Future Talk

The International Conference Experience - September 2013

Friday, December 05, 2014

Individual GIPS Competitor Grace Franki
The Global Status of Women was an absorbing and powerful topic for Grace Franki to research when she embarked on representing Australia and her school, Kambala, in the FPS International Finals recently.

Grace, 2012’s Individual Australian Global Issues Problem-Solving Champion, had been working on a weekly basis on the topic since the beginning of the year, honing her skills in each of the six steps of the FPS problem-solving process. She had also made herself three T-shirts with slogans representing the topic.

Our task was to research the issue, gathering many different perspectives on contentious issues on the topic. To this end, Grace developed a survey based on the Delphi method of information gathering, to canvass different perspectives on the role of women in our world and thereby build a deeper understanding of the basis for widely divergent views.

However, our reading of “Half the Sky “ by Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, really brought home the necessity of seeing women’s rights essentially as a human rights issue around the world. This book is a powerful account of amazing women who have overcome hurdles of discrimination and brutality to change their communities and the world.The University of Indiana, where the competition was held, is a beautiful campus of woodlands and limestone buildings, but it is huge and we certainly both got fit during our four days there. Lots of squirrel spotting kept us amused as we marched the miles between different venues!

The first day, there was the Swap Meet where the Australian contingent was besieged by lots of interested American students and other students from thirteen other countries. Recent entrants, Portugal, Jordan and Turkey lent a new vibrancy to the proceedings.

As we moved into the Auditorium, it was great to see such a large group of Aussies in our distinctive T-shirts. Grace had the honour of carrying the NSW flag at the Opening Ceremony that evening. Each flag bearer was required to wear a costume representative of their country or state. Grace eschewed the stereotypical outback look for lifesaver garb with zinc on the face, for which she was given a huge cheer.

The next day was the competition where all individuals and teams competed for two hours in the

Booklet competition. After that we both could relax a little and wait for the results. It was a new experience for both of us, not having to do an Action Plan Presentation.

Grace also had the opportunity to attend a Senior Students’ Forum, where she was able to network with international students who, like her, were graduating this year.The Closing Ceremony took place on Sunday June 9, when all the awards were handed out. Grace did extremely well in gaining 5th place in the individual competition and was rightly very excited. The whole Australian team achieved great results, especially in the Action Plans and the Community Problem Solving competitions.

Attending the International Conference is a wonderful experience from beginning to end. The Variety Show shines a light on the prodigious talent that exists among the attendees. A particular highlight this year was the Action Presentation of the Adult team from Portugal who presented the cycle of life – they were highly talented mime artists. The massive increase in participation from Portugal shows what can happen when a good idea takes hold: from a small team last year to a contingent of about sixty this year.

Margaret Witts, Coach

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