The Overseas Study Experience (OSE) allows selected students from Wesley to study, travel and work in Indochina. It also provides the basis for an ongoing academic and cultural exchange scheme, through which Wesley College hosts students and academics from other countries.
Wesley was the first tertiary institution in Australia to offer such an experience to its students. The value of gaining work experience in Asia and of acquiring a deeper appreciation of cultural, political and economic realities in the region is undoubted. It has far reaching consequences both for students and their careers as well for Wesley College as it seeks to provide the best environment for the educational and ethical preparation of future leaders in Australia.
The program provides immediate benefits, by advancing the intellectual depth and professional skills of the students while enriching the academic environment of the College. In the long term, it contributes to the wider community’s knowledge and appreciation of the cultural and commercial dynamics of modern Asia.
Vietnam (2010 population estimate; 90 500 000), Cambodia (14 805 000), and Laos (6 800 000) comprise a region of nearly 113 million people. They are some of Australia’s closest neighbors. The links between countries (particularly Vietnam and Cambodia) are positive and expanding. People from Indochina represent a significant proportion of our recent migrant population, and their role in Australian life is growing. Politically and diplomatically, Vietnam favors interaction and cooperation with Australia. The countries are active trading partners, and Australian companies are establishing an increasing presence in Vietnam and Cambodia. Many opportunities exist to strengthen our ties, for the academic and economic benefit of these nations.
The program format
The OSE is a Wesley College Foundation initiative (since 1993) that awards an annual scholarship to a group of students, enabling them to travel to Indochina and complete voluntary work experience generally related to their degree. The scholarship covers return air-travel, visas, travel insurance, vaccinations, language and cultural lessons, and provides an emergency fund if required. The program has been developed in line with the objectives of The University of Sydney to establish links with tertiary institutions in Asia and the Pacific.
On returning to Australia, the students apply their experience to foster further development of the program. They also assist with the exchange program, acting as host for students and academics from Vietnam who visit the College. Inspired by their OSE, Wesley students have gone on to found organisations such as The Australian Youth Against Land Mines Association (TAYALA) now called STEPSAFE, the Heart Tree Foundation and also Party for Poverty.
In recent years the emphasis of the program and placements as a means of best carrying out the mission and goals of the OSE has shifted to Cambodia, which remains mired in extreme poverty, while Vietnam is experiencing rapid economic development. On previous programs, Wesley students have had work experience placements with organizations like WHO, WWF, The Australian Embassy, Austrade, AUSAID , BHP Petroleum in Hanoi and HCM City, Hanoi 200, Orica, the Vietnamese company Invest consult, AIDAB, UNICEF, UNIDO, APHEDA, Johnson, Stokes & Masters (law firm), KPMG Peat Marwick (accountancy firm), Phillips Fox Solicitors, , the daily newspaper Vietnam News, ABC Hanoi Bureau, Hanoi Research Training and Development Corporation, The Pasteur Institute, Australian Chemical Holdings and Bach Mai Hospital (Ha Noi). As well as these and other placements in Vietnam, possibilities now exist for placements in Laos.
Partnerships and Charities
Wesley OSE supports, has workplace programs and continues to partner with the following organizations in Indo-china:
- SCADP (Street Children Assistance and Development Program )
- Project Indo-china
- Voice (founded by a previous Wesley OSE student)
- Dien Tho Commune and Rehabilitation Centre
Wesley OSE is also informally partnered with and supports various university and social programs in Australia including:
- The University of Sydney – Sydney Southeast Asia Centre
- Can Tho University (Vietnam)
- Agent Orange Justice Organisation
- MiVac (Mines Victims and Clearance)
OSE XXII (2014-2015):
Ellen Laughton (Group Leader)