Asia Pacific Week 2023: CAP students lead inspiring and successful event

Asia Pacific Week delegates, panellists and organising committee members standing in front of trees for a group photo
Asia Pacific Week delegates, panellists and organising committee members

ANU College of Asia and the Pacific (CAP) students helped bring together delegates from all over the world to participate in a rewarding week of panels and workshops focussing on the region.

Now in its thirteenth year, the Australian National University’s Asia Pacific Week (APW) is an interdisciplinary conference, which brings together high-calibre students and young professionals from around the world. Through a week of thought-provoking panels, debates, and workshops, as well as a vibrant social schedule, individuals from all across the world develop their knowledge, skills and empathy to become compassionate leaders of change in dynamic Asian and Pacific regions.

Students from CAP, along with their peers from across ANU, successfully organised and facilitated Asia Pacific Week 2023; a unique conference and student experience designed to empower delegates in their personal, academic and professional journeys. College discipline experts on the Asian and Pacific region, such as Professor Evelyn Goh, Dr George Carter, Professor Edward Aspinall, among others, presented their knowledge and insights to students, who travelled to Canberra and stayed in accommodation near the campus.

“I feel the warm hospitality from the Australian National University,” said Saadman Faisal. Currently on his summer break, Saadman travelled to Australia as a student delegate from his home country Bangladesh to attend the conference, after a friend, who previously studied at CAP recommended it.

“If you really want to know about the issues the Asian and Pacific regions face, and want to network with wonderful friendly people, I highly recommend this opportunity.”

In addition to a core contingent of around 20 delegates from ANU, many interstate students flew from Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Queensland. The international cohort was similarly strong, with delegates in attendance hailing from Solomon Islands, Fiji, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines and the UK.

“Through networking, I learned great study tips from other students that really helped me,” said Chris Paul, who is in the initial stages of undertaking a PhD at the University of South Pacific in Fiji.

The Asia Pacific Week (APW) 2023 theme, ‘First Light: Emerging Opportunities and New Beginnings’, encompassed eight compelling panels on subjects such as security, development, decolonisation, the devastating effects of climate change on the region and women leaders in diplomacy.

The Women in Diplomacy APW Panel with Ambassador of Thailand to Australia Arjaree Sriratanaban.
The Women in Diplomacy APW Panel with Ambassador of Thailand to Australia Arjaree Sriratanaban.

The latter involved a high-profile guest: the Ambassador of Thailand to Australia, Her Excellency Arjaree Sriratanaban, who joined the Asia Pacific Week delegates and panellists to discuss female representation in diplomacy in Thailand. She described her own experience as a student attending a similar panel for alumni to inform undergraduates about their future options. She said it inspired her to know that “diplomacy was a decent option to pursue.”

In the lead up to the event, students on the Asia Pacific Week Committee spent several busy months dealing with the complicated challenges that come with managing logistics: planning the content of the panels, organising speakers to participate, and coordinating accommodation and transport for the delegates.

The organising committee can receive credit toward their degree, acknowledging the time and skill development this ‘outside of classroom’ opportunity requires.

“I learned to adapt to a rapidly changing environment,” said Freya Sander, one of the committee’s content coordinators and Bachelor of International Security Studies student at the College. “We have had to deal with a few crises, like panellists dropping out and having to completely reimagine panels. There is not really a classroom equivalent to having to change something that is not working in a high-stakes situation.”

For CAP students, working on the Asia Pacific Week Committee provided excellent experience and skills that correlate into their future career paths.

“I’m interested in working as an Australian overseas, building connections with the Pacific in policy and development. Diplomacy is something I’m really interested in,” said Freya.

For prospective students hoping to undertake the rewarding project, the 2023 committee members recommend studying a degree at the College.

“CAP is a very future proof college. It is integrative-minded, focusing on the region and providing the opportunity to deep dive into it. It is ideal for anyone who wants to broaden their horizons beyond Australia, and be a part of a community that shares the same interest,” said Seungbin Kang, one of the committee’s delegates coordinators and a 2nd year Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) student at CAP.

Overall, the event was a huge success and left the students feeling exhausted but fulfilled.

“It’s been a wonderful event. It has made me so happy to see all the delegates so engaged and enthusiastic. And everyone in the committee worked together so well to make it so successful,” said CAP student Eliza Wilson, a content coordinator on the APW Committee.

The College would like to congratulate and thank the committee, attendees and guests on a successful APW 2023. The friendships, knowledge and skills gained this week can truly help you become empathetic, strong, and educated leaders of the future.

Freya Sander, one of the committee’s content coordinators and a CAP student studying the Bachelor of International Security Studies.

Freya Sander, one of the committee’s content coordinators and a CAP student studying the Bachelor of International Security Studies.

Freya Sander, one of the committee’s content coordinators and a CAP student studying the Bachelor of International Security Studies.
Seungbin Kang, one of the committee’s delegates coordinators and a 2nd year Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) student at CAP.

Seungbin Kang, one of the committee’s delegates coordinators and a 2nd year Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) student at CAP.

Seungbin Kang, one of the committee’s delegates coordinators and a 2nd year Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) student at CAP.
CAP student Eliza Wilson, a content coordinator on the APW Committee.

CAP student Eliza Wilson, a content coordinator on the APW Committee.

CAP student Eliza Wilson, a content coordinator on the APW Committee.
Delegates, panellists and committee members of Asia Pacific Week

Delegates, panellists and committee members of Asia Pacific Week

Delegates, panellists and committee members of Asia Pacific Week
Asia Pacific Week Committee Director Saskia O'George giving a commencement speech at the opening ceremony

Asia Pacific Week Committee Director Saskia O'George giving a commencement speech at the opening ceremony

Asia Pacific Week Committee Director Saskia O'George giving a commencement speech at the opening ceremony
Asia Pacific Week members gathering outside

Asia Pacific Week members gathering for the opening ceremony.

Asia Pacific Week members gathering for the opening ceremony.