Tuesday, June 2, 2015

An opportunity in Australia

Having recently returned home from my four-month Endeavour Fellowship at UWA in Perth, I wanted to share a little bit of my experience. I also want to encourage international artists to apply for the Endeavour program. It's substantial money and, in my experience, not that hard to get. It's certainly worth the effort to apply. Complete information is available on their website.
I was able to rent this sweet little cottage near campus
The program I applied for was the Endeavour Executive Fellowship. This provides up to $18,500AUD for travel and expenses for a residency for "professional development." (Four months is the maximum. It's not necessary to spend that much time there.) This means my program was not part of a research project or academic degree. They have other fellowships for those (with more money associated with them for longer periods). The "program" I described was not a formal conference or classes. I described my program as generally wanting to make personal professional contacts with colleagues I've worked with for the last several years.

If you've ever considered an extended trip to Australia, this is a great way to do it. If this is something you want to try, do contact Jay Jay and/or myself. I can happily advise you about the nuts and bolts of applying. But Jay Jay is the guy who would be your institutional sponsor.

I tried hard to arrange my fellowship to coincide with the worst part of winter at home in Kentucky. Since they don't notify people of their application results until late November (guidelines say December), it was a mad scramble for me to get my life together enough to be away for four months beginning in early January. As it was, there was a brief delay in getting my visa approved, so I did not actually leave until 18 January. Just in time to avoid what would be a pretty brutal winter, arriving in Perth in Australia's hot mid-summer. I returned home in mid-May, just as Australia heads into winter and the nights were getting cool. I now get to enjoy a second long summer at home.

My stay in Australia was definitely a learning experience. The first thing I learned is that everything there costs about double on average what it does at home, even accounting for exchange rates. And since they are on the metric system, I was a bit taken aback to see chicken for sale in the grocery for $18 a kilo. Despite that, the fellowship is sufficient to live on if you live frugally, as I do normally anyway. I was fortunate to find housing within walking distance of campus, but I paid a lot for the privilege. The alternative would have been relying on bus schedules and the associated costs of transportation. I thought about buying a cheap bike while there, but ultimately I decided I needed the exercise and I enjoyed the walk to the office every day. But a bicycle would have made going to the grocery store a lot easier.

Aside from the mechanics of getting the grant, arranging transportation and housing, and figuring out day to day living, the experience of being in Perth for an extended visit was an awesome opportunity. I connected with JayJay pretty much daily and he was an outstanding host. He provided me with a very good computer in a nice office space that I shared with three physicists (who spent most of the time writing arcane equations just like on the Big Bang Theory show). I joined his family for the kids' swim meets, Scrabble tourneys, etc.

The UWA campus is one of the most spectacularly beautiful places I've ever seen. It was a joy walking to work every day through the gorgeous trees and other foliage, listening to the birds, watching the peacocks mingle with the students on the lawn at noon. A stunningly blue sky that yields to the equally stunning Southern Cross at night. I often walked home late at night when the campus was basically deserted. The place never failed to awe and inspire me.
The back side of Winthrop Hall at night

And most of all I met some wonderful friends from SL who basically adopted me as one of their own and who I'm sure are now lifelong real life friends. Everyone I met there was generous and kind and seemed generally happy to be living in such a wonderful part of the world.I''l be blogging about some of my experiences later, either here or on my own blog.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Opportunity Knocks? Win A Fellowship to Visit UWA in RL

The University of Western Australia’s ever diligent SL Art Curator, FreeWee Ling has just returned home to USA after a 4 month paid, real life sojourn in Australia.

How did she do it?
FreeWee applied for one of Australia’s Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships, supported by a letter of recommendation from UWA. To her great surprise she was awarded an Endeavour Executive Fellowship from the Department of Education and Training.

The Fellowship provided Freewee with financial support (up to $18,500AU) towards professional development opportunities at UWA for 4 months!

“It was an amazing opportunity to live in Perth for four months”, says Free. UWA is one of the most beautiful campuses on the planet!”

Australia’s Endeavour Executive Fellowship is open to international applicants from participating countries who are considered high achievers in business, industry, education or government. The Fellowship focuses on learning and building skills and knowledge through a host work environment in the applicant’s field or area of expertise, rather than through formal enrolment in a study program. It’s a genuine credit to Freewee that she was awarded the Fellowship. FreeWee explains the steps she followed:

“The Endeavour application process was fairly easy, all done online. You need to describe what you want to do, get a couple of people to write recommendations, get certified copies of transcripts, etc. But it's all carefully laid out in the online application. I'm happy to answer any questions you might have about it. You can't win if you don't enter!

"Once I was notified that my application was approved, the program turned me over to a caseworker who supported me from leaving for Perth to arriving back home. My caseworker was great, always responded quickly to any concerns I had and monitored my progress throughout my stay.”

There are a number of different types of international grants available for 2016, including the Endeavour Executive Fellowship that FreeWee got. You can learn more about them here.

UWAinSL is happy to support SL residents, artists or virtual educators who’d like to apply.

Submissions close on the 30th of June so you’d better get started on your application soon! As FreeWee said, “You can’t win if you don’t enter!” Good luck!

  • Second Life: Freewee Ling (IM or Notecard)
  • Second Life: Jayjay Zifanwe (IM or notecard)
  • Real Life: Jay Jay Jegathesan, Manager of the School of Physics, UWA
          Email: jay.jay@uwa.edu.au