Friday, September 17, 2010

The tale of 5 countries and many cities

Being able to take two months travelling around Europe was an amazing experience and the things I experienced and the things I saw will stay with me for a life time.

First stop was Geneva where I participated in the United Nations Graduate Study Programme and was a definite highlight. It taught me so much about global politics and gave me the opportunity to hang out with the most amazing passionate and group of people who all want to improve the state of the planet. Even to this day I miss their multi-lingual banter and phenomenal knowledge of international relations and global affairs.

All good things have to come to an end but not quite yet because there was some serious fun to be had in other parts of Europe.

Dublin began the backpacking segment and it was a dream come true to visit this vibrant and funky city. It was as cool as I had hoped and in between the pints of Guinness there were walking tours of the town, visits to the country side as well as to several museums and art galleries. It was also cool to meet new people from all over the world in the youth hostels and something that happens often in a solo backpacking trip.

Edinburgh was amazing! It was dark and gloomy but there was something intriguing about it. With its magical and mysterious architecture provided hours of exploration and way too many photos. I also headed to the highlands where its stark beauty often left me breathless. A visit to Lochness was a nice opportunity to get out of the city and, as usual, nessie did an epic no show. Scotland was finished up with a trip to St Andrews and while Prince William wasn’t there, it was quite pretty and well worth a visit even if you are not into golf or royalty watching.

A visit to London was squeezed in before going to continental Europe and I can’t ever go to the other side of the world without going to the capital near where I grew up. I love the place!! It is so familiar and holds so many memories which made it so hard to leave. Luckily, student accommodation in the mid of London provided a good base for visit the standard “Sights” such as Houses of Parliament, National Gallery (my all time favorite) and Stonehenge.

Next was Amsterdam which is just elegant as Paris without the attitude. Here, it was more art galleries and museums (including the Heineken Brewery) such as Anne Frank’s house. It was nice to meet up with the parental unit who I hadn’t seen for a while as well as got to meet relatives whom I only heard about but had never met. I loved Amsterdam; I found it so cute with its bicycles and canals, I could easily live there.

Finally, Paris was the last stop before my Parents 50th Wedding Anniversary in Neuchatel (Switzerland) and returning home. I love Paris and never get board of its charm and elegance. My number one mission was to visit as many galleries and museums as possible but since it rained no shop this was met easily. The highlights were the Centre Pompidou, Asian Arts and Civilization Museum, Rodin Museum as well as the Jewish Museum and the hidden jewels that are there.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A peep into another world

When you study International Relations, the United Nations and its role in global politics becomes a big focus. It was beyond exciting when I was accepted into its Study Programme  and an opportunity that was a peep into another world.

The past few weeks have seen speakers from many UN agencies and associated organizations such as the UN Environment Programme, World Food Programme, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, International Committee of the Red Cross, and the World Trade Organisation as well as many more. While they took a general approach, many briefly touched on this year’s topic which was “United to combat climate change to safeguard international peace and security”

There were memorable statement and ideas, such as Brigitte Leoni (Media Relations Officer of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) who commented that “Education makes the difference between life and death”. Another was when Ban Ki-Moon, in a speech to the 3rd World Conferences of Parliamentary Speakers, quoted Strobe Talbott who said “no famines have happened in thriving democracies”. These gave us food for thought and how the UN is important in promoting the values of peace, democracy and working towards a common good.

While it was fairly intense during the day, by night and on weekends were spent exploring Geneva and more of Switzerland. Trips to the maternal ancestral home of Le Paquier and the town-with-the-amazing-views of Interlaken were great opportunities to refresh and clear the mind after a week of grappling with the great issues of our time.

There were also outings to World Cup, drinks on the lake and the most memorable would have to be wandering around Geneva in the middle of the night trying to find somewhere open because, like Perth, have early closing times.

Apart from the location, the people also made a great impression, with their ability to switch languages in the middle of conversation and their knowledge of global issues.

While it is sad to finish the programme and say good-bye to new friends, there is a new chapter that begins and a backpacking trip that will cover 5 countries.

Thanks must go to the City of South Perth and Ms Lisa Baker MLA for their financial support.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

UN centre of backpacking adventure

The eve of my departure is filled with excitement of the adventure that will unfold over the next two months. Launching this adventure is a few days in the father land however; the big ticket item is participating in the 48th UN Graduate Study Programme

The title is “The United Nations: United to combat climate change to safeguard international peace and security” and will be held in at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The programme will consist of an intensive three-week series of lectures and panel discussions on the United Nations. Participants will get together in working groups to participate in simulation exercise aimed at developing negotiating and management skills. A final document will be developed on the basis of the working groups' discussions.

The working languages are English and French and no interpretation will be provided.

Being a student of Diplomacy and Trade as well as having undertaken a 7 week internship at the Australian High Commission in Malaysia I am keen to learn more about such a key player in international relations.

It will no doubt be an adventure to remember and I can't wait to leave.
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