Modelling in New York

Rebecca Johnson is a current GLP student and the president of the Macquarie United Nations Society (MUNS). She recently attended the National Model United Nations conference in New York, and this is the first time that Macquarie University has attended this conference. Read on to hear more…

 

When Thera Watson stood up on the pedestal in the United Nations building and declared the National Model United Nations Conference 2014 officially closed, I felt the smile spread across my face. Looking at my friends, co-delegates and the people I had been lucky enough to embark on this journey with, I knew they felt the same way I did: relief, pride and a certain degree of disbelief. Five and a half long months of organising, planning, researching and travelling and we had finally completed the conference, for everyone, especially for those first-timers, this was an incredibly humbling experience. After a week of little sleep, making new friends, learning to be diplomatic and also dealing with New York weather, I strongly believe we have all grown, become closer with each other and learnt a lot through this conference experience.

The Opening Ceremony in the UN Building

The Opening Ceremony in the UN Building

Model United Nations involves representing a country in a specific topic-based committee or organ of the United Nations. In this simulation each delegates’ (students) final goal is to have written and passed a resolution with their other representative states in their committee. Since participating in Model United Nations conferences just over a year ago, I have improved my communication skills, organisational skills and become more diplomatic, but NMUN challenged me in a way I never knew was possible. The NMUN rules of procedure differ quite fiercely from those we are used to participating under, and as a result the whole delegation was all thinking on their feet and learning as they went. NMUN is one of the most prestigious conferences in the world, attended by over 2000 university students in one week, and we are incredibly privileged to have been able to attend. Sending a delegation of 12 students to represent Dominica, this is the first time Macquarie University has ever attended this particular conference, and the students tried their absolute hardest to represent themselves to the highest degree. The delegates that we sent were either in a committee by themselves, or with a partner, all performed incredibly well and we had some fantastic results.

Me and my committee partner, Seunghoon, in action

Me and my committee partner, Seunghoon, in action

The Closing Ceremony

The Closing Ceremony

 

As head delegate of the group, I was constantly hearing good reports back, along with funny moments, or proud moments from each delegate and events that had occurred in their respective committees. Model United Nations is not easy at the best of times and this is by far the largest conference any of us have attended. With our delegates studying diverse degrees such as Law, Arts, Politics, Finance and Anthropology and a diverse range of committee specialisations, these conferences are not only beneficial to our social development but also to our intellectual growth and there are many study related benefits the students will receive as a result of attending this conference. As head delegate I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to roam around committees and see how each delegate was doing, I was incredibly impressed with what I saw, from our delegate in the Third General Assembly leading a conversation, to those in General Assembly One making a fantastic speech, and various others writing papers or suggesting amendments. All in all I can say I thoroughly enjoyed this conference and was incredibly privileged to attend with a group that shares a similar interest in International Affairs and the United Nations, and after the conference I am very lucky to call each and every one of them my friends. To anyone considering attending a conference such as this, or even a domestic Model United Nations event; I would most definitely encourage it. There are all the benefits described as above, the potential of a new social circle and many others that I don’t have room to mention -including exploring and staying in the heart of a city like New York!

 

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München, ich komme!

By Claire Bennett

 

It’s hard to envisage, as I sit here contemplating the typically Australian landscape of Coolangatta beach and gnawing the ear of my chocolate Easter bunny …

… but the fact is, in just 15 days, I will be flying to Munich to participate in the Student G20 Conference! I will be representing Macquarie University as the Secretary General on the Round Table for Humanities, and presenting a paper on the politicization of the Australian colonial ‘History Wars’. There are eight Round Tables working in parallel at the Conference, each with a Macquarie University representative:

  1. Economics and Finance
  2. Law and Human Rights
  3. World Politics and International relations
  4. Social Affairs and Medicine
  5. Ecology, Environment and Energy
  6. Design, Technology and Innovations
  7. Education and Youth
  8. Humanities: history, philosophy, linguistics, arts and journalism

This is, truly, a once in a lifetime experience! I hardly know what is making me most excited at this point! I have travelled to Germany before, but never to Munich, and it will be fascinating to explore a new pocket of the world – particularly one so rich in history. I am also extremely excited to meet the other delegates, drawn from over 200 universities across the world. Many of these students I may never have crossed paths with, had it not been for this shared experience, and I plan to make the most of the seven days!

Some fast facts about Munich … it is the third largest city in Germany after Berlin and Hamburg. The name Munich, or Munchen, means “by the monks place” as the city was originally founded by monks and first mentioned in 1158.[1] Approximately 80% of the city centre has also been restored after the widespread devastation rendered in WW2.[2] It’s a shame that the conference does not fall on the last two weeks of September, as Munich is also home to the international beer festival Oktoberfest!

There are so many activities being fit into one week that I have a feeling I’ll need to get my stamina up over the next few days! But, action-packed and challenging as I’m sure it will be, I’m determined to take time to soak up the surroundings and enjoy every moment of this fantastic opportunity. The program thus far includes an Official Opening and Closing Ceremony featuring a Concert of Classical Music and Jazz Performance; business meetings with leading politicians and academics; Panel sessions for all delegates and Joint discussion sessions!

And the weather forecast… well, it’s a bit early to tell! But, we’re looking at 8-18 degrees on average! Perfect!

I’ll touch base again from Munich! I’m off to brush up on my German phrases…

 

Auf Wiedersehen!

 

pic - claire

 

 

 

[1] Anon, (2014) ‘About Munich’ Discover Munich (online) Available: http://www.discover-munich.info/about_munich.php

[2] Joce, W.  (14.3.14) ‘5 Fun Facts about Munich’ Veneretravel Blog (online) Available: http://www.venere.com/blog/munich-fun-facts-9869/

G20 Youth Forum 2014 ~ Pre-departure

By Claire McMullen

In a globalized world of over 7 billion people how do other countries view Australia and our handling of our most pressing problems? This is one of many fascinating issues a team of Macquarie University students and academics will consider when we head to Germany for the global G20 Youth Forum. Over 1200 young leaders representing 200 of the World’s top universities will gather near Munich from May 7th– 11th in what will be the largest youth leadership event of 2014.[1] The forum is both a powerful expression of the youth voice in international affairs and an important platform for global cooperation. With opening and closing ceremonies, presentations by students, academics, young parliamentarians and business executives, daily workshops, gala dinners, musical preludes and an extravagant ball, the conference will be a truly unforgettable experience. G20 Youth Alumni Association President, Ksenia Khoruzhnikova, founded the Forum in 2005 to provide a nucleus within the expansive, globalized web of political debate for the innovative ideas expressed by ‘Gen Y’. The forum celebrates both the diversity and interdependence of our global community. Young people will tackle the agenda of the G20, the leading global economic and financial conference that will be held in Australia in September this year. Over the past few months many of the Macquarie delegates have composed articles for publication and presentation on specific areas of research. The conference presentations provide participants with insights into different countries, contexts and cultures. By comparing domestic challenges and initiatives, sharing research and discussing issues of global significance, each one of us is empowered to learn from a diversity of perspectives.

Round Tables:

  1. Economics and Finance
  2. Law and Human Rights
  3. World Politics and International relations
  4. Social Affairs and Medicine
  5. Ecology, Environment and Energy
  6. Design, Technology and Innovations
  7. Education and Youth
  8. Humanities: history, philosophy, linguistics, arts and journalism

As a third year student studying a Bachelor of Arts (major in Politics and International Relations) with a Bachelor of Laws, I will represent Macquarie University on the World Politics and International Relations round table. I decided to present on a topic often excluded from international agendas but one that is a harsh reality for some Australians. Entitled ‘The Poverty Within”, I will be trying to demonstrate how our veil of prosperity masks the extreme poverty of Australia’s 750, 000 Indigenous people. It is an inquiry into the politics of international accountability and the importance of global scrutiny on an issue that, I would argue, should be at the forefront of Australia’s development agenda. By working closely with representatives from many nations in our respective round tables, we are bound to ascertain how people of other cultures view Australia, our contribution to international development, the adequacy of our foreign aid distribution and our treatment of Indigenous people and asylum seekers. Is there an entrenched hypocrisy in how developed nations often espouse standards they themselves flagrantly fail to meet?

Image

– Image of Munich, the capital of Bavaria. – Source:  ATP world Tour, Germany, http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Tournaments/Munich.aspx

The power of discussion to promote intercultural dialogue and an appreciation for diversity is crucial to achieving effective and sustainable solutions. Contemporary and enduring challenges for the international community including global warming, the threat of unsustainable growth, the depletion of natural resources and threat of war and conflict, are incapable of being resolved by unipolar means. For me personally it is a wonderful opportunity to listen, learn and share ideas. Like many of the Macquarie delegates, I’ll be heading to Germany a couple of days early to explore Munich, a city rich in culture and history.  Are we excited? My clock flashes, 15 days 1 hour 50 minutes, and I remind myself to breathe…

Claire McMullen and the Macquarie Delegates.

[1]G8&G20 Alumni Association, ‘Conference,’ http://www.g20youthforum.org/events/conference/

Adventures in the Capital

Gemma is a current GLP student  studying psychology. Recently she was a delegate on the Global Leadership Program’s domestic symposium to Canberra. This symposium involved a visit to Parliament House for Question Time, an evening with the High Commissioner of Pakistan in his diplomatic residence and numerous opportunities to explore the culture and socio-political issues of Australia.

Dear fellow GLPers,

I assume you’re reading this blog because you share that same character flaw as me: you actually enjoy politics! It’s a devastating sickness but we live through it, don’t we? Anyway, enough of that. Let me set the scene for you.

It’s a crisp, pleasant morning – as pleasant as 7am can be anyway – and us delegates are waiting for our coach inside a foyer. I won’t lie, we were a little awkward at first, wondering who would be first to break the ice. It really didn’t take long though. We soon realised we were in excellent company!

We departed anon and – despite intensely missing our beds – we were all very much excited! We could not shake the feeling that we were on the threshold of an experience that we would remember for a lifetime!

Our first stop was Parliament House. We were shown around by a rather quirky Austrian tour guide, who claimed he could make the Flag atop the House wave, by activating a certain tile – we applauded and expressed wonderment in such sorcery.

Inside Parliament House

Inside Parliament House

We then sat in on Question Time, which was a real treat! The passion and tension in that room was palpable. And we had the once-in-a-lifetime privilege of witnessing a tremendous moment in Australian politics: the Labor Party’s vote of no-confidence in the Speaker, a political climax the Parliament had been working up to for some time. The motion failed – so I suppose it’s not quite worth bragging to the grandkids about – but it was a cool event to be part of.

Next we headed off to the U.S. Embassy. We got so much out of it, not the least of which was a selfie with the ambassadors themselves! We were so inspired by their warmth and openness, and everything that their position required of them.

They told us a story about having to moderate a meeting between a domestic abuse victim and a reformed domestic abuser, and how the latter made a few too many tasteless jokes. They explained that despite how aghast they were over the disrespect that was being shown, as an ambassador, it is their duty to keep a straight face. It’s their duty to honour people they don’t even like, to let them tell their stories, and to listen, no matter how ignorant or offensive they found the story. I thought this was a really great anecdote, because it neatly summed up the virtues of a global leader (See what I did there? Global leader…ship program?)

On the second day, we dined at the house of the High Commissioner for Pakistan (I never get tired of saying that sentence!). The High Commissioner was very enthusiastic about the bright future he saw between our two countries: strong relations and exchange of knowledge. We were all quite touched by this. However, when he spoke about his desire to boost the live animal trade between Pakistan and Australia, I was deeply grieved. I felt this was a very sensitive issue, and not necessarily in the best interests of either country.

Meeting with the High Commissioner of Pakistan in his diplomatic residence

Meeting with the High Commissioner of Pakistan in his diplomatic residence

It hit me then how hard it must actually be for a government to represent a country. I mean, a country is not a homogeneous mass of people with the exact same values, attitudes and needs…a country is a complex entity, composed of many different voices and visions. It’s hard to make everyone happy, so sometimes it is worthwhile putting our swords down and showing appreciation for all our politicians do for us.

The trip also featured an amazing cultural component, including trips to the National Film & Sound Archive, and the Australian War Memorial. Now, I know what you’re all thinking. You’re thinking, “How can that be, when the closest things Australians have to culture are budgy smugglers and oversized fruit?” – And no one’s proud of those!

All the delegates in front of the Australian War Memorial

All the delegates in front of the Australian War Memorial

Well, I think this trip opened a lot of eyes to everything our country does have to offer – whether it’s watching, dumbfounded, as a mother mixes Vegemite into her baby’s formula, in a post-WWII commercial, or if it’s being touched by the sacrifices of our diggers: “He insisted on being left behind in the hope of being able to save the lives of others”. No matter how much Australians complain about our country (and we complain a lot!), we have so many blessings that we can delight in.

Now, if you’d told me last year that I was going to attend a politico-cultural symposium in Canberra , I would definitely not have believed you. But I’m really glad I did, because I’ve gained so much from the experience. So if there’s one thing I hope you take away from this story it’s that it’s worthwhile trying something different – because you never know when you’ll discover a new passion!

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Best wishes, Gemma.

 

Social Inspiration Week 5: The Finale

The “Big Friday of Social Entrepreneurship” was hosted by the Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) this February and I was invited to participate as a GLP ambassador at the event. Throughout the day, five inspirational speakers who all work in or around Australia’s social enterprise industry ran the audience through their projects and insights. This is the last in a series of articles recounting what I learnt from these speakers in short, digestible posts. Previously, I’ve discussed Susan Black, the director of projects for Social Ventures Australia (SVA), whose organization funds, mentors and  partners with social enterprises in Australia; Bec Scott owner of STREAT, a social enterprise which aims to end youth homelessness in Australia; Michael Combs, CEO of CareerTrackers, an organization which arranges paid internships for Indigenous university students; and Corey Steinhauer, managing director of Community Innovations, an organisation that arranges corporate social responsibility programs for other businesses and organisations. If you’re interested in hearing more inspiring stories or if you have no idea what a social enterprise is its best to check out week 1 here.

The final speaker for ‘The Big Friday of Social Entrepreneurship’, 2014 was Stacey Randell, the lovely co-director of EcoBag Media. EcoBag aims to reduce the use of plastic in Australia. We all know plastic is bad for our environment, yet how plastic are our lives still? If you were to calculate how many plastic bags you use in a week, or a month, or year and then do a quick inventory of all the things that you own or use that are made of plastic or have plastic in them – you can see how quickly it can all stack up. Stacey recognised this and after watching ‘Bag it’, a documentary on plastic and its effects on the environment and on humans, she realised her passion for ending plastic usage in Australia. She then started EcoBag Media with two other like-minded individuals, modelling it off an existing business called BagNews in Brazil.

stacey

Stacey Randell today’s final speaker

 

Specifically, EcoBag Media’s mission (and Stacey’s), is to reduce the number of single-use plastic bags in Australian communities. EcoBag produces bags that are durable, re-usable, biodegradable, Australian made, composed of 50-70% post-consumer recycled materials and are also FSC (Forest Stewardship Council Australia) certified. On top of this, their bags advertise local businesses as well as not-for-profit organisations such as the SurfRider Organisation and Take 3. EcoBag produces 20,000 bags a quarter which are then provided free of charge to retailers so that they don’t need to use plastic bags to package their products.

Picture1

 

On a separate note, Stacey has had no tertiary education, proving that you don’t need a university degree or a strong academic background to be a successful social entrepreneur. In fact, every entrepreneur we heard from have led very different lives from each other, and none had experience in social enterprise before starting their business/organisation. This shows that establishing or committing to a business or organisation which has strong social values is achievable for people from all different backgrounds with different life experiences. And most importantly, to be successful in this industry you just have to find what it is you’re passionate about.

 

Until next time, Georgina

 

 

I hope that the stories of the social entrepreneurs who attended MGSM’s ‘Big Friday’ have inspired you. This is my last post in a series of articles on social entrepreneurship, if you haven’t read my previous articles its best to start at week 1 here

Photos taken from the Manly Chamber of Commerce website here and the EcoBag Media website here

 

Defining Global Leadership

Megan is a current GLP exchange student from the United States studying social relations and policy. Recently she was a delegate on the Global Leadership Program’s domestic symposium to Canberra. This symposium involved a visit to Parliament House for Question Time, an evening with the High Commissioner of Pakistan in his diplomatic residence and numerous opportunities to explore the culture and socio-political issues of Australia.

 

What does it mean to be a global leader? I along with other GLP delegates went along to Canberra to find out. As an American exchange student, I expected to be enlightened by the political landscape, intrigued by the cultural differences, and surprised at the experiences, but I underestimated just how much my participation in the symposium would broaden my understanding of cultural and political issues within Australia.

Comparison of the Murrumbidgee River in Canberra and the Potomac River which overlooks Washington D.C.

The Washington Monument and the Potomac River (Photo credit: Examiner Website here)

The Washington Monument and the Potomac River
(Photo credit: Examiner Website here)

 

The Murrumbidgee River

The Murrumbidgee River

Upon arriving in Canberra to Parliament House, I was struck at how similar it looked to Washington, D.C. Question Time in the House of Representatives taught me about the nature of discourse in Australian national politics. The manner of debate in the Australian House of Representatives made me reflect thoughtfully on the similarities and differences in the U.S House of Representatives, I suppose I learned to analyse perspectives in the context of a larger scope, an essential quality of global leadership. After witnessing Question Time, I took a trip home-well to the U.S Embassy, where we had a briefing on U.S -Australian relations and posed questions to the diplomats. As they answered our questions, I began to understand the value of critical analysis in interpretation and how this ability is an essential quality in leadership.

 

MEGAN 2

The visits the next day focused on the cultural challenges within Australia and their political impact. We received presentations from Companion House and the Healing Foundation. Companion House is an organisation that helps migrants and asylum seekers who have experienced trauma settle in to Australia by providing them with medical and psychological services and employment assistance, as well as other services. The presentation highlighted the issues that asylum seekers and migrants face and the political pressures surrounding this group. I leanrned of the campaign, “Stop the Boats” and the rhetoric used to dissuade migrants from emigrating using illegal means. This helped me analyse the situation in the U.S in a very different light. Although Australian immigration problems are very different from the U.S, I gained a more profound understanding of Australia’s role in the South Pacific. I came to the understanding that events outside of your immediate geographical domain can still affect you.

The Healing Foundation was set up in conjunction with the Australian government to transmit words of apology for the suffering of Indigenous persons during the Stolen Generations into policy action through local enrichment projects, employment assistance, education, and cultural initiatives. Listening to the struggles of Indigenous persons and the efforts of the Healing Foundation, I realised that it is an essential quality of good leadership to recognise the past and evaluate the present in order to shape a better future. This ideal is what The Healing Foundation for Indigenous and Torres Strait people is based on. The presentation made me reflect on the treatment of the Native Americans in the United States and how advancements can be made to ensure their progress within society.

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We also attended a briefing and dinner at the Pakistani High Commissioner’s home. He discussed Pakistan’s history, their major imports and exports, economic prospects, their role in the world today, and his hopes for their future relationship with Australia. This was my favourite event of the symposium. I only knew a little about Pakistan and their role in Asia and the world, so I really looked forward to the evening. I was given a new perspective to examine the press coverage I had seen about Pakistan and understand the rationale behind it. I think this evening reminded me to consider all sides of a story before coming to a conclusion and that it’s important to keep an open mind.

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During the symposium, the delegation was divided into teams and assigned projects that related to different events that were to take place. My team was given the assignment to make a book outline on the history of immigration in Australia with a focus on Indonesian immigrants. At the end of the weekend, we presented our team projects. This was a challenging experience for me because I did not have any background on relations between Indonesia and Australia. After the other members of my team helped me understand the context behind the project, I felt like I was more able to contribute. The lessons I learned from each event of the symposium made working in a group a successful experience.

This symposium taught me so much about myself: how I can grow as a leader, and what leadership means in a changing global context. The most important lesson I learned from the weekend is that anyone can lead. I think that leading is about wanting to make a change and being bold enough to try, no matter how small of a role you think you have.

 

*All pictures courtesy of Megan except where otherwise stated

 

 

 

 

Youth Leading the World

Hello fellow GLPer’s,

I recently attended the 4th International Youth Leadership Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I had a wonderful time meeting like-minded delegates from across the world. I want to say a huge thank you to the Global Leadership Program for exposing me to this opportunity. It was a life-changing experience.

There were 20 delegates from around the world and were chosen on the basis of academic merit and a personal essay. I have now learnt is that it is better to try and fail then to not try at all as initially, when I applied for the Conference I felt my grades were too low, however, I applied anyway and was fortunate enough to be chosen. The conference was five days and we stayed in a luxurious hotel in the heart of Dubai. The opening address by William Webster, the founder of Civic Concepts International, encouraged us all to not hold back, to talk to everyone, to challenge ourselves by putting our own thoughts and feelings out on the table for everyone to critique and, most of all, to learn from others and employ the skills we learn into our daily lives back home.

The delegates came from all parts of the globe: Qatar, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Mexico, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lebanon and Australia. I was able to learn about different issues facing each of the delegates personally that weren’t filtered through a media outlet. I was able to talk to a young woman my age who fears for her life every time she walks out onto the street in Beirut, Lebanon, because of the bombings. I spoke to a young Kurdish man from Iraq, who explained that he felt an identity crisis every time people asked him where he was from. I explored Eastern European history with a young man from Bulgaria who had an amazing sense of drive because he felt he wouldn’t ever get out of Bulgaria. And I was able to talk to a young woman from Canada, who was currently living in Qatar who talked about what it was like being a western woman in a Middle Eastern country.

hiya1

I took notes whenever I could. Inspirational leaders from Price Waterhouse Coopers, the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare and the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding came to talk to us and provide us with challenges to discuss and consider: Instead of reacting, think and be proactive; Be prepared to provide solutions when you complain; Develop your ability to adapt to change; Don’t be discouraged by inspiring people – grow with them; Be open; Challenge yourself; and one of the most important points to remember: A leader is made.
You can be a leader in any field, in any group, in any setting. Being a leader is about being confident in yourself and making others confident in themselves. Lift others up, don’t put them down. What heroes do once, leaders do every day.

hiya2

 

Kindest Regards,
Emily MacLoud

 

The 28th International Youth Conference is on this year in Prague from July 20th to July 25th. For more information and to apply click here

*Photos courtesy of Emily MacLoud