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Languages Champions


Sophie Palavestra – Short Biography

Sophie is currently studying for her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Asian Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra www.anu.edu.au. She also works as a Workplace Inspector with the Commonwealth Workplace Ombudsman.

Sophie has had a keen interest in the Asia-Pacific Region since kindergarten, where she studied Japanese at an Access Asia Primary School. Sophie continued to study Japanese throughout High School and majored in Japanese at Narrabundah College www.narrabundahc.act.edu.au. Once at university, Sophie continued studying Japanese language as part of her Bachelor of Asian Studies. Later she transferred to studying Indonesian language as part of the same degree.

Sophie is a high achiever, having gained her Queens Scout Award in 2003. She was a finalist for Young Australian of the Year, Australian Capital Territory in 2005 www.australianoftheyear.gov.au. Sophie was also nominated for Young Canberran of the Year and Young Volunteer of the Year. She travelled to Honiara in the Solomon Islands in 2004 as the team leader of a project that successfully performed urgent repairs to the Red Cross Development School www.redcross.org.au – the only school in the Solomon Islands that caters for disabled students. Sophie travelled to South Korea in 2004 as an Australian delegate to the Asia-Pacific Jamboree and also to Japan in 2005 as a student helper with Kambah High School.

Sophie has spoken at numerous local, national and international conferences about the importance of the Asia-Pacific region and the benefits of learning Asian Languages.

Sophie Palavestra – Quotes

My world is very different to the one in which many older Australians grew up. On present life expectancy figures, I will live until I am well over 80. I will be alive and kicking in the 2050s and my children will live to see the twenty-second century. Can you even imagine what the world will be like for them?

My world is smaller, people move about, most workplaces are internationalised. Trade will be in technical skills, problem-solving skills and in strategic brokerage – not in commodities. Wherever I live and work, I will certainly be mixing with others in a multi-national, multi-faith, multi-cultural setting. In this new world without borders, knowledge will be the medium of trade and knowledge of Languages the currency of exchange.

I will probably work for a multi-national firm – working across national borders, working interculturally and speaking more than one language.

By the time I am 35, more people will live in Shanghai that in the whole of the South Pacific. The Asia-Pacific will be a strong focus of my world. A Hong Kong Bank currently advertises, ‘There are three billion people in Asia. Half of them are under 25.’ They are my contemporaries. They will be my partners, as well as my competitors.

Our capacity to effectively understand and interact with our closest neighbours and largest trading partners is vital to our future success.

Asia’s close proximity to Australia, population size and fast-growing political and strategic significance reinforce the need to learn something about Asia in our education systems.

I consider myself to be extremely lucky to have been part of an Access Asia program back in Primary School. Japan and the Japanese language caught my attention and my imagination. Ever since Primary School I have had a keen interest in the Asia-Pacific region and have chosen to continue my Japanese language studies through to University.

Through my Languages studies I have learnt about cultural sensitivity, intercultural awareness and my role as a global citizen. I have also had the opportunity to travel to Japan and Korea. There I was able not only to converse in Japanese, but also to communicate on a deeper level – a level that you can’t get out of a phrasebook.

I think through studying a language I have been equipped with not only knowledge, but also cultural understanding. Languages education has widened my world-view in a way that will equip me for my future journey into the borderless world that awaits me. It’s really an education for life.