Members of the QUT community came together at Chha Restaurant in Bhutan to reconnect, share stories of their alma mater and meet our 12 New Colombo Plan interns and their supervisors who were working with the Bhutan National Legal Institute in February.
Professor Melinda Edwards spoke about the Faculty of Law’s success in obtaining multi-year funding from the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan and invited our alumni to consider participating as institutional partners over the next three years of the program to allow it to offer more opportunities for more students into the future. She also updated the crowd on developments at QUT since the last Alumni dinner, including the retirement of Professor Peter Coaldrake and the appointment of the new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Margaret Sheil.
“Uncle” Col McCowan then entertained the crowd with updates on the group of Bhutanese students currently living in Brisbane with whom he is still heavily involved, despite his retirement from QUT in 2012.
Chief Engineer, Lungten Jamtsho spoke of the debt he owes to QUT as a result of the real-world experience he obtained when he was given the opportunity to build a bridge just north of Rockhampton as part of his study. He described his learning opportunities from that project as “immense”.
Deputy Director General of Audit for Bhutan, Chimi Dorji spoke about the value of his QUT experience both professionally and personally, expressing his sincere thanks to QUT staff both past and present. Dechan Yuden, Director of Human Resources in the Royal Civil Service Commission thanked QUT for holding the Alumni dinner as it was three years since the last one and she and her husband Dechan and daughter Dema really enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with old friends and relive their great memories of living and studying in Brisbane.
Sonam Yangchen, now the Director of Marketing and Communications of Bhutan Airlines then happily announced that she had investigated an issue the Faculty had encountered regarding our students’ rebooked airfares and advised that it was most likely QUT will get a substantial refund for the duplicated costs, which was met with great relief and gratitude. In closing, Yeshey Xangmo (alumni 2012) was thanked for organizing the dinner at short notice and was presented with a small gift on behalf of QUT for her contribution.
At the close of proceedings Gyamtsho Jem, the Manager of Hotel Galinkha (where the group stayed in Thimphu) expressed his desire to sponsor the New Colombo Plan program into the future by assisting with both travel arrangements and accommodation through his company Bhutan Mythical Travels. As a gesture of goodwill, he then also insisted on contributing to the costs of the Alumni dinner which meant that our students got to eat for free.
A very successful night concluded with strong ties having been built between QUT students past and present in support of the future of the New Colombo Plan project 2018 – 2021.