A Young Farmers member is learning first-hand how to strengthen relationships with New Zealand’s strategic trading partners in Asia and South America.
William Robertson, 20, is studying at Shanghai University in China for six months before heading to Indonesia on a Prime Minister’s Scholarship.
The chair of Massey University Young Farmers Club says China was the perfect place for an exchange because he knew absolutely nothing about New Zealand’s largest export destination.
“Only now that I’m actually over here have I realised how interesting this country is. I’m studying Mandarin, Politics, Finance and Cuisine hoping to gain a good overview of the unique culture and economy,” William says.
In between classes, he has travelled as much as he can to get an idea of what life as a local is really like.
“Everyone is so accommodating and their eyes light up when you say you are from New Zealand. Although I love the vibrancy of big city life, I’ve come to appreciate rural life in NZ,” he says.
William has also been selected as a part of an agricultural group to head to Indonesia in January to study agriculture.
“I can’t wait to study what I love in a new country with a bunch of like-minded people. If travelling to China has taught me anything, it’s that you can never learn too much about life around the world,” he says.
Growing up on a small 200 cow dairy farm in central Waikato instilled his passion for agriculture, but he says what he loves most about the sector, is the people.
“There’s something different about people that work in the primary sectors, though I’ve never been able to figure out what. A sense of honest humility backed by huge pride in what they do. Milking cows, shearing sheep or building fences may not sound great to some, but it’s what gets a lot of people up in the morning. It’s really inspiring hearing people find their dream jobs in so many different areas when you are only just beginning to start your career,” he says.
An academic, William is a winner of the recent Young Farmer’s Excellence Awards and has earned an impressive list of accolades in the last few years.
In his final year of high school he decided to sit the NZQA Scholarship Agriculture and Horticulture exam - despite having never taken an agricultural class.
He managed to get the highest mark in the country.
“It really taught me that if you’re passionate about something and work hard, there’s not a lot that you can’t achieve. Even now I admit to sometimes rereading my past exam answers for motivation when I doubt myself,” he says.
On top of his scholarships to China and Indonesia, he has also received a number of financial scholarships enabling him to study his degree and learn more about agricultural industries.
“I’ve been invited to attend discussion groups for the dairy industry, study tours for the deer industry and most recently the Silver Fern Farms’ National Conference. The scholarships are a great way to meet a variety of people and get your name out in the industry.”
On top of studying he also manages to find time to play rugby for the Massey Colts which won their under 21 rugby division.
William will return home in February from his escapades overseas where he will get stuck in to his final year of studying a bachelor in Agricultural Commerce.
He says it will be a busy year, also having to focus on his role as chair in the Young Farmers Club and apply for jobs, but he’s excited for the challenge.
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