Water, health and community at forefront of Lucknow student trip

Western Sydney University students have visited Lucknow, a large city in northern India, as part of a New Colombo Plan Immersion tour to learn about water management and health issues in one of the most populated countries in the world.

Late last year, twenty students largely from The Academy — the University’s program for high-achieving students who are encouraged to be active global citizens — made the trip accompanied by University sustainability experts including Dr Michelle Ryan and Dr Richard Thomas from the School of Science.

Dr Ryan said the program was run with Lucknow University meaning the students were able to collaborate and learn with Indian students.

“While the content focused on water and health, the students also got to experience the culture, living conditions and food of both a city, Lucknow, and rural areas, Suhelwa and Jairampur.”

Planning student Frederick Bekker

Nineteen-year-old Frederick Bekker, who is studying the Bachelor of Planning (Pathway to Master of Urban Management and Planning) and is Vice-President of the University’s Engineers Without Borders chapter and is the General Secretary of the Student Representative Council, said he saw the trip as an opportunity to come face-to-face with the many global challenges that come with striving for global sustainable development.

“It was extremely challenging to see children suffering from severe cases of fluorosis and lead poisoning. These issues could have easily been avoided with basic water filters but instead, the children in these developing villages will have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives,” said Frederick.

“I have a renewed understanding of the importance of water resources and the utmost imperative it is to preserve it. In my career as a Town Planner, I hope to implement a lot of valuable lessons I learnt while abroad.”

The trip included visits to local schools and villages where the Parramatta resident said he could clearly see children living in rural areas had a far poorer quality of life compared to those living in urban areas.

“By matter of place of birth alone, the entirety of a child’s future in India is fundamentally shifted. I wish to live in a world where all children have the same access to basic living resources no matter their place of birth.”

Humanitarian and Development Studies student Sarah Cubitt

Twenty-year-old Sarah Cubitt from Liverpool is studying the Bachelor of Humanitarian and Development Studies and Bachelor of Applied Leadership and Critical Thinking and said the trip was an opportunity to combine study and travel in areas that directly related to her degree.

“The Indian students were more than welcoming and so eager to both share their culture with us and learn about our own. But more than that, they provided a wide range of opinions, beliefs and backgrounds that made a significant difference to the quality of the trip,” said Sarah.

“In my studies, the Sustainable Development Goals are something we often refer to, and so to study Goal 6 – clean water and sanitation – in greater detail and in a more hands-on setting was invaluable. The focus on both Australia and India was also interesting and reinforced the necessity of global cooperation in addressing the world’s problems. This was particularly important for my degree, as the lessons learnt were lessons that will likely be applicable to my future career.”

The students on the trip and past participants including Michelle Boyle were inspired to collect donations of goods to distribute to local communities. The students took over 300kg of children's clothing, shoes, school stationery and baby items.

Students in Lucknow


30 January 2020

Ali Sardyga, Media Officer