Society’s First Youth Intern has Successful China Trip

Breakfast at Peking University, 2013

Breakfast at Peking University, 2013

Our first NZCFS Youth Intern to China, Charles Rowe, has returned with nothing but praise for the Society’s help in paving the way in the form of introductions and access to people and organisations of potential benefit.

The internship led to his successful application to complete a Master’s degree at Peking University and at the same time an offer of Liaison Officer for Charles to tutor at Peking University on New Zealand-related subjects, in particular Rewi Alley and his work in China.

Charles is very happy with the outcome of the internship and stresses that these contacts and those of other prospective interns would be much harder to negotiate without the Society’s help.  Charles, now a member of NZCFS Youth Committee, encourages the Society to develop the internship initiative even further so that more young New Zealanders would benefit from this and help advance NZ’s relationship with China. Charles takes up his degree course on 28th August and he expects his article will be published later this year in the NZ Journal of Asian Studies.

Below is Charles Rowe’s article recounting his experiences.

Teri France, Aug 2013

NZCFS Youth Internship Article, Charles Rowe – 12/08/2013

I wish to thank the NZCFS for providing me with the special opportunity to travel in China and New Zealand as part of the society’s Youth Internship initiative.  I have spent the last five months researching Chinese investment in New Zealand, specifically in dairy farming and Maori business initiatives.  The internship enabled me to visit Beijing and Shanghai, where I engaged with business leaders, diplomats, bankers, journalists, and researchers – all providing me with valuable insights for a report which I hope to have published before the end of the year.  The report examines the ways in which Chinese investment in Maori business initiatives is likely to positively influence New Zealanders’ perceptions of both Chinese investment and Maori management of resources.

Charles Rowe at snowy Tsinghua University, 2013

Charles Rowe at snowy Tsinghua University, 2013

Besides the research component of the internship, the trip itself provided many special memories.  Highlights included:

a tree-planting trip organized by research students from Peking University;
visiting the New Zealand Centre in Beijing;
liaising with the Chinese Peoples’ Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC);
and making lots of new friends along the way.

This internship has influenced my career direction significantly and for this I am very grateful to the NZCFS. I had attended an academic exchange to Tsinghua University in 2012, which was excellent, but after graduating with qualifications in Food Science and Asian Studies from Otago later that year I could not see any practical means of returning to China – at least in a role that would allow me to develop in my areas of interest. I’m pleased to report that the NZCFS internship bridged that gap, and helped me to broaden my links to China. This was important for me on a personal and professional level, as the internship has led to my successful application to study the Master of International Relations degree at Peking University, with the assistance of a China Government Scholarship. I will write about concepts of Food Security in a changing Asia Pacific with China at its centre, and how this is likely to influence foreign policy developments in several countries including New Zealand.

In spite of China recently overtaking Australia as New Zealand’s largest trading partner, opportunities for New Zealand youth to properly engage with China are fairly limited. Opportunities which do exist are hotly contested, and this is promising as it shows how eager New Zealand youth are to get involved with China. It is critical that youth engage with China in their areas of interest and expertise: friendships, partnerships, and valuable networks inevitably follow. NZCFS, with its long and special history of engagement with China, is in a strong position to leverage new and exciting opportunities for New Zealand youth to engage with China across a broad spectrum of activities. I strongly encourage the NZCFS to develop the internship initiative further, so that more New Zealanders can benefit from broader engagement with China, benefitting their early career development, and in turn, advancing our country’s relationship with China.

Charles John Rowe, August 2013 charlesjohnrowe@otagoalumni.ac.nz

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