Student on rescue mission to Samurai village

New Colombo Scholar Courtney Organ is having the experience of a lifetime in Japan.
New Colombo Scholar Courtney Organ is having the experience of a lifetime in Japan.

In a Samurai village in rural Japan, businesses are struggling like never before. Depopulation has taken its toll on this micro economy and concerns are increasing among locals who fear for the region’s future viability.

This is the setting into which New Colombo Plan scholar and Griffith student Courtney Organ is about to throw herself, after one semester at Akita International University in Japan.

“I will be helping the owner develop international awareness to encourage a flow of tourists into the region,” Courtney (24) says.

“The little Samurai village of Gokanosho is experiencing extreme depopulation and its people are worried about the future. The area is rich in history and culture.

“It is a rare little gem that I am passionate about showing to the world.”

Courtney.smallThe third-year business student hopes to put the skills and knowledge she has gained through her marketing major at Griffith to meaningful use during her internship with the small business in the south of the country, starting in mid-August.

Following this, Courtney hopes to secure an internship at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo. “I was lucky enough to meet the Australian ambassador to Japan, Mr Bruce Miller, recently. I think an internship there would further my understanding of the Japan-Australia relationship.”

The Alice Springs native has completed four months in the Land of the Rising Sun since being named among seven Griffith University students to receive a 2015 New Colombo Plan Scholarship.

“The entire experience has been wonderful,” she says.

“I have been able to exploreJapan as a country and culture. I have a much deeper understanding of how this part of the world works, how its people think and how that is either different or similar to my own thoughts and beliefs.”

Courtney has actively explored university life in a rural Japanese setting, from a visually mesmerising library space (below) to the Komachi Lobby to the little three-bedroom apartment she shares with two other student.

Library.small“One of the best decisions I made was to take up a language course,” she says. “I attend an intensive Japanese course every day with many other international students. I can’t begin to explain just how much fun it is to learn an entirely foreign language with my peers from all over the world.

“The fun really begins when we practice our newly learnt vocabularies with Japanese students outside of the classroom.”

Courtney is a member of the Griffith Honours College and the Golden Key International Honours Society. She was among a privileged group of Griffith University students who attended President Barack Obama’s Brisbane address during the G20 Leaders Summit in 2015.

She was among seven Griffith University students to secure New Colombo Plan Scholarships for 2015. The group also includes

  • Braden Rowe, Bachelor of Business (destination China)
  • Phoebe Atkinson, Bachelor of Politics, Asian Studies and International Relations (destination Japan)
  • Michelle Gunawan, Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Government and International Relations (destination China)
  • Jonathon Glindemann, Bachelor of Commerce (destination Hong Kong)
  • Matthew Sharp, Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of Criminology Criminal Justice (destination Hong Kong
  • Sarah Griffin, Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Government and International Relations (destination Hong Kong).

The New Colombo Plan is a signature initiative of the Australian Government that aims to lift knowledge of the Indo—Pacific in Australia and strengthen people-to-people and institutional relationships.

Scholarships are valued at $67,000 each and successful undergraduate students can undertake up to two semesters of study in a choice of more than 20 countries across Asia along with an internship and language study.