Journalists, diplomats & lions in Australia’s capital

Last year, GLPer Karina participated in the GLP Symposium to Canberra, a four day study tour to explore the ideas and debates that shape the country’s national and international agendas. Considering applying for this Session’s Symposium? Keep reading for the lowdown on what we get up to in Australia’s capital. 

In short, we had briefings with journalists, diplomats, attachés, activists and a lion. We visited places which are of great importance to Australian history, culture, and society. The Symposium to Canberra was all about how to be a leader within your community and do good. Here, I do not necessarily refer to any stereotypical political or economic leader of some sort. It is not about that; you do not need to reinvent the wheel, nor be the world’s saviour. It is the small things that make the impact.


Karina at the news desk at the ABC Parliamentary Bureau, Canberra, 2016


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4 days. Food. Friendships. Politics. Nation-states named Emilania, Chloenisia and Tarastan. A coach driver named Barry.

Canberra is indisputably the core of Australia’s democratic and diplomatic relations The GLP’s Canberra Symposium gave 28 university students the unique opportunity to immerse ourselves into the heart of politics.

The trip began on a Thursday morning (7:00am to be exact- the earliest that I’ve been to university in the history of ever!). What followed was a wonderfully jam-packed 4 days consisting of parliamentary visit, debriefs with Embassies, NGOs and Tim Wilson, visits to the War Memorial, National Museum of Australia and National Art Gallery and a beautiful lunch at the High Commissioner of Pakistan’s residence.

Did I mention food?

A lot of it.

I need to repeat that again because there was a lot of food.

I came back from the trip and my jeans were way too tight (no regrets).

Some of the very Instagram worthy food.

Some of the very Instagram worthy food.

More importantly, I came back from the Symposium with a well-rounded view of diplomacy and democratic relations and this is something that I will take with me when I graduate.

If you have the opportunity to attend this Symposium, I highly recommend it. There were so many memorable aspects to the trip that it’s difficult to choose my favourite one.

Our trip kicked off with a tour of the Parliament House. Our tour guide, wrapped in a love/hate relationship of politics, gave us both an informational and charismatic overview of parliamentary proceedings. We had the chance to see Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey, Bill Shorten, Bronwyn Bishop and Julie Bishop in action during Question Time.

Parliament House Tour, taken by Fauzan Ahmed Tariq

Parliament House Tour, taken by Fauzan Ahmed Tariq

It was interesting to see how intentional every gesture or statement made by politicians and diplomats is. This was particularly relevant during our brief with Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson. Known for wanting to change section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and being a critic of the Human Rights Commission, we had the opportunity to question his standing on particular issues. He was extremely well spoken and very political. It was amazing to see him in action and although I do disagree with a majority of his political views, I do commend him with the work he has done for the LGBTQIA community.

One of the most memorable moments of this wonderful trip was our lunch and debriefing with the High Commissioner of Pakistan, Her Excellency Naela Chohan. We ate beautiful Pakistani food whilst discussing Australia’s relations with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the struggles that Her Excellency underwent in order to enter the diplomacy field. There is an air of authority and tenacity about her and I was both honoured and humbled to hear her story.

HE Naela Chohan

HE Naela Chohan

The Canberra Symposium was a brilliant insight into diplomacy. If you are into politics and international relations, I recommend this Symposium. You will gain everything that’s wonderful about exiting your comfort zone: a learned experience, friendships and new information that you could store in your brain and use for conversation starters when you’re in awkward situations and have ran out of things to say (we’ve all been there!).

On behalf of the delegates of session 2 2015 of the Canberra Symposium, I would like to thank Emily, Tara and Chloe for organizing this wonderful experience.

Although only 4 days long, it was a learning experience that will resonate for a lifetime!

By Eda Ince

*Eda Ince is an Undergraduate student in her 3rd year, studying a Bachelor of Laws and Arts, majoring in Social Justice.

*The GLP Symposium to Canberra occurs each session. Keep an eye on your emails and Facebook to find out when the next one is taking place!

Belfast by way of the Philippines and Canberra: A GLP Journey

I have been part of Macquarie University’s Global Leadership Program (GLP) for 3 semesters now. Within this time, I have managed to complete my 200 experiential credit points by taking advantage of the wonderful opportunities offered to students by GLP and Macquarie itself. Being involved in this program has led me to some very exciting places in the last 2 years and helped me mature as a person and I strongly recommend undertaking the GLP to any student.

In 2013, my first GLP activity was the trip to Canberra for the Global Leadership Symposium. This was an initial 20 experiential credit points, but more importantly it was an excellent way to start my GLP career. The trip was incredibly fun and I was lucky enough to share this experience with a great group of people. After this trip I was more motivated to get involved with other programs at Macquarie.

GLP Cultural Series Day Trip, Auburn.

GLP Cultural Series Day Trip, Auburn.

In 2014, I tried to make the most of as many international opportunities offered by Macquarie as possible. This led me to PACE International which offers internships and volunteer placements with grassroots organisations in developing countries. I had a 7 week placement in the Philippines working with children’s rights organisation Bahay Tuluyan. Going on PACE was an amazing experience that will remain with me for life. I became a much stronger and confident person and learnt how to work in a team environment with people from all different backgrounds. Going on PACE is confronting and challenging and I was constantly pushed out of my comfort zone, but I believe I am now a much better person for it.

Volunteering through PACE at Bahay Tuluyan

Volunteering through PACE at Bahay Tuluyan

Also in 2014, I completed a semester exchange at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. This is the quickest way to complete the experiential credit points component of the program as exchange earns you 100 points. It can be frightening to move to a foreign country for an extended period of time and to study at an unfamiliar university but going on exchange is the best thing I have done at Macquarie. I have made friends from all over the world and learnt how to live more independently and I cannot even begin to describe how much fun I had on a daily basis in Belfast.
While going international on PACE or study-abroad are the quickest ways to earn points, I understand they are not for everyone. Yet there are still plenty of ways to earn experiential credit points domestically. I earned 20 points for completing a Macquarie language unit and another 20 points for Macquarie unit of study with an international focus. I also was part of a team organising the fundraiser at the 2013 Distinguished Speaker Series. The staff at GLP work hard to broadcast upcoming opportunities, such as conferences, workshops and festivals, which will help you to earn experiential credit – so there is always plenty of support available if you’re unsure how to go about completing the points.

Queens University Belfast

Queens University Belfast

The GLP is a great program to meet new people, whether it’s for friendship or professional purposes, or to get experience in your specific academic sphere, or just to go international and have fun. I have thoroughly enjoyed my journey with GLP so far and I am excited to see what opportunities lie ahead.

Ellen Kirkpatrick has been in GLP since Session 2, 2013. GLP staff got to know Ellen on the Canberra Symposium and she’s a great example of someone who didn’t have it all worked out from the start but who made the first step and booked her Canberra trip and found the ideas and the inspiration along the way. Canberra, the Philippines and Northern Ireland in the space of three semesters ain’t bad.

Putting Canberra Back on the Map

If you’ve ever scrolled through GLP events, seen the Canberra Symposium advertised (thought to yourself “nah, not this time”) and kept scrolling – stop doing that because it is an amazing opportunity you will not regret.

We started on a Thursday at 7am (don’t let that throw you, it’s not so bad) and we, nineteen students and one GLP staff member, piled onto a bus and headed off to what most people would describe as “the boring-est place in Australia”, the nation’s capital: Canberra.

GLP Students at the Australian War Memorial on the GLP Symposium.

GLP Students at the Australian War Memorial on the GLP Symposium.

We spent our first day slowly getting to know one another; we toured Parliament House, attended Question Time and got to see the back of Tony Abbott’s head. We visited the Sri Lankan High Commission, where we received a briefing and some tea and then made our way to our accommodation where we finally got to take our shoes off.

On Friday, we had a briefing from Gugan Gulwan, an Aboriginal Youth Corporation youth centre and Companion House, a community based organization that cares for survivors of torture and trauma seeking refuge in Australia. Both briefings were a reminder that despite all the bad press surrounding these groups, there were people who fought on their behalf.

After lunch on Friday (Mexican food, it was delicious), we were briefed at the Brazilian Embassy and visited the National Film and Sound Archive, where I spent much too long playing with an display called ‘Fractured Heart’ which was used during a Gotye/Kimbra performance a few years ago.

Saturday was a slightly more chilled day; we visited the National Museum and the National Zoo (Canberra does indeed haves a zoo!) where I fed a lion named Mishka (not going to lie, this was probably the highlight of the trip for me) and some other students got to feed a giraffe named Hummer.

Lion feeding at the National Zoo.

Lion feeding at the National Zoo.

At the beginning of the trip, we were placed into groups and were given a group and a project on which to work on during our few days in Canberra, each with a different topic based around some of the places we had visited. At first I dreaded this project, I was unsure of my group members and had no idea how I would be able to present anything without a laptop. However,  but we came together on Saturday afternoon and got our project together. This was probably one of the best projects I’ve ever done throughout my entire University career.

At dinner that night, all the groups presented their projects and had a lot of fun being silly and having fun. My group won the prize (there is a prize, even more reason to attend this symposium) and we spent the night eating and celebrating with amazing, new friends.

On Sunday, we had a lovely breakfast of pancakes, took a group selfie then departed for the National Art Gallery. I’ve always wanted to have a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off moment where I stand staring at a piece of artwork and I managed to achieve this many times while visiting the Gallery. I also accidentally set of alarms and got told off by security a few times because I stood too close to a Monet but it was totally worth it.

We then headed for the War Memorial, where we were humbled by the sacrifices made by brave men and women for our freedom. We took a group photo to commemorate our amazing four days in Canberra and headed to the Old Bus Depot Markets (a must-do if you happen to be in Canberra!) where we ate and had a bit of time to explore the markets before we headed back home to our assignments and responsibilities in Sydney.

I had always thought of Canberra as an incredibly dull place to be and to live but those four days have changed my mind completely. If you ever get the opportunity to experience Canberra as I have – take it because you absolutely will not regret it.

Izzie Weerasooriya is a second year, Bachelor of Arts student, majoring in French. This is her first University-related blog post and she hopes it’s not her last. She enjoys long walks down Wally’s Walk, lying in the grass after exams and drinking coffees made at Presse Cafe. She hopes to one day live in the French Riviera or become a mermaid at Disneyworld.



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.



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.


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.


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