Young ambassador's off to Asia

The idea of being alone in a foreign country doesn't faze a Palmerston North student bound for a four-month trip to Japan.

Massey University third year social anthropology student Isaac Tombleson, 23, was awarded one of the Prime Minister's Scholarships for Asia in Wellington last night.

He was one of 100 Kiwis chosen to be an ambassador at a top Asian institution.

Tombleson's scholarship is for an all expenses paid exchange at Nagoya University in Japan to study language. He will leave for Japan in August.

"They want people with international skills to come back to the New Zealand workforce, and I can do that," Tombleson said.

"I'm looking forward to being on my own in a whole new country, because I've never left New Zealand. "I'll be alone, independent and terrified at the same time and I know it will be hard, but it'll be awesome too."

Tombleson has an apartment sorted, a 9am to 5pm, five day a week class schedule and he wants to volunteer with a community venture in Nagoya City.

"The worst thing would be if I just stuck around with other English speakers, it would be easy to make friends with them, but the cross-cultural aspect and getting outside my comfort zone is the big deal and the exciting bit," he said.

The scholarship programme was started last year to support more Kiwis studying in Asia, increase links and also raise the profile of New Zealand education overseas.

In last year's Budget $9 million was set aside as part of the Government's internationally focused five-year growth package. The first scholarship recipients were named in October, and the second cohort last night.

Massey honours in design student Mariah Templonuevo also received a scholarship and is at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Manawatu Standard