Queensland Academies Creative Industries (QACI) student Vrinda Eswaran is one of just 16 students selected from across Australia to take part in the United Nations Youth Australia Emerging Leaders Program.
These future leaders of Australia will travel across Japan, South Korea and China on an 18-day tour in January 2019.
The theme of the tour, Shifting Paradigms in the Globalised World, will cover a wide variety of areas, from culture, to politics, to economics. Travelling for three weeks across three countries, the students will meet and engage with key players in this emerging region – from multinational businesses, politicians, embassies, leading thinkers, artists, NGOs and grassroots organisations.
We chat to Vrinda to find out more about this exciting venture…
The selection process for the Emerging Leaders Program consisted of two rounds of challenging question-and-answer based applications, followed by a final Skype interview. These questions were focussed around both getting to know who we are as individuals, as well as research tasks surrounding key topics and issues in relation to the East Asian region. Only 16 students were selected out of the hundreds that applied, and as the tour is open to students from Years 10–12 across the country, the selection process was quite challenging and competitive, requiring me to constantly think critically about my responses and perceptions.
There are many exciting things planned for us across the duration of this tour, but what I’m most looking forward to is getting to meet the other young people selected for the tour. Just from the conversations we have had online, it is clear to see how passionate and brilliant they are, each striving for change to make the world a better, more peaceful place. I am very excited to make acquaintances with likeminded people from very diverse backgrounds, and to hear their thoughts and insights into a variety of issues that plague our society today. It truly is inspiring to see other young people who are so active politically in our communities, refusing to let age come in the way of reform and improvement.
I have always believed in travelling not as a tourist but as learner. I value culturally-immersive experiences where I am given the opportunity to truly experience cultures and ways-of-life from the perspective of a local person. I hope that this tour will provide me with new insights into these South Asian communities and cultures, equipping me with a greater sense of understanding, appreciation and cultural knowledge. By understanding how someone else thinks and the various factors that influence their perceptions, it makes it easier to connect to them and appeal to shared beliefs, making conflict resolution more effective, where good communication and good rapport is established early on.
Later next year, I am hoping to enrol in an environmental management and sustainable development degree in university. Environmental issues are constantly being re-evaluated and their gravity is increasing, affecting every single aspect of life whether it be ecological, political, social or economic. Wars over water, energy and food security are already being fought, taking their toll on both the environment and human societies. Impacts of global warming and climate change need to be further recognised and actions of a bigger magnitude need to be taken to combat them. I have always been passionate about this area of study. It is an industry that will require constant creative problem solving, and I believe that the key to an improved and more unified world is through environmental improvement and sustainability.
When researching what the IB syllabus offered, it was brought to my attention the fact that the course had been designed with international-mindedness at its core. The primary reason for this is due to the criteria that requires the course to cater for a global community, therefore, involving an inclusion of diverse cultures. The IB Programme allows students access to knowledge and materials from around the globe, highlighting that we are a part of a bigger community where acceptance and understanding is key.
In every class, we are required to think critically about the task or discussion at hand. From day one we are taught to stop seeing the world in black and white, and to question everything; the bigger picture, the context, the reasoning behind events, theories, decisions and actions, and to not make uninformed assumptions. The IB has definitely allowed me to hone my skills when it comes to versatility and open-mindedness, as well as critical thought and analysis, which are crucial skills when it comes to discussion and decision-making about key global and societal issues.
At QACI specifically, we are constantly showered with opportunities to take our learning to the next level through experiential learning and creativity. Creativity and finding alternative solutions to problems in any field is an increasingly valued skill in the workforce, and I believe that the various opportunities in the form of tours, talks, presentations and activities that come along with the IB has provided me with these abilities.
I have realised that putting yourself outside of you comfort zone and making an active effort to try a variety of things, even if you do have a clear future pathway in mind, enables you to grow much more as a person and a learner. My advice is don’t be afraid to try new experiences, especially when it comes to subject selection, because you never know what might pique your interest, and even if it isn’t something you may want to do in the future, you will ultimately have a new set of skills and experiences. High school is the time for experimenting, so take every opportunity that comes knocking on your door, and don’t be afraid to say ‘yes’.
I’d wish for people to be more accepting of others. Just because we don’t understand or agree with something or someone, it doesn’t mean we can’t accept them. I believe that acceptance and compassion is the first step towards understanding and, ultimately, peace, which is where education and first-hand experiences of these issues in various communities comes into play. It is absolutely crucial to educate ourselves about problems other than the ones that we face to become more self-aware and informed about other. We need to constantly have more respectful and productive discussions about difficult things, because the more we talk and learn about something, the easier it becomes to understand the ways in which people think and respond to conflict, allowing for compromises and agreements to be made in times of conflict.
Vrinda has just recently completed Year 12 at the Queensland Academies Creative Industries Campus (QACI) located in Kelvin Grove. QACI is a selective-entry high school offering the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme to highly-capable students in Years 10 - 12. You can find out more about the IB Diploma at qaci.eq.edu.au.
Vrinda is currently fundraising towards the cost of her trip, you can support her cause at her GoFundMe page.