Elizabeth Dowrie will pursue her passion for women’s rights and social justice in Beijing after winning a New Colombo Plan scholarship.
“When I heard the news, my heart started thumping,” she said.
“I feel very lucky and honoured.”
The Griffith Law and Government/International Relations student will immerse herself in the Chinese culture and language at the China University of Political Science and Law.
“I can’t wait to expose myself to a different culture and learn a new language.
“At the moment my Mandarin is limited to ‘hello’ and ‘how are you’, so I have a long way to go!
“It will be a challenge, but one that will change me for the better.”
Elizabeth visited Beijing as an Asia Futures Fellow last year, attending Peking University and collaborating on a research project comparing gender equality in China and Australia.
“Growing up, I always felt a more natural affinity with Europe,” she said.
“I always had dreams of travelling to Paris and London, but after studying international relations at Griffith and travelling to China last year, I realised how important Asia is to the future of Australia.
“Our alliance with America may not be as solid as it once was, so it’s an incredibly exciting time to visit China and help build those ties.”
Elizabeth, 21, is one of six Griffith students awarded the prestigious New Colombo Plan Scholarships to study at leading universities in China, Hong Kong and Japan.
The scholarships aim to improve relations between Australia and its neighbours in the Indo-Pacific.
Recipients can undertake up to two semesters of study, along with an internship and language study.
Elizabeth hopes to undertake an internship with a women’s legal service or an organisation that empowers female leaders.
“I am passionate about gender equality and the effect that politics and culture have on the position of women in society,” she said.
Elizabeth is also passionate about volunteering, and will be seeking opportunities to give back while she is studying in China.
While at Griffith she went on a short-term cultural exchange to Vietnam, providing school supplies to rural schools and forging relationships between students at Hanoi University and Griffith University.
“I had an incredibly lucky upbringing, with a middle class background and a supportive family,” she said.
“I feel compelled to do something for people who haven’t had those advantages.”
The high-flying Griffith Student Ambassador recently won the Australian Institute for International Affairs Queensland Asia-Pacific Scholarship. She is also a Sir Samuel Griffith Scholarship recipient and a member of the Griffith Honours College.
After graduating next year she hopes to join an international law firm.
“It is such exciting work, and the clients you work with are so big and important,” she said.
“I would like to think that I can bring my passion for gender equality with me, and make sure I’m part of a corporate culture that empowers women and puts them in leadership positions.”