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Young Australian entrepreneur Craig Cowdrey: China has developed at such a phenomenal pace in every possible respect

(People's Daily Online)    13:44, October 11, 2019

Craig Cowdrey receives interview. (Photo/Lin Yuyang)

Sydney, October 10 (People’s Daily Online /Meng Xue, Xiaolin Xu) “China has developed at such a phenomenal pace in every possible respect. I think that the rate of technological change in China and the speed with which they have caught up with other countries is truly amazing,” said Craig Cowdrey, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sonder during an interview with a journalist from People’s Daily Online Australia.

In 2016, Sonder Australia was co-founded by Craig Cowdrey, Christopher Marr, and Peter Burnheim. The company provides 24/7 services such as personal safety, welfare and life assistance for international students particularly Chinese students in Australia. It provides rapid in-person response accessible on-demand via the Sonder app, phone and in-person. The Sonder app, with functions such as “track my journey” and “help”, can track and monitor users’ locations with embedded GPS functions. If a user deviates from the set route or sends out a help signal, Sonder staff will provide a tailor-made solution for the user immediately. By using the internet and information technology, Sonder ensures that international students can receive guidance and support on their study and life aboard before their departure and after arriving in Australia.

“Our ambition was really to launch a service that would make the world safer and more meaningfully connected. We developed a vision for Sonder, which is to create a global response network to help our members anywhere on the planet within twenty minutes,” said Craig.

As co-founder of Sonder, Craig has a deep connection with China as he is one-quarter Chinese himself. “I already had an understanding of China because my grandfather immigrated from China in the 1930s. But when I first went there, I was amazed at the scale of China.”

During 2013 to 2016, Craig traveled to many cities in China while he was working at the Australian Consul General in Hong Kong. He has been involved in many projects related to international students and one of the highlights that impressed him the most was the New Colombo Plan. “That was an initiative launched in 2014. Founded by the Australian government, Australian students are being sent to countries like China to get a better understanding of the culture, people, economy, and business. I was lucky enough to be involved in rolling out that program, which sees many top Australian students travel all around China every year,” he said.

Advertisement for Sonder. (Photo/Lin Yuyang)

Craig believes that any citizen of any country who travels overseas is an ambassador for that country. “All of the Chinese students going all around the world, including in Australia, representing China. For Australia, this is such an important relationship with China. Having so many students here from a country provides us a grand level of understanding and connection to the people and greater cultural understanding as well.”

In recent years, more and more international students choose to study in Australia and in particular the Chinese. Now more than 30 percent of international students in Australia come from China. Being far away from home, Chinese students can experience difficult issues due to language difficulties and cultural differences. Craig told us that Sonder is very proud to be able to support these Chinese international students and provide peace of mind for their parents.

“We also have a lot of Chinese employees in Sonder. Having language skills and cultural understanding is really important to us. They add so much value to Sonder and I am very proud to have them.”

Sonder is also working closely with many Chinese education agencies and organizations that send students from China to Australia. Often these agencies don’t have an office in Australia and Sonder filled the gap. “We work with them to provide the highest levels of care and support to their customers when they come here. We work in a really integrated way to make sure that their customers, who are also our members, get the best safety support possible,” said Craig.

Talking about China’s development in recent years, Craig said he was deeply impressed by the strong direction, leadership of the government, the policies put in place to support technological transformation and the investment into research and education in China.

“So many Chinese students come to Australia or other countries. That’s also an investment in the education of people when going back to China and applying what has been learned. They contribute to the Chinese economy strongly. Also, many Chinese universities are investing more in research and academic development as well.”

“China is a vital trading partner for Australia. China is going to continue to develop at such a rapid pace and become more and more important for the whole global economy. As a safe and stable location with world-class universities and schools, I think Australia can continue to play a really important role as a study destination for students from all over the world and China”, Craig said. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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