< Back to previous page

My Australian Life: Sushant Rijal of Nepal

Posted: 5 December 2023

Nepal, Scholars Platform, Experience, Grants, Linkages, Scholar,

Navigating new cultures, teaching styles and living conditions can be a challenge for any new Australia Awards scholar. Taking these challenges and using them to one’s best advantage is an example of leadership in a future changemaker. Australia Awards scholar Sushant Rijal of Nepal, who is completing a Master of Management (Advanced), has pursued several opportunities, including through volunteering, to build his network and experiences. For International Volunteer Day on 5 December, Sushant shares his experiences in his own words:

As an Australia Awards scholar, I have been learning and establishing new connections, including through my recent volunteering experience. The Australian National University (ANU) has a volunteering program called ANU+, which requires postgraduate students to work with internal and external organisations.  One of my achievements has been working with the ANU Kitchen Garden program, including to create a Native Australian Garden in future, which is a significant undertaking. I have also volunteered for the Australian Red Cross and the Food Co-op Shop & Café. I recently received the ANU+ award for my volunteering commitments, which was highlighted on the ANU+ social media site and was also nominated for an ACTVolunteering award.

Sushant pictured at ANU

I currently work for Set4ANU as a peer mentor, helping new students navigate resources around campus. In July, I was honoured to represent my country and Australia Awards students as an MC for new student orientation. I was happy to take that leading role and enjoy helping new students feel welcome on campus.

I have had many professional development opportunities here at ANU, including a chance to participate in the Student Research Conference and present a research idea with two other Australia Awards – South Asia & Mongolia scholars, Sharmin Akther (Bangladesh) and Fariba Aurin (Bangladesh). It was a good experience. I also completed teacher training for tutors and received a certificate for my efforts.

While volunteering, I have also been working in other roles. I am currently undertaking a few tutorial roles and a Research Assistant role. One of the tutoring roles is for the National Indigenous Australians Agency Graduate Program. I feel so happy, proud and privileged to have a chance to work with First Nations people. In the Research Assistant position, I am upskilling by working alongside the course professor. I also participated in a College of Business and Economics virtual internship (see this recently published interview) and a second virtual internship called Analytics+. This year I have returned to this program as a mentor.

My ability to take on these volunteer and paid roles would not have been possible without the support provided by my Australia Awards Scholarship. As an Australia Awards scholar, I receive a Contribution to Living Entitlement payment, whereas other international students often need to work to pay for their living expenses. While my classmates were doing things to earn money, I had the privilege of experimenting with new things and gaining experience that will later translate to career development or network building. The Scholarship allows me to be picky in choosing what experiences I want to pursue without having to worry about financial pressures. Australia Awards also has pool of talented scholars and alumni who are active in different university areas. I have been able to use this network to further extend my linkages and access.

Finding a balance between my study load and a fun Aussie lifestyle is tricky but not impossible. I enjoy speaking with my university mentors and gaining insights into my profession from others on campus. Exploring Canberra during my free time and cooking with friends has been enjoyable.

I already have plans I want to implement on returning to Nepal. Firstly, I plan to take some practices I learnt or experienced in Australia, including the courses Evidence-Based Management and Effective Altruism. These courses could benefit Nepalis and be directly implemented in Nepal. Secondly, I want to implement and promote the practice of reflective essays or reflective writing in Nepal. While this is already known in Nepal, the Australian way of writing is more structured and helps in reflecting true learning. So, I’ll try to embed it in the courses I teach in Nepal. Lastly, I want to take the practices of ANU+ and several other courses and implement them, with some modifications. We had a program similar to ANU+ called community services, but I’d introduce the reflection process so that the volunteering experience could help students reflect on their own career.

Sushant (third from right) with scholars from Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka at ANU