ACU student interns at Vatican

Photo of Anushka Shrestha and the Pope

ACU international student Anushka Shrestha has recently returned from a three-month internship at the Secretariat for the Economy of The Vatican City State and The Holy See, with the Control and Vigilance section.

Anushka is from Nepal and is completing a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Accounting. She said the internship allowed her to make valuable connections and meet many well-known people. “The biggest highlight of my time surely had to be meeting the Pope," Anushka said.

"I received an email titled ‘the opportunity to intern at the Vatican’ and I was like – wow! I was on cloud nine getting that email which said that I had been invited to apply, based on a personal recommendation. Just to think at such a big university, I could leave that kind of impression was humbling and I am so grateful.”

Traditionally internationalisation and student mobility programs such as Study Abroad and Exchange are thought of in a linear manner – with students coming in and students going abroad. Stories such as Anushka’s show that internationalisation can be much more complex and interesting.

Kirk Doyle, Associate Director, International Relations and Partnerships said that "many international students don't realise that their Australian degree can offer much more than just an Australian experience. Anushka made the huge decision to travel from Nepal to Australia to study and that, in turn, led her to this internship in Rome," he said. "Her experience highlights that the best educational opportunities are not always obvious. Likewise, some of the most transformative international experiences are the ones that don’t fit the stereotypes. Many of our students go on to professional roles where they work closely with a network of international contacts, clients or multinational companies. For that reason, having an international experience before graduation is immensely valuable for students.”

This specific opportunity was the result of a meeting the Provost Professor Pauline Nugent had in Rome in 2015.  In discussions with senior officials at the Vatican, the possibility for ACU and partner Catholic University of America (CUA) to send interns to the Congregation for the Economy was first mooted. ACU moved swiftly to establish the internship and the hope is that Anushka is the first of many interns.

Chris Riley, Executive Director, International said “the internship program was an important development that not only supported ACU’s presence and activities in Rome but also provided a truly unique experience for students.”

ACU International played a key role in coordinating support for Anushka, including organising accommodation at the Rome Centre, a travel grant to cover the cost of the international airfare and financial support to cover Anushka’s personal expenses. ACU International staff also provided visa application support, coordinated arrival arrangements with the Rome Centre and maintained contact with Anushka before, during and after her internship. A senior staff member even visited Anushka while there to check up on her well-being.

“This was a big step emotionally, mentally and financially. I got well rounded support from the beginning” Anushka said. The Rome Centre, where free accommodation was arranged for Anushka, played a key role in the facilitation of this unique opportunity. “I do not have enough words to express how amazing the experience was. I did not expect anything so great, let alone this early in my career and in my education. I hope I represented ACU well," Anushka said.

Internship opportunities such as these show that students and alumni can often be the best conduits for developing important, new networks and relationships for the University and that ultimately our students are our most effective ambassadors.

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