2019 Asia Pacific Young Leaders conference held in Jakarta
From 7-14 April 2019, Amelia Hunt, Charlie Jackson, Ollie O’Meeghan, Hugo Shale, Ben Littlejohn and I (Ayla Hall) along with Mr Littlejohn represented St Paul’s and New Zealand at the Asia Pacific Young Leaders Convention (APYLC) hosted by BINUS School Serpong in Jakarta, Indonesia.
We were joined by delegates from China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Taiwan, Indonesia and Singapore. The convention opened with an opening ceremony and each country presented an introduction to ourselves, our school and our country. The theme of Embracing Unity, Valuing Diversity was introduced to the convention and we learned we would apply contrast as our learning mechanism.
We were split into groups of approximately one delegate from each country. Each group was assigned a topic of a sensitive issue that Indonesia is currently facing. For the following days we would study, share and explore the topics of education, economy, human rights, urban planning, environment and technology; making contrasts within Jakarta and Indonesia and with our home countries. Each group had different excursions led by various local organisations ranging from schools of different social-economic levels, visiting landfills, refugee centres and house building sites. Student’s eyes were opened by the poverty and a system that cannot provide the basics of an education for every child. Students were able to teach a little English, help children with projects and spend some time building homes for example. The experience was heart wrenching and I felt very privileged; so very privileged; by the opportunities we have at St Paul’s and in general. My fellow delegates shared their different experience and knowledge from their countries. When I contrasted what I know of New Zealand’s education system, I felt we should be both proud and grateful for what we have.
On the third day of the convention we all bonded with a scavenger hunt in the beautiful botanical gardens. Us Kiwis were not used to the heat and we finished hot and exhausted, but having had lots of fun. After a well needed sleep, we found ourselves on the last day of the convention experience. We shared more about our countries with cultural booths. Ours of course featured such things as a buzzy bee, pineapple lumps, an All Blacks jersey, and some great posters from Tourism New Zealand, I think we did our bit to promote travel to New Zealand while we were there!
The cultural dances or skits came next and we managed to intimidate our fellow delegates with the School haka. The final part of the day, before the closing ceremony, was a presentation by each topic group. This was our chance to bring our learnings together and to reflect on four days of amazing experiences, of looking at some of the issues facing Indonesia and hearing about other countries’ issues and thinking about the different issues New Zealand faces. We were left with thoughts on how things can be different, how we can share and work together and our perspectives on the world we live in have been developed. In four days we built friendships, discovered differences and similarities and experienced multinational teamwork. It has been a huge learning curve and an experience which we will all remember. We were all challenged to keep developing our leadership skills, to think about the way we live, how we share the planet and how we can cooperate to address the contrasts we see, to become leaders for a future world that is the best it can be.
This was a really special trip and I would like say a huge thank you to Mr Littlejohn (“Mr Garth”) for accompanying us and helping us to prepare in the weeks leading up to our departure and also to Mr Lander for allowing us this unique opportunity.