboplan
Catherine Yen says her New Colombo Plan scholarship will allow her to access a career that she never thought possible. Coming from a migrant background, where m...oney was often tight, Catherine always dreamed of immersing herself in the Indo-Pacific region, but felt that such an experience was simply unaffordable.
“To do things like build up a language, to conduct field research in a foreign country, you need a lot of funds,” she says.
So, as a Bachelor of Philosophy in Asian Studies student at the Australian National University, when she heard about the New Colombo Plan scholarship she immediately applied. Winning the scholarship, in 2016 she moved to Thailand for one year.
Catherine is currently living in Bangkok, studying at Thammasat University and interning at the national newspaper, Prachatai. Coming to the country that she had only previously read about, Catherine was initially struck by the “chaos” of Bangkok, which she soon “fell in love with”.
“At any time of the day or night there is something to see or do,” she says.
As an intern at Prachatai, Catherine translates stories from Thai to English. After only eight months in the country, recently she also began hitting the streets to conduct interviews in Thai.
“Learning Thai is really important to me because there are certain experiences that can only be shared in your mother tongue,” she says. “I think as a journalist, or as a researcher, if you can't speak the local language that cuts off so much communication.”
Apart from the incredible learning opportunity, her time in Thailand has also allowed Catherine to made life-long friends and “I will now always be between Australia and Thailand”.
She eventually aims to become a researcher, specializing in Thailand. Having had the opportunity to develop her language skills as well as networks in the country will help her do that to a high standard.
“The New Colombo plan has given me access to a career that I think most people from a background like mine can't access,” she says.
India has one of the world’s most vibrant textile industries, employing over 35 million people, many of whom make colourful and intricate cloths and garments mo...stly by hand. When aspiring fashion designer, Paige Philogene, was offered a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant to study for six months in India’s capital, New Delhi, she jumped at the opportunity to experience this unique industry first-hand.
“I would like to focus on a slow fashion model and bring back the importance of locally-made and ethically made,” she says. She hopes to one-day create clothes that people will cherish and, “that aren't going to be thrown out because the trend is over.”
Currently enrolled in a Bachelors of Fashion Design at the QUT (Queensland University of Technology), Paige moved to India in early 2016 to take up a place at the National Institute of Fashion Technology.
“Coming to Delhi was a bit of a shock… it was overwhelming and hard to adapt,” she recalls. “The best thing you can do is just go for it because you're never going to get that experience again of being part of… the college culture and meeting young people your age,” she says.
“We're learning in a different way to what we do at home,” she says. “ A lot of it is skill-based… so a lot of pattern-making from scratch… we're learning skills that are going to carry us through to wherever we go to work.”
For Paige, part of her New Colombo Plan Mobility Grants also involves hands-on opportunities to work in the fashion industry, such as assisting backstage at the country’s premier style event, the Amazon India Fashion Week.
Run by the Fashion Design Council of India, this five-day event features fashions shows, trade fairs and an opportunity to meet and work with leading Indian designers whose creations are revealed and snapped-up by International buyers at this event.
“It’s awesome… You’re part of this big system that’s working together to put on a show,” she says. “Seeing this kind of production on a much bigger scale than I ever have before… I can come away from this having learnt from it.”
Paige says the experience in India has not only shaped the way she now thinks about fashion and her approach to design, but has enabled her to make friends for life. “It's cool to know a group of people here who may spread far and wide into different areas of fashion and I think it would be really awesome to know them in the future and potentially work together.”
Our cameras became part of the show today as we filmed leading contemporary dance artist Lordfai V. Pachimsawat in Bangkok. In Thai her name means "lightbulb", which is apt as after graduating from @thevictoriancollegeofthearts, she has been bringing new ideas that are shaping the small, but growing Thai contemporary dance scene. In her latest show, she uses dance and mirrors to connect with and reflect the audience. In this case it was our awestruck production team! #Australianglobalalumni Australia Awards #bangkokdanceacademy
This year’s theme for International Mountain Day is “Mountain Cultures”. Covering over 1/4 of the earth’s land surface and home to almost 1 billion people, mountains are vital to the earth’s ecosystem. Mountain people are deeply connected with their land having developed phenomenal land-use systems. Traditional lifestyles are celebrated in this photo slideshow of a farming couple from Bhutan.
Sisi is a partially blind teacher and an Australia Awards Alumni who travels the length and breath of her country, #Fiji, to help visually impaired kids excel in mainstream schools. On a journey from the Capital to a remote village last year, Sisi shared her story with us. And, this week, it is being showcased at the United Nations Enable Film Festival in New York! You can enjoy it here.
Face-to-face with a Greater One-Horned Rhino in the South of Nepal. Even our intrepid cameraman who was caught by surprise whilst out filming was relieved when the 2000 kilogram beauty proceeded to trot away...not before checking for any cars of course.
HAPPY MOTHER LANGAUGE DAY everyone. Today is International Mother Language day so we thought we would dig the archives and bring up this old "gold" that we did for the Untted Nations Volunteers way back in 2011. Volunteers, United Nations Online Volunteers #InternationalMotherLangaugeday
One of the big questions to come out of the US Election was: how did the mainstream media miss the story. Perhaps, local voices and stories were superseded by their big city counterparts. We agree with Michael's sentiments captured by a local Australian movement called Save Our Voices about the importance of local media. What is the situation in your community? Prime7 Imparja Television.
All of us at Small World Stories woke to the shocking news of the huge fires ripping through Javea, Spain. Macarena's home has been damaged, though she and her family are all safe we are very happy to report after being evacuated at midnight.
Macarena is one of the co-founders and directors of Small World Stories, she is a pillar in the communications for development world and gender issues worldwide.
Our hearts go out to her and family Sinead, Sean and husband Sean all of wh...om we love dearly.
Let's not forget other friends there Helen and Margot Hope your homes and friends are safe.
Love to you all.
photo copyright and courtasy of Sean Deely
Thursday evening at Sawmill Cinema the Coffs Harbour Greens are holding a film night to raise awareness and funds for the cause. We are honoured to join other illustrious filmmakers in being chosen to have 2 of our shorts, "Leaving your Feathers Behind" and "Winds of Change" shown at the event. We are proud to support this event and look forward to a loverly evening.