A life-changing trip to Buenos Aires was the first step towards Ingrid Villalba Weiler’s goal of completing a masters degree and making her home country of Paraguay a better place for all.
Ingrid had been asked to fly to the Australian embassy in Argentina to be interviewed for the Australia Awards, Australia’s postgraduate scholarship program for students from developing countries.
“A month after the interview I received an email saying I had been granted the scholarship,” Ingrid recalls. “I was so happy, as I had spent a number of years researching and applying for scholarships to study a development masters overseas.”
When Ingrid first discovered the Australia Award scholarship, she found it was the perfect fit for her goals.
“The scholarship was perfectly tailored to me,” she says. “Studies needed to be focused on development priories in developing countries like mine, and the scholarship covered both tuition and living expenses.”
Researching Australian universities as part of her scholarship application, Ingrid was pleased to discover a number of development degree programs at universities that were highly-ranked internationally.
“In the end, Macquarie’s Master of Development Studies and Culture Change degree offered exactly what I was looking for,” she says. “A focus on development, with the opportunity to add other subjects I was interested in such as anthropology, economics, and public policy.”
A year later, Ingrid has now completed her Macquarie program and is enthusiastic about applying her learning to development projects in her home country.
“There is a lot of work to do in Paraguay to overcome poverty,” she says. “Thanks to the education I have received at Macquarie, I feel I can do my bit to make life better for all Paraguayans.
Ingrid notes that she owes as much of her Macquarie education to her classmates as her teachers.
“At Macquarie, learning is about conversation and sharing of perspectives instead of a one-way communication from the lecturer towards the students,” she says. “I have been learning from people that actually work in the field, and can share their critical views on actual work being done in communities.”
As she returns home, Ingrid says studying in Australia has left her with a new perspective on development, and life in general.
“One of the biggest impacts Australia has had on me is the multiculturalism that I have found in this country,” she says. “It allows you to open your mind and brings a richness to the experience of living. By studying here you can find, enjoy and learn from different customs and different ways of doing things.”
The Master of Development Studies and Culture Change offers critical perspectives on development and cultural change in a globalising world. Students can tailor their study to include environment, health, international relations, law, communications and Indigenous rights, according to their interests and professional goals.
Applications for the AusAid Australia Awards will open in early 2014, for study in 2015.