Having completed my final semester of my undergraduate studies, I feel compelled to acknowledge the Global Leadership Program’s unequivocal influence in the creation of who I am today.
I started the program in 2016 during my very first semester. Since then, the GLP has acted as a positive force for change during my young adulthood. In 2018, I completed a five month semester exchange at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). While I was always interested in possibly doing an exchange, the GLP’s experiential credit system gave me an extra incentive to go ahead with an exchange. My five months at CUHK gave me the ability to make a lot of international friends and learn about new cultures and perspectives.
The author’s photograph of Hong Kong taken from Victoria Peak.
Sunset at Luen Yick Fisherman’s Village, near Tai Po.
During the semester in Hong Kong, I travelled to Cambodia, Taiwan, Macau, Malaysia and South Korea. My travel around Asia opened my eyes and inspired me to commit to learning more about new cultures. Seeing different kinds of education, spirituality and kinship patterns inspired me to question a lot of commonly accepted aspects of life in Australia, such as consumerism and individualism. More importantly, it prompted me to take an interest in possible alternative systems of organising things like education, work and housing.
Author in Phnom Penh, Cambodia during her travels in 2018.
Supported by the GLP’s experiential credit system, I then began to participate in different activities that would provide me with the potential for enacting positive change in an Australian context. I completed the Campaigners for Change short course by Oaktree. This introduced me to the world of campaigning for social change and gave me the opportunity to write a letter to my local MP about the detainment of children in off-shore detention centres.
GLP’s colloquium series opened my mind to lots of interesting perspectives delivered by passionate and experienced professionals. My favourite colloquia was on the topic of spirituality. Through sharing his own travel experiences with different cultures, the facilitator led me to reflect on my own spirituality, which was solely informed by my Anglo-Saxon upbringing. I realised that I lacked a connection to my ancestors and was missing a telos or guiding purpose in my life.
This was quite a confronting find, albeit one with positive consequences. After some reflection I realised that helping others provides me with the most fulfilment in my life. Since then, I have taken a number of steps to enact this purpose, beginning with the role of Events Officer with MQ Amnesty International. Promoting Amnesty International’s BRAVE campaign alerted me to the dangers faced by human rights defenders around the world, who often face imprisonment in their own countries. Their bravery inspired me to recognise my privilege and to take action on a local level.
This led me to my next step, which was to become a Volunteer Tutor with Mahboba’s Promise, a Sydney-based nonprofit aimed at empowering female education in Afghanistan. As soon as I saw this role advertised on the GLP Facebook group, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. When I was in high school, a representative from Mahboba’s Promise spoke at my school assembly about their work in Afghanistan. Despite many years passing I had never forgotten that presentation. It felt like kismet.
Since being made Volunteer Tutor, I have helped launch a Tutoring Program for Afghan Australian primary and high school students. This has been the greatest achievement of my life so far. Since I began the role in September 2019, I have formed close relationships with the students and their kind families. It’s a great privilege to be welcomed into their lives and be a part of their learning and personal growth. Being a Volunteer Tutor has given me a greater sense of belonging, a reinvigorated purpose and a new ‘family’.
Words cannot describe the transformative impact of the GLP on my present and future. This program gave me the structure, opportunities and encouragement to extend my knowledge of the world and develop my capabilities as a leader. It’s given me the ability to inspire others to become leaders in their own way. No matter where I end up, I will never forget the new friends and memories provided by the GLP.
I implore students to consider your role in the world, and to think about how you can contribute to making it a better place. Take care to remember that there exists a world of people, cultures and ideas beyond your small sphere of family and friends. More importantly, never forget that as GLP students, and as young people, the world is yours to shape.
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