MY recent trip to Vietnam was all about showcasing Western Australia as a world class study and research destination. Vietnam is currently WAâ€™s 9th largest source market, with about 1,600 international students.
I spent the week travelling with Perth Education City (PEC), the not-for-profit industry and government-supported premier body responsible for branding Perth and WA as a worldclass study destination. We visited education institutions throughout Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Hanoi with the aim of attracting secondary and tertiary students to WA schools, Colleges and universities and facilitate discussion on science solutions for our world.
A highlight was working with former National Science Teacher of the Yearâ€™s Warwick Matthews and Curtin Universityâ€™s Nick Dyer in showcasing their super-slick DNA extraction procedure which enables DNA to be extracted within a few minutes and preserved long-term.
Close to 160 high school students from HCMC and Hanoi were able to extract their own DNA from a sample of their cheek cells. The activity was extremely popular with students and educators and we were also able to demonstrate it at two education exhibitions.
The Australian Educational Showcases in HCMC and Hanoi featured a busy mix of parents, students and researchers, exhibits and show bags and presentations on science and education opportunities in Australia. I spoke to students and parents about the fun and joy of science with examples from the animal kingdom. I also demonstrated why science is such an important part of solving the worldâ€™s problems such as the food and energy crisis, sustainable development and health issues. An important point I made was the great opportunity science has as a career both in Australia and the world. The pathways where science can lead are boundless.
Ongoing collaborations between WA and Vietnamese universities are valuable for both countries, especially as we share many similar agricultural challenges including dealing with sandy soils. I presented a talk on biodiversity, aquaculture and forestry at HCMC University of Agriculture and Forestry, highlighting collaborative programs between WA and Vietnam including improvements to the aquaculture industry, forestry health and ways to improve our soil quality.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience and a chance to represent our State overseas with benefits right here.