Australia Awards Scholar Hemraj Shahi undertakes a transformational internship in Wadeye, Northern Territory

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Hemraj Shahi takes advantage of every opportunity while on the Australia Awards Scholarship. Since starting his studies for a Master of Forestry (Advanced) at the Australian National University (ANU) in July 2022, Hemraj has been active within the campus and off-campus organisations; he is the President of the International Forestry Student’s Association at ANU and a member of Forestry Australia. 

Hemraj’s determination to make the most of the Australian experience led him to apply for a competitive 6-week Forestry internship. After multiple interviews, he was one of two interns selected to work at the Thamarrurr Development Corporation Rangers in Wadeye, NT—a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Through this experience, Hemraj has two different views of Australia, from living the city life in the Australian capital, Canberra, to experiencing the vast land and culture of living in a remote town of approximately 2000 people in the Northern Territory. Upon arriving at Wadeye, the scenery reminded him of Nepal!

During the six-week internship, Hemraj worked closely with Indigenous people in the community in bush food and bush product enterprises. Living in an indigenous community, he was able to engage with the culture, the food, the stories and the language! Hemraj was surprised to learn that some words in the communities Indigenous language, Murrinh-patha were the same as in his Nepali language. 

The internship in Wadeye brought a new perspective for Hemraj; living in an indigenous community, he learnt practical skills for his field and the importance of traditions and culture. 

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A vital aspect he learnt from Indigenous culture is that; everything has significant meaning; the animals, the sun, the water, the land and the sea all connect to their identity and spirituality, accompanied by stories from generations. Therefore, the Indigenous people’s approach to taking care of the land is so beautiful and sentimental. 

Through this transformational experience, Hemraj looks forward to engaging with the Indigenous population in Nepal and learning from the communities.