A Global Classroom

There are some things you can’t learn from within the four walls of a classroom. Although university life is traditionally textbooks and lectures, a program launched last April is taking students all over the world and teaching them some real-world lessons.

“An experience that is hard to describe. Meeting lifelong friends from over 27 nations. Hearing talks from inspirational speakers who are leaders in their own field. Flying kites with local orphans who’ve been through more than many of us have been. One week, so many amazing moments.”

Chris Jones is one of more than 1000 students who are currently engaged with the Beyond UTS International Leadership Development program (BUiLD). As part of the program, Jones travelled to Malaysia in August to attend the Global Youth Symposium which was aimed at highlighting humanitarian issues and connecting future leaders. This was an incredible opportunity for aspiring entrepreneur Jones, “[it sparked] new ideas for me that I could bring back and implement in many programs that I am a part of in Australia, and hopefully in the near future, around the world.”

BUiLD is fostering the next generation of leaders who are both globally and socially aware by giving students the opportunity to develop skills, forge global connections, learn to lead as well as enhancing their job prospects. Highly flexible, BUiLD is designed to fit in with the study, work, family and social commitments of students, according to UTS Leadership Programs Coordinator Fiona Tschaut.

Students who participate in BUiLD programs might volunteer with children in Nepal, complete a film and media internship in Bollywood, join the World Model United Nations, complete leadership studies in the Czech Republic or undertake conflict and peace studies in Costa Rica. Tschaut says one thing that distinguishes the BUiLD program from other leadership programs is that it’s not elitist.

“This program has been specifically designed to give all students the opportunity to grow, develop skills and learn about leadership. By the end of the year 1500 UTS students will be involved.”

The BUiLD student body is also highly diverse. International students make up 22% of the community and 38 different nationalities are represented – making it a celebration of culture and a cross-cultural integration.

This year, a group of eight students found themselves in one of the poorest slums in Mumbai, learning about micro-finance and experiencing the real face of poverty. MBA student Nathan Wiltshire says the experience blew him away.

“To see and empathise with these people is something I will never forget. It is certainly not something that could ever be taught in a classroom. I am truly grateful for this experience as I have not only learned an incredible amount about business in India, but also about myself.”

Wiltshire says BUiLD has a wide range of events that cover almost every conceivable interest in the fields of politics, world events, human rights, economic development, creative arts and more. “Just pick and choose which ones interest you.”

About 50 core activities are organised each semester and in June, BUiLD will be sending ten students to attend the Gadjah Mada University’s DREaM program in social entrepreneurship in Indonesia. As part of this trip, students will attend lectures by international experts on best practices in running social ventures and undertake community work in the local area.

If you would like to be involved in developing the BUiLD program further, please contact Fiona Tschaut Fiona.Tschaut@uts.edu.au

Words: Paolo Hooke