A diplomat in the making

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Melbourne schoolboy selected by prestigious program to study in the United States

Education can be the passport to great achievement. That is the plan for Year 11 student Charan Naidoo, from Kilvington Grammar in Ormond, Melbourne, who will soon be packing his bags to fly to the United States of America to study.

Charan is one of five students in Australia, and the only student selected from Victoria, to be awarded a scholarship by ASSIST (American Secondary Schools for International Students Scholarship) to study in the US.

Charan is “very happy” he was chosen to attend the Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon. He will commence his studies as a full scholarship student at the renowned independent school from August 2015 through to June 2016.

The process of application and selection for ASSIST was rigorous – involving paperwork, written essays, letters of recommendation from teachers and a final interview. The selection criteria included a number of competencies on a balanced scorecard: academic excellence, leadership capability, current involvement in extra-curricular activities, English language and debating competency, sporting excellence and soon.

Of the 1471 students who applied for the ASSIST scholarship worldwide, 171 students from 20 countries were awarded the scholarship. Only half of those students received full scholarships and Charan Naidoo, who is Kilvington Grammar’s Language and Debating Captain, was among them.

While studying abroad is an exciting and increasingly common option nowadays, it nonetheless entails getting on a plane and leaving your comfort zone and family for an extended period of time. Will it be hard for Charan?

“Of course there will be a bit of nerves and I am sure a few tears will be shed, however, this is a great opportunity to learn a new way of life,” Charan said. “I have always had a deep interest in the US and was delighted with this chance to live the American dream.”

What lessons does he hope to share with people in the US? “Australia is perceived to be in the middle of nowhere and not a great lot is known about it,” Charan said. “I am looking forward to representing Australia on a global platform and would like to share the richness and beauty of the Australian way of life with people.”

The Naidoo family migrated to Australia in 2002. Suria Naidoo and Nesan Naidoo have always maintained and instilled the importance of a good education in their three children. (Charan has a sister and a brother, who are 20 and 14 years old respectively.)

Charan’s father Nesan Naidoo is well known within the Indian community as the first CEO for Indian Banking with ANZ in Melbourne. Nesan is currently running a global coaching and training company that he established in 2011.

Following in his dad’s footsteps Charan believes that education is the pathway to success and effective leadership. He is hoping that this stint in the US will potentially provide him with further skills in academics, leadership and cultural understanding on a global level.

Charan, who aspires to be an ambassador and diplomat for the United Nations, claims to have written to more than forty embassies around the world seeking guidance on pursuing a career in the foreign services, and to gain an understanding of the life of a diplomat. He received responses from many embassies including New Zealand, Cuba, Norway, Belgium, Spain, Denmark, The Hague and Russia.

According to Charan, the common thread among the responses suggested that the life of a diplomat can be challenging and it requires good communication skills, flexibility, knowledge of different languages, community involvement, leadership and public speaking skills amongst other desirable qualifications.

“I have always aspired to bring about a change at some level and to contribute towards promoting harmony and peace on a global scale,” Charan said when asked about his choice of career. “I feel the UN can play an important role in bringing about world peace and hence the attraction to work with them.”

Charan seems to have a clear sense of what is important to him and is making an effort to improve the world and make a difference. Hopefully, as he grows and develops with this experience, he continues to infect others with his passion and his ability to inspire.

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Preeti Jabbal
Preeti is the Melbourne Coordinator of Indian Link.