Eventful Hong Kong perfect learning space

Hong Kong knows how to pack its social calendar with the right mix of events for the seven million residents it squeezes into little more than a square kilometre.

For Sunnybank student Elise Giles, Asia’s ‘World City’ will be home for the next seven months where she aims to learn how the world’s most densely populated city manages to put on a show night after night.

A business student at Griffith University, Elise is keen to forge a career in event management. Her departure on December 30 is a major boost to her ambitions.

She has just picked up a 2012 Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Award, one of 20 undergraduate students nationwide to win the prestigious prize. With the award come a $53,000 and the opportunity to extend and enhance her education in Hong Kong.

“The traditional Australian dream of owning a block of land is fast disappearing with more and more people moving to the main cities and living in high rise urban blocks,” Elise says.

“It’s important as this trend grows to provide events and entertainment that match this emerging lifestyle choice. This is about the creation and effective use of space — particularly green space — in highly populated urban areas.”

She highlights Brisbane’s South Bank precinct as a prime example of a green space with an exciting potential to host major events.

“Hong Kong offers me a fantastic opportunity to learn how this is done this at close quarters,” Elise (19) says.

“While I am in Hong Kong, it will be about understanding the community in the first place and then understanding how different community works.”

Elise will start the first semester of the year at Hong Kong Polytechnic in January. She also aims to complete internships with major event management companies in Hong Kong during her time away.

“It is an incredible opportunity,” she says.

Life as a student at Griffith got off to the perfect start for Elise when she was awarded a Sir Samuel Griffith Scholarship worth $20,000 ahead of her first semester in January 2011.

Now she is among four undergraduate Griffith University students to gain a 2012 Prime Minister’s Endeavour Award, elite scholarships for top university students to spend six to 12 months in Asia as part of their degree, followed by an internship or work placement in Asia.

Densely populated Hong Kong is a world away from the open space of rural Queensland’s Monto where Elise grew up with triplet siblings, Emily and Kerrod. With all three finishing high school at the same time and heading to Brisbane to continue their education, their parents decided on a family move southeast to provide support for the three students.

“Moving from Monto to study at Griffith was a big change. I can only imagine the move to Hong Kong will be an even bigger change.”