2019 OECD Forum: Erin Gear
Recently returning from Paris, Bachelor of Arts graduate and Global Voices Research Fellowship recipient Erin Gear reflects on her experience as the only South Australian youth delegate to the 2019 OECD Forum.
Graduating from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Arts in 2018, Erin was unsure which career she wanted to pursue, but a persistent interest in global issues attracted her to international relations.
“The versatility and flexibility that the Bachelor of Arts allowed during my studies meant I was exposed to some fantastic global learning opportunities.
“Whether it would be humanitarian aid, global politics or simply working overseas to experience and learn about a new culture, I knew I wanted to work in international relations,” she said.
In May this year, Erin travelled to Paris to represent Australia as the only South Australian youth delegate to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Forum.
She was first exposed to the OECD, a multilateral body which is responsible for creating and defining international policy standards for social and economic progress, during the first year of her degree.
“I was first introduced to the OECD as an undergraduate in Dr Benito Cao’s first year course Global Politics. Benito’s knowledge and enthusiasm for international relations and fostering a better world really struck a chord with me,” Erin said.
Upon graduating, this passion for the area endured and saw Erin seek out Global Voices, a not-for-profit organisation that provides Australia’s future leaders with practical experience on the global stage of foreign policy.
She was subsequently awarded a Global Voices Research Fellowship to attend the OECD Forum in Paris and develop a domestic policy proposal that draws on the Forum’s themes.
“My time in Paris has been unlike anything I could have imagined as a recent graduate. Being able to engage with international experts at discussion panels on topics including the role, misuse and effect of social media; the need for deliberative democracy; and the inclusion of men in the gender equality movement has developed my confidence and aptitude for participating in international affairs,” she said.
Erin counts interacting and sharing her ideas with the likes of OECD Director for Global Relations Andreas Schaal; the Deputy-Permanent Representative, Australian Delegate to the OECD, Simon Cramp; and Australian Ambassador to France Brendan Berne as some of her most professionally and personally enriching moments to date.
“Meeting Brendan Berne at his home at the Australian Embassy overlooking the Eiffel Tower was a particular highlight that I feel privileged to have had.
Overall, Erin admits the experience was challenging, rigorous and intellectually demanding but credits her time at the University of Adelaide for preparing her for the robust internationally-focused nature of her studies.
Looking forward, Erin hopes to continue on a career trajectory in the international or social progress space.
“This time next year I hope to be working in the public sector, furthering Australia’s foreign diplomacy and international relations, or working to ensure the strength of Australian democracy as one of inclusivity.”