Josh Pearson is a born and bred Armidale boy. At 21, he is in his third year of study at the University of Canberra – and now FOCUS and our community have the opportunity to kick start what could well be the beginnings of a high flying international career. With his sights set on a career in international relations, Josh’s career goals were not always so clear. Having always enjoyed playing sport, especially tennis and rugby, he was first focused on a career in the sports industry.
Tell us about your academic studies? After completing the HSC at TAS, I went to work as a GAP Tutor in England, in the Midlands, at a primary boarding school. Currently I am studying Politics, International Relations and Business at the University of Canberra.
I recently completed a semester-long exchange at George Mason University, just outside Washington DC.
How did that go? It was genuinely eye opening. I got to experience a new culture and meet a lot of new and interesting people, all while progressing my studies.
What is the project you are talking to us about today? In early January, I received an invitation to attend an International Relations and Diplomacy Delegation to China. Only a very small group of students around the world are invited, based on their academic performance and recommendation.
How did that make you feel? To tell the truth, I wasn’t a high achiever at school, but I have worked very hard at university and am humbled to have this opportunity to represent my country and my hometown.
How many people were invited to participate? Thirty – fifty students are selected, including five Australians. It is a real privilege to be selected as one of a few Australian students from 40 Australian universities.
What exactly does an International Relations and Diplomacy delegate do? That is a good question. At the beginning of the program we will be allocated to teams, given case study topics and tasked with designing a presentation to be given to students and staff at the conclusion of the program. It’s a competitive process, so throughout the program, we take notes and keep a running journal.
Who will you meet with? We’ll do site visits to embassies in China and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and speak to Chinese and international diplomats. We’ll visit a bunch of different institutes and universities, and get to immerse ourselves in the culture to better understand differing perspectives.
Why is understanding Chinese relations important? Approximately half of all Aussie exports go to China. Our relationship with China therefore needs to be strong – not just from an economic standpoint, but a social one. Australia is still quite new to the scene and has a lot of ground to gain.
How will you benefit personally? I would like to pursue a diplomatic career or one in foreign affairs. I am taking every opportunity to experience other cultures, educate myself in international relations and gain a worldlier perspective.
This trip will help me understand a very important partner for Australia in the future.
What about cultural experiences? We will hike along the Great Wall, visit monuments and treasures of the Imperial era and visit the Terracotta Warriors in Xian. We’ll have dinner in a local Beijing Noodle House and try traditional foods like Peking Duck.
When is the conference, and how long does it last? It starts at the end of May and is for 12 days.
Tell me about the fundraising campaign you are running? The delegation isn’t free, but is an opportunity I just do not want to miss out on. We’re encouraged to raise awareness of the opportunity amongst our communities and country and to seek support for our participation. I have started a GoFundMe Campaign and, so far, raised 50% of my $5,500 goal. Funds raised will fund the majority of the program costs and travel.
The campaign has reached over 1,000 people, and I have been generously supported by local friends and family, as well as receiving anonymous donations. While some have donated in the hundreds, the typical donation has been a lot smaller, with people giving $10 and $20. Every little bit counts, and I have been blown away by everyone’s generosity.
How do we follow you on your journey? I have a Facebook page www.facebook.com/sendjoshtochina/ where I am posting about my experiences before, during and after my trip. Not everyone can donate of course, but liking my page and sharing my posts will help me get the word out and reach my goal. You can also visit www.gofundme.com/help-josh-represent-aus-in-china.
Where to from here? The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade run cadetships for high achievers. To give myself the best chance of selection, I am aiming to finish in the top 5% of my cohort in key units.
What would be your dream posting? There are lots of roles in Australia, but if posted overseas I would love to be based in Washington DC or Switzerland.
Any final words? I am thankful to have received the backing I have had already, which will allow me to take advantage of this opportunity. I guarantee I will make the most of it, and I won’t let my sponsors down!