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GLP: Breaking down barriers

Now I’ve known for a while that this blog post was coming up so it has been in the back of my mind that I need to find a topic. With so many ways to approach a blog – be witty, informative, funny or just factual – and as such, it took me some time to work out what I really wanted to say. I tossed up with all of these, but in the end, I decided to go with being honest.

In our everyday lives we live in our bubbles. We socialise with like-minded people, generally from the same background, and more often than not, people with relatively the same views and values. It’s not often that we glance outside of our own world, to see beyond the glass box that surrounds us, keeping us in our comfort zone. It’s so much easier to carry on living in our bubble. Incapable of seeing the outside, pretending it doesn’t exist, and settling for comfortable. But life is about so much more.

The GLP shatters the glass box and bursts your bubble. It opened my eyes to a world that is so much larger than I could have possibly imagined. More than this, it has shown me a problematic world that calls for change-makers.

My first experience of this came from the Innovative Leaders Series where Audette Exel spoke about her work bringing neo-natal care to remote communities in Uganda. This event made me realise the the privilege I had of being born in an area where hospital care is readily available and provided. It also showed me that there are people using their skills and training for the benefit of others and attempting to remedy vast inequalities.

A colloquia on leadership challenged my perception of who a leader is and broke down the socially constructed idea of who could lead. It challenged the idea that a leader is the person up the front: dictating, demanding, and powerful. It changed my own ideas about how I could be a leader within my communities, suggesting that being the loudest voice in the room, or the one who was the best at speeches was not what was important – rather the passion and drive for change was. This colloquia challenged me to find what I was most passionate about, to br

What really challenged my world view however, was another colloquia. It was entitled ‘Indigeneity: unlocking the value of traditional knowledge and culture’, and it presented Indigenous peoples and their knowledges in a light that I had never been exposed to before.

Often discussions surrounding Indigenous nations revolve around words like ‘problems’, or ‘issues’. There is always something that needs to be ‘fixed’, but this colloquia approached the conversation in a different way. Instead, it suggested that we should be looking at what we can gain from Indigenous cultures, how we can benefit from their knowledge that has, in some cases, been passed down for millennia. Seeing Indigenous people as a ‘problem’ doesn’t acknowledge them as equal – it assumes they need to change or be helped, rather than valuing the people as unique and integral to a collective culture.

It was this colloquia that consolidated in my mind the decision to partake in Aboriginal Studies in my degree, and it has been a decision that I am grateful for every week. The picture in this post is of me on Garrigal and Terramerregal land, exploring their history and culture. Without the GLP colloquia, I may never have been exposed to, or even known about, the wealth of knowledge and rich culture of the owners of the land that I now call home. The GLP allowed me to grow in my passion for new knowledge, and a gave me a newfound one for advocating for the rights of Indigenous populations.

The GLP has helped me overcome the walls that had surrounded me, built by my context and background. Because of the GLP I am now aware of the severe injustices faced by Indigenous populations around the world, and have been inspired by people like Audette Exel who have acknowledged a circumstance and done something about it. What’s more, the GLP makes you consider and become aware of other barriers that may surround you, allowing you to actively seek out more opportunities to challenge your world view.

The GLP breaks down barriers whether they be cultural, social, or even personal. Many people look at the GLP and see ‘easy entry’ into university, a program to put on the CV, or even a chore, but I’d like to suggest that the GLP is a passage to a changed world-view; one that challenges you at your core, but ultimately changes you for the better.

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