From America’s heartland to Indigenous rights champion

When I received my acceptance letter for exchange at Macquarie University one September afternoon in Indianapolis, I honestly had no idea what to expect.

On my first day on campus I was late for the international student orientation (nice) but fortunately, just in time to hear about the GLP and all of the culturally enriching things you can do in the program.  I don’t speak another language and had never left North America before coming to Australia. Even further than this, I come from America’s heartland and have had very little cross-cultural experiences. I immediately knew that the GLP was something I needed to get involved in and it was one of the best decisions I made while in Australia.

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Jaxon on the GLP Symposium to Canberra, 2016. Photo by Keyvan Dorostkar

After meeting with a GLP Advisor that week and attending the orientation (managing to turning up on time), I was all in. During orientation I was made aware of the opportunity to attend a Domestic Symposium in Canberra. I immediately started working on my application and to my great excitement, was accepted later that week.

We left for Canberra on a chilly Thursday morning in early April and arrived at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.  I had zero knowledge of Indigenous history before this and was appalled by the fact that the Aboriginal people felt the need for a separate embassy in their own country. Over the next few days, we learned more about the Aboriginal people and it really left an impression on me as something that was completely unjust.

Otherwise, Canberra was one of the best weekends of my life.  I was surrounded by amazingly bright students from different backgrounds and made great friends through thought-provoking conversations. I equally enjoyed hanging out with my fellow GLPers as I did making the most of the different speakers and activities. Meeting ambassadors from both Pakistan and the UK was life changing.  My friends and family at home could not believe the opportunity that I had.

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Jaxon with fellow GLPers on the GLP Symposium to Canberra, 2016. Photo by Keyvan Dorotskar.

Upon returning from Canberra, I was inspired to get involved with an Australian not-for-profit organisation I felt passionate about.  I came across the Bawurra Foundation, an innovative organisation trying to reduce the literacy gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Australians through a groundbreaking Kindle app.  I reached out to the executive board and after talking about Bawurra’s needs and my skill set, we decided I would best serve the organization as a social media manager.  It has been my pleasure to streamline the Facebook and Instagram pages for Bawurra over the past few months. It’s unlikely I would have become involved with such an amazing cause if it weren’t for the GLP, my trip to Canberra and introduction to indigenous issues in Australia.

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Photo by Keyvan Dorostkar

The GLP not only opened many doors for me, but also opened my eyes to the world around me. It helped me refine valuable skills and add some validity to coming on exchange to Australia.  I recommend it to every student coming to Macquarie for a Session.


Jaxon Sher spent a Session studying business administration at Macquarie in 2016. He has recently graduated from Bachelor of Science in Marketing at Butler University in America. 

The GLP Symposium to Canberra is a four day study tour exploring Australian politics, diplomacy, the environment and human rights. The next Symposium will be held in Session 2, 2017 with applications opening at the beginning of the Session. Keep your eye on the GLP Facebook group and your student email.

If you are interested in learning more or getting involved with the Bawurra Foundation please visit their websiteThe Bawurra Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation helping to improve the literacy ability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. They celebrate indigenous culture and regard it as a source of pride.

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