Class XII (2014-2015)

1. Bobbie Chew Bigby

Sponsor Club: Southeast Tulsa, Oklahoma USA, District 6110 

Host Club: Brisbane Planetarium Club, AUS, District 9600 

Bobbie Chew Bigby is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States and is a committed advocate for the potential of culture, arts, and education to transform lives among Indigenous, refugee and post-conflict communities. Bobbie is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation and her diverse Asian, Native and Caucasian heritages have been strong influences in shaping her life trajectory.  Bobbie graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with BA degrees in Chinese Language and Literature, as well as Anthropology. During her time at Washington University in St. Louis, Bobbie pursued research as a Mellon Mays Fellow investigating the revival of ethnic traditions and cultural tourism among Southwestern China’s ethnic Naxi community. In 2009, Bobbie received a Fulbright Fellowship through the US Department of State and was sent to Cambodia to pursue research into cultural revival and its impact on Cambodia’s post-conflict rebuilding and economic empowerment.

Following her Fellowship period, Bobbie consulted with the local non-profit organization, Cambodian Living Arts, on several arts education and cultural tourism initiatives, including the launch of the organization’s first sustainable cultural tourism program. From 2010-2011, Bobbie served as an education intern with UNHCR in Phnom Penh, the UN agency for refugees, where she organized education and training programs for the Cambodian Immigration Department and various refugee groups. After returning to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2011, Bobbie continued her work in educational programming and social work for refugees through employment at both the YWCA and Catholic Charities. Through these agencies, Bobbie engaged closely and advocated for Tulsa’s growing Chin and Kachin refugee communities coming from Myanmar/Burma. At the same time, Bobbie completed the majority of the coursework for an MS degree in Arts and Culture Administration through Drexel University. In February 2014, Bobbie began her studies as a Rotary Peace Fellow in UQ’s Peace and Conflict Resolution program. As part of her Applied Field Experience, Bobbie returned to Myanmar where she worked with NEED, a rural grassroots organization dedicated to educating students from Myanmar’s diverse indigenous communities on the importance of social justice, organic agriculture and environmental sustainability. Bobbie has been thrilled to be based at UQ in Australia where she can stay connected with her interests of peacebuilding within the contexts of both Indigenous and Asian communities. Now having completed her MS degree at UQ, Bobbie is heading to Western Australia and Northern Territory to work with Indigenous communities using cultural and arts programming to build community resilience.