For Griffith students studying abroad, the destination isn’t a place, but a new way of seeing things.

One of the university’s most successful short-term mobility programs is the bi-annual photography in-field trip to Cambodia, where students spend time on assignment with local NGOs to capture the country’s untold stories.

Queensland College of Art Photography Program Director Dr Heather Faulkner has been recognised with a Griffith Internationalisation Award for her leadership of the program over the past eight years.

The awards reward academic leadership that supports the university’s international engagement, from faculty-led study tours to global partnerships and experiences for international students at Griffith.

Dr Faulkner said she was honoured to be recognised.

Dr Heather Faulkner

“It is fantastic to be part of an institution like Griffith that has a strong international outlook and a focus on global social justice issues,” she said.

The in-field trip includes students from the Bachelor of Photography, Bachelor of Film and Screen Media Production and Bachelor of Journalism. Dr Faulkner said that the experience had been life-changing for everyone involved.

“We’ve been running the program since 2010 and it has changed each and every student who has been a part of it,” she said.

“It is great watching their confidence as practitioners grow day by day while they are out in the field.

“Some of them start completely over their heads, and finish the trip with incredible confidence.

Dr Faulkner with Cambodian musicians in Siem Reap

“They come back with on a whole new level in terms of their technique, research, interpersonal skills and collaboration – everything that’s important as a professional storyteller.

“I learn a lot from the students on these trips – seeing the world through their eyes and making discoveries together is incredibly rewarding.”

Dr Faulkner said the in-field experiences had opened up the region for students, many of whom have secured employment as professional photographers across the Asia-Pacific.

“I think this wakes them up to the possibilities out there and gives them the confidence to move outside their comfort zone here in Australia,” she said.

“A lot of the students who come on these trips are the first in their family to go to university and haven’t travelled before.

“Now we have graduates who are stringers for the New York Times in Hong Kong and the European Press Photo Agency in Thailand, staff photographers at the Phnom Penh Post and working with NGOs in Cambodia.”

Student photography from the Cambodia In-Field trip is available to view on Instagram.