The Refugee Camp in My Neighbourhood: Cultural Series, Auburn 2016

Over the last several years during my time at Macquarie University I have studied and researched refugees merely in terms of statistics; where they are fleeing from, where they are traveling to and how many there are estimated to be. We have covered an array of international treaties and domestic policies that apply to their fundamental rights as human beings.

We have not however, been provided insight into the personal stories and struggles of refugees themselves. We do not learn about the challenges they face in fleeing their country, finding permanent homes or in gaining legal recognition of their rights. We simply do not study refugees in terms of their experiences as individuals, as they seek a safe place to live and work.

It was our tour through the Refugee Camp in My Neighbourhood, as part of GLP’s Cultural Series Day, which gave me the opportunity to hear real stories from refugees themselves. Located in Auburn, a Refugee Welcome Zone as of 2004, the interactive program highlighted to us the extreme difficulties they encounter as they flee their homes in search of somewhere safe to live.


Simulated refugee camp, GLP Cultural Series Auburn, 2016 (photo courtesy Amy Thomas).

The tour consisted of several activities that captured the realities of living in a refugee camp and was itself run by a number of refugees who had experienced their own journey in seeking asylum here in Australia.

We were given two minutes to quickly choose 5 things we would take with us upon being forced to flee the country, while noting asylum seekers often do not have time to do just that. Upon entering the camp we were confronted by security. A man yelled at us in a foreign language, while taking from us our jackets, bags and the few things we had selected to bring.

This gave me a sense of how truly terrifying it would be arriving in a foreign country, where you do not speak the language, do not know what is going to happen to you or your family, and have the few things that were yours taken from your hands.

Right to Nationality (right way up).png

#15 The Right to a Nationality (photo courtesy Chloe Spackman).

To register our ‘family’ with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) we were given documents in a foreign language that we simply could not complete. We saw what was meant to be a toilet used by hundreds of people, a mere hole in the ground, while ‘landmines’ throughout the camp reminded us of health hazards, including contaminated water and infectious disease.

The difficult decisions often faced by refugees were highlighted to us, as we were made to choose between either staying in an overcrowded house unfit for our family or risk paying a year’s rent in advance for better accommodation, without the guarantee of finding employment.


Contaminated water demonstration at the simulate Refugee Camp, Auburn (photo courtesy Amy Thomas).

The simulated camp was confronting and opened my eyes to the conditions suffered by millions of asylum seekers globally. Yet the most shocking aspect of the tour for me personally was the stories and pictures drawn by children, pleading to be released from the camps. The drawings showed stick figures crying behind fences, with sunshine and trees on the other side out of reach.

Although it was undeniably upsetting to see, I am grateful I had the opportunity to grasp a greater understanding and awareness of such a significant global issue. I feel the tour has further opened my eyes to the realities suffered by refugees and given me a new perspective on an area I thought I was already familiar with. I know I will take this experience with me through the rest of my studies and into the future as I engage in conversations surrounding human rights and issues of global concern.

Written by Amy Thomas, third year Bachelor of Social Science student and GLPer. 

As part of our ongoing Cultural Series, this month the GLP organised a special one-off opportunity for students to participate in the Refugee Camp in My Neighborhood, an interactive learning experience in Auburn. Developed in collaboration with over 100 community members and led by refugees living in Auburn the experience highlighted the challenges refugees face in finding a permanent home, the daily realities of life in a camp and resettling in Australia. Along with this experience, students received a briefing at the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque and explored the suburb and met with local residents in a scavenger hunt.


Rajasthani Warrior

It’s really interesting when you learn about the textbook version of India; how the pillars of social activity and political stability contribute to the economic growth of the nation.

I suppose growing up as an Australian-born Indian has made this textbook version one that particularly sparks my curiosity. The most intriguing part is that the textbook version is simply a vision that the world has for India; and one that India seeks to pursue.

The Cross Cultural Practicum component of the Global Leadership Program provided me with an amazing platform to volunteer in India, and to fulfill my goals of inspiring young children and empowering women to reach their full potential.

So off I went. Five flights later I landed in the middle of the Pink City, Jaipur, in Northern India in the middle of a sweltering, 50 degree summer. I always forget how crowded India is, and how the smell of spices and sweets linger in the air for hours on end.


A man pushing a bicycle loaded with supplies in 50 degree heat outside Hawa Mahal with its 953 windows, in which Queens would view the Pink City, Jaipur, 2016

The beauty about Jaipur is that the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, is cherished in almost every aspect. Gandhi once said, “If we want to reach real peace in this world, we should start educating children.

I could not agree more. The first shelter I volunteered at was located in Govind Nagar, east of Jaipur, where I saw that the power of education and the forces of home values had a huge impact on the children that were coming in and out of the shelter. The children were rescued from exploitation in bangle factories, human trafficking assaults and family violence. For children that had been through so much, they had the brightest smiles across their faces and the most vibrant personalities and of course – possessed a willingness to learn. My time with the children was spent playing cultural games, dancing to Bollywood music, covering my hands with mehndi artwork and learning about the importance of safety and security in the surrounding areas.


Sita outside the Albert Hall Museum, oldest museum in the State of Rajastan, 2016

Once I left the children, I headed to a shelter that was dedicated to empowering women to foster their own source of income. This shelter was perched on top of a hill in east Jaipur, and screamed of a Who Runs the World? Girls type of aura. I loved it. Upon entering this shelter I was greeted by dozens of women who had experienced household abuse and trauma. The women were learning how to sew sari blouses and create hairstyles and makeup looks for brides, in the hopes to be hired by a bridal party, as big weddings are frequent in India. We talked about the importance of developing skill-based experiences in order to pursue a trade in India, and the meaning of quality of life and the most important aspect of that phrase, which is happiness.

Upon reflection, the values enforced by society, namely; women cannot seek an education, nor can they work, as education and employment is for men, impacts the mentality of the children and the women in a negative, and almost isolating way that reinforces outdated stereotypes. As such, the textbook version had not lived up to the reality of India. This presented me with a classic case of the realist vs. the dreamer; the wicked problems of society and the overall stability of India.


Sita at Winter Rose Gate, Pritam Niwas Chowk, City Palace, Jaipur, 2016

Across seas, and through time-zones, I think about the children and the women and the memories created with them. I am thankful to have had this experience to volunteer in India, and will ensure this journey is imprinted further into my education.

Sita is a Postgraduate GLP student in her final year of the Master of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism. Sita was able to claim this experience as part of her Cross Cultural Practicum. 

The Cross Cultural Practicum is one of the core components of the Postgraduate Global Leadership Program. The Practicum provides students with the opportunity to participate in cross-cultural and professional experiences, including overseas study, community service and attending internationally focused events. 

Making money to make change: understanding our Innovative Leader, Audette Exel AO

“She built a career on making millions for the rich, but her true achievement has been using her legal and financial nous to make money for the world’s poorest”. (David Leser, 2012)

Audette Exel is proof that doing good is not just for some professions.

Audette with Sr. Christine - head of the Kiwoko Hospital NICU

Audette with Sr.Christine – Head of the Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda which Audette’s organisation, Adara, supports. Photos courtesy of Adara.

In fact, GLP believes that no matter what you are studying or what you hope to achieve in your career, the prosperity of our societies requires graduates of all professions and disciplines to innovate on their work for a broader social good – and Audette Exel is a sterling example of this.

In the 1980s when she was a university student in Wellington, New Zealand, Audette had already well and truly embraced her activist nature and was taking part in pro-feminist and anti-Apartheid demonstrations. She went on to complete her Law degree at the University of Melbourne and received a sought-after role at Australian law firm, Allens where she specialised in mergers and acquisitions and structured finance.


Audette discovered a passion for skydiving in her youth, she was 16 years old when she made her first jump. Photos courtesy of Adara.

As it turned out – Audette loved finance, and was clearly very talented at it too, so she figured out how to fit in to her master plan. She says that “finance was a piece of knowledge about power and how the world really operates,” she says. “For me, it was about having that knowledge to then effect change.” (Bloomberg, 2013).

In the briefest description of an illustrious career, before establishing Adara, Audette;

  • was Managing Director of the Bermuda Commercial Bank making her one of the youngest women in the world to have run a publicly-traded bank
  • was Chairman of the Bermuda Stock Exchange
  • was on the Board of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, Bermuda’s central financial services regulator, and was Chair of its Investment Committee
  • practised as a lawyer specialising in international finance
  • began her career with Allen, Allen and Hemsley in Sydney before joining the English firm of Linklaters & Paines, in their Hong Kong office, and,
  • was called to the Bars of New South Wales, Australia, England and Wales and Bermuda.

But at 35,  Audette felt it was time to get back to her original mission. After a year of research on non profits and working out just how she could contribute to helping people living in poverty, Adara (then Isis) was conceptualised.

“The answer, she decided, lay in the experience she had gained running a bank”. (Bloomberg, 2013).

It’s what she describes as ‘making money to make change’, and it comes down to one mission. “While Bill Gates and George Soros only began to concentrate on giving after they became billionaires, Exel says she didn’t want to wait until she had amassed a fortune to begin her philanthropy. “It’s the purpose of the business,” she says. “There’s one mission.” (Bloomberg, 2013).

Adara is proof that the power of business can be used to improve the lives of people in poverty.

The Adara businesses are businesses for purpose rather than profit. Their sole objective is to fund Adara Development’s administration and emergency project costs. The Adara businesses have provided millions of dollars in core support costs to Adara Development since inception, allowing 100% of all other donations received to go directly to project-related costs. (Adara).

Adara Logo

So how can you start envisaging how to apply your own unique set of skills, knowledge and experiences to innovate for good?

By coming to hear from the tenacious Audette Exel, our keynote speaker at the Session 2, 2016 Innovative Leaders Series (ILS), and by taking advantage of the post-keynote networking with other GLP students who want to do the same.

The World Economic Forum named her Global Leader of Tomorrow, Forbes named her a “Hero of Philanthropy” in 2014, in 2015 she was inducted into the Australian Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame and in 2016 she was named Australia’s ‘Leading Philanthropist’ by Philanthropy Australia.

On Wednesday, September 28, Audette Exel AO will be speaking to you as GLP’s Innovative Leader; lawyer, international finance expert, philanthropist and innovator of ‘business for purpose’. For more information on Audette Exel AO and her organisation Adara Group, check out the Innovative Leaders Series section of your Session 2, 2016 GLP Guidebook and keep an eye on GLP’s Facebook group and emails.

Five minutes with Student Ambassador, Aditi Verma

Hi fellow GLPers!

I am in my third year of the Bachelor of Environment and I hope to continue my passions for community engagement and sustainable development.

What’s something that we don’t know about you? 

I have a pet rabbit that is (possibly) a Holland lop. We named her Lola after Bugs Bunny’s girlfriend because she looked like her when she was a kid.



Tell us about some of your extra-curricular experiences. Any highlights?

I’ve had a number of extra-curricular experiences because of the GLP. The biggest highlight has to be going to San Francisco, California on a semester long exchange program. I’ve also assisted in a research project called the (re)Generation Project where I researched the connections between young people and nature and got to go to the IUCN World Parks Congress in 2014 where I shook hands with Luvuyo Mandela (Nelson Mandela’s great grandson!). I’ve also done some community service with WIRES, which has led to some interesting experiences, including watching a panicked kangaroo get tranquillised and being bitten by a Rosella. Currently, I am interning at the Sydney Opera House and learning about the implementation of sustainability in organisations whilst calculating the carbon footprint of Vivid LIVE.


Aditi with members of the California State University, East Bay Earth and Environmental Sciences Club in the Pinnacles National Park, 2015

What advice would you give to students who are currently completing the Global Leadership Program? 

I think the GLP worries students because they feel it is something they absolutely must complete during their degree and that it has strict boundaries. But that’s not true at all! The GLP is what you want to make of your time at university. It is what you are passionate about and enjoy doing, whilst giving you official recognition. The GLP’s underlying theme of creating global citizens and leaders is what gives you the potential to be world-changing and aspiring change makers. So don’t be afraid to push your boundaries, test new waters and explore your opportunities!

What do you wish someone told you on your first day of University?

I wish someone told me that university isn’t the end of the world and that failure is a part of the natural learning process. I think I underestimated the reality of university after the HSC and thought that it would be much easier and more predictable. I was so wrong! But through all those mistakes, and ups and downs, I have become a stronger and more resilient person. I learned to accept and apply constructive feedback and use these lessons to thinking more positively.


Aditi with fellow exchange students at the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, 2015

What business, person or innovation has been your biggest motivator?

I have always been driven by the idea that people can change the world for the better. I think Malala Yousafzai is one of my biggest inspirations. Along with her drive for equal education for women, her willpower and fight to change the world is what I love and am inspired by.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve been given?

I think the greatest piece of advice I have been given by a lot of wonderful people (including GLP Advisor Emily!), is that whatever happens, happens for a reason and for the best. There are many challenging times where you might question why something has not turned out the way you expected or hoped for, but with one door closed, another opens.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I don’t want to grow up any more but if I have to I would love to be involved with communities promoting sustainable development and practices. I strongly believe that people need to be involved in environmental protection and awareness in order for it to be effective and I hope I can promote this idea to others.


Aditi on a winter break field trip to White Cliffs, NSW with the Environmental Science Fieldwork (ENVE270) unit, 2015

Where would we find you in your spare time? 

I am a bit of a drifter and I like to move around a lot. But you are most likely to catch me trying to eat my lunch at Ubar whilst shooing away the bin chickens (i.e. Ibises), staring at the soils in the labs of E5A, or catching up with friends at Presse cafe.

Would you rather live by the beach or by the snow?

I wish I could have both but I might have to pick beach because snow involves me wearing so many layers that I end up looking like a giant marshmallow.


The Global Leadership Ambassadors are undergraduate students who actively participate in the GLP and want to share their diversity of experiences and enthusiasm with other students to inspire, motivate and advise them. Keep an eye out for them around campus and at GLP events.


Five minutes with Student Ambassador, Fauzan Ahmed Tariq

Hi fellow GLPers!

I am a third year Bachelor of Applied Finance student. This is my second year taking part in the GLP and I am a bit sad that this journey will be coming to an end soon, but I will be leaving with many pleasant memories. I aspire to make a positive change in this world. 

If you see me on campus come say hi! You are more than welcome to ask me about GLP and my experiences here at Macquarie University and abroad.


Fauzan in the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden in Stanford University, California, USA, 2013

What is your favourite food?

I love the traditional Italian style pizza with the thin crust and lots of cheese and maybe some salami slices on top as well.

Tell us about some of your extra-curricular experiences. Any highlights?

My favorite extra-curricular highlight would be that I am a qualified para glider from Army School of Physical Training in Kakul, Pakistan. I love to play soccer, and my favorite hobby is photography. I hope to start astrophotography soon because the night sky has always fascinated me.


Fauzan at a paragliding course with the Pakistan Army School of Physical Training in Kakul, Pakistan, 2013

If you could have dinner with any figure, alive or otherwise, who would it be?

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.

What advice would you give to students who are currently completing the Global Leadership Program?

There are lots of options to make up your 200 credit points, do not let the digits 200 overwhelm you. Try one activity at a time, and plan ahead. Seek guidance from the GLP staff, they want you to ask them. Finally, there are tons of Colloquia to choose from, go for the ones that interest you, try to gain knowledge by going to the ones that aren’t from your field.

What’s your favourite part of the program?

I like the challenge it brings. It keeps you motivated to achieve the final goal. The opportunities are endless, like going on a Canberra Symposium, where you get to meet many foreign dignitaries, or going on a semester abroad or just learning an extra language. It is totally up to you what you want to gain out of this.


Fauzan feeding a lion at the National Zoo of Australia on the GLP Symposium to Canberra, 2015

What business, person or innovation has been your biggest motivator?

My dad has been my role model from the beginning. Seeing him climb high in his military career with kindness, grace and integrity, knowing no boundaries, crossing every obstacle, thinking and planning ahead and pushing through with resilience, I wish to be like him. Plus having a disciplined life helps one achieve their goals. And this is what I try to incorporate in my daily life as well.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve been given?

I have been lucky to have a few mentors in my life and some of the best pieces of advice I’ve received are from them:

“A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because her trust is not in the branch, but in her own wings. Believe in yourself.”

“Winning is a conscious decision. Make up your mind whether you want to pass…or fail.”

“Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards.”

Your philosophy is…

being honest and straightforward.


Fauzan riding in Mona Remount Depot, an army depot spreading over 10,000 acres used to breed and train horses, Pakistan, 2016

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I aspire to become an investment banker and, after building my career, I would like to venture into politics so that I can make the world better for as many people as I can.


The Global Leadership Ambassadors are undergraduate students who actively participate in the GLP and want to share their diversity of experiences and enthusiasm with other students to inspire, motivate and advise them. Keep an eye out for them around campus and at GLP events.