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Foreign policy, diplomacy and Brexit: The Young Diplomats Forum

Written by GLP alumna, Jim Boga, who has recently finished a Bachelor of Arts in International Law and Global Governance. After graduation Jim is planning to get more involved with Amnesty International, volunteering and attending events, in the hope of landing a job there or in the not-for-profit sector. Jim is hoping to eventually work his way up to a career with the Australian Defence Force or the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

As a student in my final year I decided to do something different – travel to London for the Young Diplomats Forum! London was a city I’ve always wanted to visit and it was the first time I visited a country alone.

I stayed at a suburb called Canning Town and once I decided to look around I noticed how very multicultural it was. For the first three days I went sightseeing and visited the British Museum, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London and Big Ben. Then it was time for the Young Diplomats Forum. I was not the only Australian at the Forum, there were seven of us with a few from Macquarie, who were undertaking the GLP like I was. I also met some delegates from Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan who also knew some Turkish like me. Most of them were aspiring young diplomats, already working at an embassy or other position unrelated to diplomatic service. On the first day of the Forum we went to Greenwich where most of the morning speeches were held. As the day went on I met so many socially aware and insightful people. Before we got too comfortable we were given a presentation task to do in groups. Our topic was on post-ISIS Middle-East so most of the week was spent working on that.

Apart from our group project we participated in;

  • Visits to the Commonwealth-Secretariat Headquarters and the British Council, where we learnt about the United Kingdom’s relationship with other Commonwealth states and its role in diplomacy;

  • A seminar on UK Media and Foreign Policy;

  • A visit to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office where we learnt about the UK’s role in foreign policy and diplomacy;

  • A seminar on something called the ‘Global Vote’ a tool that allows people to have a say in what should happen around the world by voting in any election in any country;

  • A briefing with the UK Facebook branch to learn about digital diplomacy, which involved how to give people an insight to what’s happening around the world and;

  • A visit to the House of Representatives, where we got to hear from a few MPs on their views on issues facing the United Kingdom, primarily focused on Brexit. This visit was a highlight of the Forum!

The Young Diplomats Forum was mostly about the impact of the Brexit vote on the United Kingdom. The first group of delegates presented on ‘The Future of the European Union’ and sparked debate about the impact of Brexit on the rest Europe. Next was our presentation! While I was eager to give my suggestions on what should be done to combat terrorism and rebuild after conflict in the Middle East, unfortunately, we ran out of time.

Other highlights included a great Italian restaurant near our hotel which made huge delicious pizzas and a visit to Camden with some of the other delegates. The best part of the week was the celebration we had at the ‘Cuban’. It was a memorable night of dancing and getting to know each other. After the Cuban a local delegate invited us to his place for a few drinks. By the time we all got back to our hotel it was early in the morning! Unfortunately, we eventually had to say our goodbyes and part ways. I’ve already started to miss them but we made sure to keep in touch by Facebook and to try to visit each other in our countries. At the end we made a lot of connections and felt honoured to be part of the Young Diplomats Forum.

For anyone aspiring for career in diplomatic service, international relations, development or policy I strongly recommend the Young Diplomats Forum. It is a great way to meet people from all over the world and to gain their insight on international affairs. It is an intense but memorable experience for anyone that decides to take part.

My one piece of advice if you decide to take part in the Young Diplomats Forum or even just travel abroad as part of the GLP –

Don’t be afraid of getting lost while sightseeing. You never know what you might discover.

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