A talented team heading to Balata High School: Thanks to the New Colombo Plan

A team of staff and students from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane will head to Fiji at the end of this semester. They will engage with teachers and students at Balata High School in Tavua and surrounding schools. For most of the students, this trip was made possible by the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan with the support of QUT and the SEE Project Inc.  All student participants are undergraduate students in the Faculties of Education and Science and Engineering. Two Deans Scholars from the Faculty of Science and Engineering will also join the group. The group will be led by Dr Vinesh Chandra. He will be accompanied by Dr Richard Medland and Ms Zarina Shahbhan from QUT. Mrs Ramila Chandra of the SEE Project Inc. will also join the team. Staff members have self-funded their trip either in part or in full.

All student participants are undergraduate students from the Faculties of Education and Science and Engineering. Two Deans Scholars from the Faculty of Science and Engineering will also join the group. The group will be led by Dr Vinesh Chandra. He will be accompanied by Dr Richard Medland and Ms Zarina Shahbhan from QUT. Mrs Ramila Chandra from the SEE Project Inc. will also join the team. Most of the staff members have self-funded their trip. Their support and commitment to this project is truly appreciated.

The team will spend 10 days in Fiji. The group will design, develop, and implement classroom activities using ICT. Robotics will be one of the themes of this year’s engagment. The SEE Project Inc. has supported Balata High School through the donation of a range of digital technologies. Under the guidance and leadership of the school principal – Mr Segran Pillay significant progress has been made in terms of integrating these technologies in teaching and learning.  Mr Pillay has good support of some dedicated staff members and the school management board.

The team is looking forward to the working with teachers and students in Fiji.

The team:

Gayle D’Souza

My name is Gayle D’Souza, I am 19 years old and I’d like to think I am a very out-going and friendly person.  I was born in India and moved around a lot to The Middle East, Dubai, New Zealand and eventually Australia.  I love learning new cultures and love travelling to new and exciting places.  I decided to study Primary Education because I love kids and love teaching and helping young people grow.  I used to coach young girls gymnastics and I am currently coaching tennis to kids aged between 5-12 years old.  I am a very sporty and hands-on person and look forward to implementing some of my ethics at Balata High School.  I also look forward to learning how the teachers at Balata teach, meeting all the students and understanding the Fijian culture.  I am very excited to be apart of the group coming over to Balata High School in Fiji and feel like this is such an amazing opportunity and an unforgettable experience.

Olivia Gordon


My name is Olivia Gordon and I am from Brisbane, Australia. I am currently studying a bachelor of primary education at QUT and in my third year. I have always wanted to be a primary school teacher from a young age due to an amazing teacher I had in year 5. She was really amazing and caring and had a huge impact on my schooling experience. From having her as a teacher, it really inspired me to become one because of the way she cared for all of her students. I knew I wanted to be that teacher who had an impact up on the lives of students and was remembered for being an amazing teacher. This is the main reason as to why I wanted to go to Fiji and teach the students of Balata High School, so I can have an impact on their schooling experience and make a difference to their lives. I am so blessed to have been given the opportunity to travel to Fiji and participate in teaching these students. From this trip I really hope to impact upon the school by successfully integrating ICTs into the classroom and make the learning fun for the students. I also hope to develop a sense of culture from these students and staff at the school and people within the community. This is my first time overseas so I am very excited to experience another culture.

Matthew Turner


Hello, my name is Matthew Turner. Currently, I am a third year Bachelor of Information Technology student at QUT. Primarily I have been focusing on software engineering. During my studies at QUT I’ve written programs in C, C++, Java, C# , Python, PHP and Javascript. If I had to state a preference it would be Java for objected orientated programming and PHP for server side development. A key part of my learning experience at QUT has been volunteering for a QUT based educational program named Stimulate. Through this program I’ve come to enjoy not only interacting with my fellow students but actively trying to facilitate their understanding of programming / I.T. related concepts.

In terms of my reasoning for joining the Fiji Project, I would have to attribute it to firstly my passion for tinkering with the Raspberry Pi and Robotics. The second reason is the underlying satisfaction that an educator receives from showing someone how somethings works and then watching them take what you have taught and expand upon it.

Mary Mosquera

Mary Mosquera

My name is Mary Mosquera. I am in my third year of my Bachelor of Education (Primary) degree at QUT. I have always been interested in going on volunteer projects overseas. My greatest goal in life is to travel and teach anywhere and everywhere. I can’t wait to participate in this project because I believe that it will provide me with the opportunity to really help and make a difference in the lives of the students. My parents come from a background where it wasn’t easy to get a good education and they taught me to really value it. I believe that a good education can really change somebody’s life and being part of a project this one can provide students with this opportunity to learn and develop skills that are very important in today’s day and age. I really want to inspire the students to be interested in learning and their education. I intend to do this by having a positive and encouraging attitude.

Geoff Polzin


My name is Geoff. I am a third year Information Technology student at QUT. I have a passion for all things technical, and in particular an interest in programming and web technologies. I’m enthusiastic about this project because it presents me with a unique opportunity to learn about another culture and share my passion in technology with a new generation of students.

Katie Whitehead


Hi, My name is Katie, I’m a 3rd year Education student at QUT. I am very keen to participate in the SEE project as I can see that it benefits all who are connected to it. I feel like I will learn a lot from partaking in this project and am excited to have already begun work on this project. Minoring in literacy, I am looking forward to the imputting the skills I have learnt into a classroom. I believe the technology aspect of this project is very important. The SEE Project is a cause which I believe in and am excited to be representing and engaging with.

Jenny Nguyen


I am an undergraduate Bachelor of Electrical Engineering student at the Queensland University for Technology. Inspired by my childhood experiences, I have become very passionate about increasing access to education in rural communities. I also like to support communities by donating my time and skills in teaching, English, science and maths.

I grew up in Australia with a strong Vietnamese background. I love travelling and innovative engineering applications. I am fluent in English, Vietnamese and basic Japanese. I  have worked on a research project developing and optimising the production of biofuels.

Matthew Brown


I am an Information Technology student in my final year. I was fortunate enough to go to Fiji last year and work in the Somosomo District school where I had an amazing experience. This year I am looking forward to working in the classroom again and helping the kids with building robots. My goals for the project this year include deploying version 2 of the SEEbox, assisting in the setup of the computer labs and interviewing several of the staff for a journal article I have been writing this semester. I am really looking forward to the trip and getting to know everyone we are going with.

Amy Halsey

Aimee Halsey

My name is Aimee Halsey, I am a mature age student who loves the outdoors and animals. I currently live in Brisbane but I am originally from Rockhampton in Central Queensland. Some of my favourite things to do include spending time in the outdoors, horse riding, socialising with friends and listening to music. The reason I am going to Fiji is because I wish to impart the knowledge and apply the skills I have learnt at university.  I have also never been overseas so I am quite excited and I intend to make the most of the experience.

Danielle Wales


My name is Danielle Wales, and I am a 3rd year Primary Education student at Queensland University of Technology. I enjoy working with children and am excited to help others through this immersion experience.  I am particularly excited to go to Fiji as it gives me the opportunity to embrace another culture, to gain real-world skills first hand and to develop my experiences in incorporating ICT into the classroom. I am a fun and loving person and I look forward to meeting new people and having a fun and educational time in Fiji.

Chloe Fas


I am currently a second year Mechatronics Engineering student who has a passion for Mathematics, travel and new experiences. I have lived in Brisbane my whole life (hence my passion for travel), but I love riding motorbikes, and doing property work at my friend’s property in outback Queensland.

I am looking forward to going to Fiji as I love to immerse myself in different cultures and being at a school really helps with that. I can’t wait to work with the kids and teach them all about an area that I am so passionate about.

Jared Willis


My name is Jared Willis and I am a 3rd year Primary Education student.  I am minoring in inclusive education so I am always looking for ways to incorporate the missed student into the learning experience.  For the last 2 years I have worked at an Outside School Hours Care which has been very fun and rewarding.  I enjoy working with kids and helping them achieve the best that they can.  This is why I am so excited to go to Fiji, because I am passionate about helping children achieve the best they can.  One thing I have learned from kids so far is that you will always be surprised at the things they do or come up with.

This entry was posted in 2015, Balata High School, Participants and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A talented team heading to Balata High School: Thanks to the New Colombo Plan

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