What is Asia Options?
Asia Options (AO) is a guide for Australians interested in exploring educational, professional and leadership opportunities in Asia.
We’re an online community of students, professionals and adventure seekers, with the collective goal of empowering more Australians to access and pursue opportunities in the Asian region. We achieve this by providing you with the tools, knowledge and support needed to bridge the divide.
Through the AO community and online journalism, we share unique stories and inside knowledge of Australian’s engaging with Asia. We currently have 300+ articles documenting opportunities and personal experiences from our six focus regions of China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
As the world looks to the rapid rise of Asia, Australia is uniquely positioned by our geographical proximity and our strong economic, political and diaspora ties to the region. Successive Australian governments have manifested a commitment to improving ties with the funding of scholarship and other youth capacity building programs. Now has never been a better time for Australians to engage Asia and to learn an Asian language.
Despite the opportunities available, there remains an information gap – many Australians who would otherwise be interested remain uninformed of the opportunities, deterred from a lack of available information, or simply fail to realise the importance of Asia.
Asia Options was consequently born from an itch shared by our founding team led by Oliver Theobald and Mirai Kirsanovs to promote the benefits and opportunities of Asia engagement. In 2014 we launched an online platform that centralises opportunities and information to help close this information gap.
Since launching, Asia Options has grown from strength to strength. From a small side project run by two university students, we have grown to a committed team of 15 volunteers. AO is fronted by a team of experienced young Australians spanning the region: from Melbourne to the iconic hutongs of Beijing, to the edges of rural Indonesia. Together, we plan and implement AO’s strategic growth direction, produce content, manage external relations with partners and sponsors, attend events and engage publicly, liaise with similarly focused organisations and run our website and various social media platforms.
Furthermore, we have partnered with like-minded organisations to support us in achieving our goals, including The Asia Society, the Australia China Youth Association, and Foundation of Young Australians.
In 2015 Asia Options was awarded an SBS Asia Connect Award and a Foundation of Young Australians’ Propeller Fund grant. We were also accepted into the Foundation for Young Australians Young Social Pioneer which offered in-depth training and the chance to pitch for seed capital. As part of the Young Social Pioneer program we successfully pitched to the UBS Foundation for $10,000 to build and sustain our new initiative, the Asia Options Language Program Review. As part of this project, we will be developing partnerships and road testing 50 of the best language schools in Asia. From our visits and interviews with teachers and students, we will build an online directory and rating guide of these language programs (our version of Zomato for language schools in Asia).
In 2016 Asia Options completed a video series project with IBM, as well as the Australian Embassy in Beijing to publish a guide on studying in China called Add China.
Our vision is of a shift in Australia’s engagement with Asia from being the exception to the norm – in short, to help build an Asian literate Australia. We recognise the disparity between the huge number of interested and capable minds out there and the comparatively small number of Australians taking advantage of the many opportunities to be had.
Our mission is to empower all Australians to explore these options and engage with them in order to increase their employability, knowledge, cultural awareness and contribute to a stronger generation of globally competent Australians.