Tooting horns, men having their shoes shined and flashes of colour dominating the city.
Lima is a place of festivity, passion and oh so good food. Yet behind this atmosphere, some serious discussions were taking place.
Lima hosted the 2015 World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings. Being an observer to these discussions was not only eye-opening but thought-provoking. These discussions answered many questions I had been pondering and researching over the years but frustratingly they also made me have more questions.
The week of meetings, intense discussions and power reading taught me a few things about global institutions, governments and us as individuals. Whilst I could talk (well, type) for hours these are just a few things I learnt during my time in Peru.
Nothing is straightforward
As individuals and communities, it is sometimes easy to make judgements about what institutions and governments should be doing. Hypothesising and arguing where ‘our’ money should be spent and what should be the number one focus. But in reality, we do not have infinite resources, there are many parties with complex interests. Whilst I am not defending politicians or institutions, many times we are too hasty to judge. If we want matters that impact us to be considered and actioned upon complaining does not provide that solution, we as a society need to be problem solvers, not problem highlighters.
Everyone started somewhere
One of the most rewarding and exhilarating parts of the meetings was having individual discussions with leaders, thinkers and problem solvers. From the financial ministers of Nigeria to the Chief Financial Officer of the World Bank these people shared their knowledge, challenges and insights. But a more important lessoned learnt from these meetings was that everyone had to start somewhere…even Christine Lagarde.
Ideology needs to be balanced with practicality
‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’. This is the number one goal of the impending Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations and endorsed by other institutions and governments. I learnt that we need these big, huge and somewhat scary goals to be set but equally we need to be able realise our capabilities as nations and communities. Ideology can sometimes over ride realistic capabilities, whilst we always need vision to achieve our goals, it is a careful line between setting ambitious goals and setting unattainable goals that frustrates parties and weakens hope.
Global Voices and QUT have provided me with an opportunity that has deeply enriched my life and hopefully widened my understanding of the world. By taking a leap of faith and taking the application opportunity I was able to represent QUT and Australia on a global stage (and have a bit of fun).
So my final thoughts are these. As university students, the most useful and powerful tool we have is our minds and networks. It is important to question the status quo but equally be able to provide realistic and well thought out solutions. As youth, if we want to live in an environmentally conscious society, a society with strong healthcare and affordable housing we need to be involved in the action. Now I know what I am saying has been said before and it may (okay does) sound cheesy but the fact is our society is quickly changing, whether it is good or bad can be and is being debated but no longer can we be complacent or complainers.