Simon Fenske

Simon Fenske_640x360.jpg
Simon Fenske completed a Bachelor of Pacific Studies at the Australian National University (ANU)

As the first member of his family to travel to Canberra, let alone study at The Australian National University (ANU), Cairns-native Simon Fenske braved the capital’s cool climate to join a community of the world’s leaders in Pacific Studies.

The Bachelor of Pacific Studies student began his studies unsure about what he intended to focus on, but he was attracted to the flexibility of the Bachelor of Philosophy (PhB) program and the beautiful natural scenery of the ANU campus.

Before starting at ANU, Simon spent time volunteering in Vanuatu, which influenced his decision to learn more about the Pacific region. Initially he enrolled in Environmental Studies and Pacific Studies courses, which opened up a variety of unique study opportunities. In his first year, Simon travelled to Hawaii on the Pacific Islands Field School program.

It was our first chance to apply what we’d learnt in the classroom in a practical setting. The course reminded me that an awareness of Indigenous cultures should be a priority in addressing issues in the Pacific.

Simon went on to become the first ANU student to study abroad at the University of Hawaii, where he spent an additional six months learning about taro cultivation, Hawaiian traditional medicine and culture, and even took classes in the Hawaiian language.

“My experience in Hawaii showed me the importance of being flexible in what you’re learning in order to apply it to different cultures.”

Still eager to travel more in the region, the independent research component of Simon’s PhB program allowed him to travel to Samoa to observe elections alongside a group of the world’s experts in Pacific politics. This time spent in Samoa influenced Simon’s decision to switch to the Bachelor of Pacific Studies program.

One of Simon’s goals was to put what he learnt into practice once again, and contribute to solutions to environmental and social issues in the Pacific. He currently works as a Program Officer for AgUnity supporting the implementation of agricultural development projects. AgUnity is a global technology platform that provides a range of solutions from secure digital identity and financial inclusion, through to remote management and practical know-how that is relevant for last-mile communities.