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Manaaki NZ scholars Andrea Camiring, Channarath Sreng, Faatina Lolotai Patu, Feng Ming Chan, John Johnston and Myo Eindray Cho.

When Myo Eindray Cho came to New Zealand she knew she was going to take back new skills to her home country of Myanmar. What she didn't know was that she was going to earn a greater understanding of her own home country as well.

Cho came to Otago to study for a Master of Health Science in Health Management on a Maanaki New Zealand Scholarship and alongside 10 other recipients was celebrated at a completion ceremony last week.

“Your mana binds you to this place, to New Zealand, and you will carry your mana with you wherever your journey will take you.”

“For me this is really a life changing experience. Before I came here, I didn't know about critical thinking because in developing countries the education system is more teacher-centric.”

While Cho had many challenges to overcome while she was at Otago, she credits the scholarships team and her friends with helping her to get through.

“Right now, I've started seeing why my country, Myanmar, has problems and how we can improve it. This degree has taught me how we can make changes and I really feel like this is a huge turning point for my life.”

University of Otago International Director Jason Cushen says the graduands had not only mastered an academic discipline but also complex cultural and linguistic challenges as well – and then there was the matter of the pandemic.

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Kakau Foliaki, Pavill Ruangvichatron, Suneil Jason Nath, Salamasina Talileleia Tofa and Sooleoso Aaitui Palaamo.

“This has been like no other period in living memory. COVID-19 has profoundly changed almost all aspects of civil society. Education, especially international education, has been impacted more than most other sectors.

“Those of you who are here today with us remained engaged with your studies while everything around you turned upside down and did so far away from family and friends. For that, I salute you and acknowledge the additional hurdles you have overcome.”

The objective of the New Zealand Aid Programme, run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), is to support sustainable development in developing countries, to reduce poverty and to contribute to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world.

The Manaaki New Zealand Scholarship aims to build potential leaders by increasing the knowledge and skills of individuals and communities through supporting study at world-class New Zealand universities. It offers full scholarships for undergraduate and postgraduate academic study in New Zealand and in the Pacific.

MFAT Global Development and Scholarships Divisional Manager Joanna Kempkers says the hard work and resilience the graduands have shown this year is a testament to their mana.

“Your mana binds you to this place, to New Zealand, and you will carry your mana with you wherever your journey will take you.”

Completing scholars:

  • Kakau Foliaki: Doctor of Philosophy – Geography - TONGA
  • Andrea Danna Camiring: Master of Science – Plant Biotechnology - PHILIPPINES
  • Myo Eindray Cho: Master of Health Science – Health Management - MYANMAR
  • Channarath Sreng: Master of Public Health - CAMBODIA
  • Sooleoso Aaitui Palaamo: Bachelor of Commerce – Accounting - SAMOA
  • John Johnston: Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences – Functional Human Biology - SAMOA
  • Pavill Ruangvichatron: Master of Arts – Geography - THAILAND
  • Feng Ming Chan: Bachelor of Pharmacy – SAMOA
  • Suneil Jason Nath: Doctor of Clinical Dentistry – Paediatric Dentistry - FIJI
  • Faatina Lolotai Patu: Bachelor of Dental Surgery – SAMOA
  • Salamasina Talileleia Tofa: Master of Social and Community Work (Applied) - SAMOA
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