By. Johni Korwa
This is a short reflection on my personal experience from the Asia-Pacific Week (APW) Conference 2016. It may be useful for those who consider applying for this event in the coming years. Let me start by giving you a little bit background of what the Asia-Pacific Week is. Put simply, APW is a student-run conference held by the Australian National University. The APW offers a valuable window of opportunity for those who are concerned about Asia-Pacific issues or keen to learn about these two regions. This year there were more than 500 applicants from all around the world and just under 100 participants were selected.
While it was an international conference, the APW remained grounded. I thought it was notable that prior to the opening speech of the APW (like every formal event I have ever attended in Australia), the presenter paid respect to, and acknowledged the traditional owners of the land (Aboriginal people).
During the APW, I have to say that all the sessions were great. The speakers were experts on the issues and content. For example, Tjanara Goreng Goreng (An Adjunct Assistant in Indigenous Studies at the University of Canberra) emphasized the importance for recognizing indigenous rights and reconciliation. Similarly, Dennis Blair (A guest speaker – President Obama’s first Director of National Intelligence) observed and commented on the war games session which was wonderful. Also, Mr. Nadjib Koesoma (Indonesian Ambassador to Australia), along with Mr. Charles Lepani (High Commissioner for PNG) and Mr. Somasundaram Skandakumar (High Commissioner for Sri Lanka) sketched out the opportunities and challenges in the Asia-Pacific region.
In this short article, I am going to pick up on four reflections that I find to be interesting and worth sharing. The first, is about reconciliation and the memory of conflict encountered by Aboriginal people. I reckon this is crucial to not only show a mark of respect to indigenous rights, but also to create a sense of harmony and peace among nations in this century.
Second, the map of Melanesian nations is apparently not clear enough and this lead to some debate. For some, the map expanded to a few regions in Indonesia while other resources did not agree with this expansion. So, it always depends on what resources you select.
Third, the rise of China is also a key issue in this 21st century. It seems that China is pursuing its strategic interest to be a leader in Asia but facing too much pressure from the regions, as well as from the US; just like the issue of China exit (Chexit) celebrated by Filipinos quite recently regarding South China Sea disputes.
Finally, although frosty Canberra winter made us freezing all the time, the committee of the APW did such a great job to give us a warm welcome and keep us alive in this cold. They were able to ensure everything went well including time management which is really crucial. If you consider visiting Canberra in winter, make sure you have proper warm clothes to make you feel comfy. But once your body adapts to the weather, you will find your comfort-zone. ‘No worries mate, she’ll be right’. Cheers…!!!
Johni is a master’s student at Flinders University, South Australia