Student looks beyond the borders
Imagine: more than 600 of the world's brightest young minds, exchanging ideas with global experts from six continents.
It's an idealist's dream - and one that came true for University of Adelaide student Linty McDonald earlier this year.
The 22-year-old Health and Social Sciences final-year student spent a week in Abu Dhabi in late February as the sole South Australian participant in the biennial Education Without Borders conference.
The international student conference is held every two years in different locations to discuss solutions to some of the world's most pressing social challenges.
Students, representatives from the humanitarian sector and leaders of business, technology and education participate in a collaborative forum that culminates with a commitment to action.
Hosted by the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi this year, the conference featured workshops, presentations and debates involving speakers from more than 20 countries.
2006 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nicholas Negroponte, the innovator behind the non-profit project "One Laptop Per Child", and United Nations diplomat Dr Shashi Tharoor were among the guest speakers.
"It was so inspiring to experience this collaboration of cultures," Linty said. "I met some amazing people who are committed to social justice and ridding the world of poverty.
"The conference brought home to me the responsibility that our generation holds for an equitable future for all. We need to ensure basic human rights, sustainable housing, health, education, water and food for everybody," she said.
Topics covered included inequitable access to education and technology, responding to natural disasters and how universities are responding to globalisation.
"The conference has redefined my perspectives in relation to my studies and the developing world. I realise now the privilege of education and the importance of both practical experience and academic accuracy to facilitate the alleviation of poverty," she said.
Linty has since become a volunteer with Multicultural Youth South Australia, which provides a variety of services for migrant and refugee young people in Adelaide.
She intends to pursue a career in the international health and social welfare field when she graduates at the end of this year.
Story by Candy Gibson