Education and Arts

Students share their experiences at Manila's Humanitarian Symposium

Talented Bachelor of International Development Studies students Hannah Bouchier and Georgia Ferguson travelled to Manila in the Philippines earlier this month to take part in the Humanitarian Affairs University Scholars Leadership Symposium.

Georgia and Hannah spoke to Amy Ripley about their experiences there.

Hannah Bouchier

What was the best thing about your trip?

Interacting with all the different people. From the local Filipino people to all the different delegates from 45 countries. The Filipino people are very friendly and constantly smiling and saying hello. The kind hearted nature of the people was delightful to be around. Being able to talk with the delegates on real issues facing the world, and hear their opinions from different people was fantastic. The delegates were not only university students but lecturers, people who work for NGOs, graduates, mothers, and some high school students.

What kinds of activities did you take part in?

For the symposium we attended presentations on leadership and humanitarian workers who have achieved great success within their organisation. We viewed these presentations for 4 days, and on 1 day we participated on a learning journey where we helped by providing manual labour in building houses in a community in Quezon city just out of the Philippines, after we got to talk to the community and meet families who live in the houses.

How did you incorporate what you have learned so far from your degree into your trip?

I have learnt a great deal on different approaches to international development, so I was able to critique and discuss different approaches to development with delegates. It was good to share my knowledge with delegates who were not aware of certain approaches to development.  I was very cautious of my presence in the Philippines and was careful to be respectful to the culture. I was able to understand their presentations at a deeper level from relating their experiences to my studies, this provided great insight and admiration for the dedication they have to see a better world, improving the lives of the poor.

How has the trip inspired you for the future?

The trip has just affirmed my commitment to my passions of justice and equality within our world, to graduate from my degree and to use it to see my passion come true. My dedication, motivation and heartfelt desire to achieve my goals have never been stronger.  I would really like to see more people to acknowledge their great fortune to live in Australia, work to use the skills and knowledge they have been blessed with, to assist  and interact others in the world.

We would also like to say a big thank you to Professor Cummins for sponsoring Georgia and myself to partake in this experience, would not have occurred without her generosity.

Georgia Ferguson

What was the best thing about your trip?

The highlight of the trip for me was meeting the other delegates. There were 700 people from over 45 different countries. Every person I met had an interesting story of how they came to be involved in the Humanitarian Affairs University Scholars Leadership Symposium. The vast array of backgrounds, areas of study and cultures made for many interesting and eye opening conversations.

What kinds of activities did you take part in?

The symposium consisted of talks from internationally recognised motivational speakers and workshop trainers as well as a number of inspiring humanitarian speakers, all of whom are the founders of established Non-Governmental Organisations. Through their personal experiences, lessons learned and knowledge gained the speakers motivated, inspired and equipped delegates to be future leaders in social change.

As a part of the symposium delegates were also given the opportunity to spend one day taking part in a learning journey. On our learning journey” Hannah and I were allocated to the Habitat for Humanity project where we helped build houses for a poor community in Quezon City, Manila. As well as hauling bricks, shovelling sand and mixing cements we were lucky enough to spend some time with a family currently living in one of the completed houses and hear their story.

How did you incorporate what you have learned so far from your degree into your trip?

I was able to incorporate knowledge I have gained from my degree so far mainly in discussion with other delegates. Most notably, my knowledge of anthropology allowed me to listen to other peoples' point of view with understanding, as I am aware of the risk being ethnocentric and only seeing things from my own cultural perspective.

How has the trip inspired you for the future?

The main lesson I took away from the Symposium, which seemed to be a recurring theme throughout all of the presentations, was the importance of finding your bliss. All of the speakers spoke about dedicating your life to something that makes you truly happy and the joy experienced when you feel that you are doing what you were put on this Earth to do. This trip has inspired me to find my calling and be really good at it.

 

Hannah Bouchier (Left) and Georgia Ferguson at the Symposium Hannah Bouchier (Left) and Georgia Ferguson at the Symposium

 

(August 26, 2013)