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I was one of the first students enrolled in the University of South Australia’s double degree in journalism and international studies. I’m now in my fourth year, which will drag into my fifth because of extracurricular commitments. The latest has been attending the World Youth Congress in Stirling, Scotland, as one of six Australian delegates.
Starting out in the degree, I thought the logical resulting career would be as a foreign correspondent! Some years later, after working for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, I’ve replaced that ambition with something a little more complex. The best thing about the degree – more than any lectures or tutorials – is the opportunities that come with it. I’ve tested the waters with jobs as diverse as reporting at the Rugby World Cup, looking at legal issues in radio programs for the Law Foundation of South Australia, and editing an environmental paper.
I’d say these diverse jobs, along with my international experiences, led to my acceptance as a delegate and journalist for the World Youth Congress. I was one of 40 journalists, and about 550 other young people working towards sustainable development, who attended the 10-day event.
Young journalists were asked to arrive in Stirling two days early for media training and briefings. This was in addition to delegate responsibilities of attending workshops and helping prepare a policy document, to be submitted to governments worldwide, and an action toolkit for young people wanting to contribute to development. As journalists, we were also involved in making documentaries that screened at the Congress each day, publishing a daily newspaper, and editing and formatting the outcome documents prepared by delegates. It was a busy 10 days.
The two days before the Congress, which included film documentary and photography workshops, were a great opportunity to network with young journalists from places like Serbia, Brazil, Cameroon, and China. It was the ideal way to get experience in both the disciplines I’m studying.
As well as being great personal development for all the delegates, the Congress will hopefully go beyond that and contribute to international development. I’ve joined some Australian and international non-government organisations as a result, which is just the beginning. There’s a worldwide movement for youth-led development, particularly in African and Pacific nations where, unlike Australia, the majority of the population is young people.
We’re lucky in Australia. Most young people have the chance to be students. As students, we have opportunities that most young people in the world don’t. It’s only in the latter half of my degree that I’ve really started to get active on international issues. I’ve been reporting on them, and studying them, but I haven’t done much. I’m trying to change that.
The next World Youth Congress is planned for 2008, to be held in Quebec. If it sounds like something you’d be interested in, start thinking now about how to get there. As a student, there is ample opportunity for you to contribute to youth-led development.
Make the most of it.
You can read this story on Students@UniSA.