Hemraj Shahi isn't afraid to make the most of every opportunity while on his Australia Awards Scholarship.
Australia Awards Scholarships are long-term awards administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). They provide opportunities for people from developing countries, particularly those countries located in the Indo-Pacific region, to undertake full time undergraduate or postgraduate study at participating Australian universities.
A year ago, Hemraj was working as a Forest Officer at the Ministry of Forests and Environment in Nepal.
When the opportunity arose to apply for the Australia Awards Scholarship, Hemraj knew he had to do it.
"After working in the Nepal Government for seven years, I was motivated to apply for the Scholarship to upgrade myself and broaden my international horizons."
A Bachelor of Forestry graduate, Hemraj had his eyes on the Master of Forestry (Advanced) at ANU.
"If I received the Scholarship, I knew I would make the most out of the two years at ANU."
A few months later, Hemraj was over the moon to learn he had received the Scholarship. And so he packed his bags for Canberra.
Since commencing his studies in July 2022, Hemraj has been extremely active and visible within organisations on and off campus.
He is the current President of the International Forestry Student's Association and a member of Forestry Australia.
Soon after arriving at ANU, Hemraj read a flyer for a competitive six-week forestry internship opportunity at the Thamarrurr Development Corporation Rangers in Wadeye, a small town in the Northern Territory.
"I had been looking for an opportunity to explore Australia and develop my personal and professional connections with the Indigenous community," Hemraj said.
After multiple interviews, Hemraj was one of two interns selected.
During the six-week internship, Hemraj worked closely with Indigenous people in the community in bush food and bush product enterprises.
Living in an Indigenous community, he was able to closely engage with Indigenous culture, food, stories and language. Amazingly, Hemraj was surprised to learn that some words in the local Indigenous language, Murrinh-patha, were the same as in his Nepali language!
From boating in the Timor Sea, to eating fresh crab meat, to being gifted a didgeridoo by an Indigenous Elder, Hemraj treasured his time at the Rangers.
"All those moments were incredible and memorable."
One lasting impression that Hemraj will keep is how Australians pay respect to their Indigenous communities.
When he returns home, Hemraj has promised himself to make an active effort to respecting Nepal's Indigenous and ancestral people.
"Everyone has the right to be respected as they live their life."
Looking to the future, Hemraj hopes to resume his role in the Nepal Government with the newfound knowledge and skills that he has developed during his scholarship experience.
"One day I hope to be a part of bilateral talks between Nepal and Australia about the environment and biodiversity."
As Hemraj nears the end of his master's degree, he is grateful for every opportunity that has come his way through the Australia Awards Scholarship.
"ANU is a hub for exciting and rewarding opportunities - I encourage any student to always be curious and take any chance to explore your country."
For more information about the Australia Awards Scholarship, please visit australia-awards-scholarships.