Bringing the passion of the South Pacific to Canberra
It’s breakfast, Saturday morning at the Forum. Delegates are slowly waking up, caffeine is flowing, conversation is trivial at best. Some are in a daze looking inattentively around the room, facilitators are looking for their remaining slumbering delegates. Some are even expressing their distaste at those few overtly energetic delegates who have already been on a 5km jog around Lake Burley Griffin. But the room goes silent. Only the faint chinking of knifes and forks can be heard. Suddenly, a glorious harmony rings out across the Hyatt ballroom. A group of Pacific Islander delegates come striding in, singing passionately and beautifully. Their tones fill the room and captivate every person in it. They then proceed to dance exuberantly, urging the now very much awake delegates to join. As this was occurring, they introduced themselves as being from a plethora of island nations; Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Papua New Guinea to name a few. It was a beautiful demonstration of culture that resonated with the room, an intern even forming a tear in his eye.
The mandate is simple. NSLF strives to invest in the young leaders of tomorrow. This happens through getting them to participate in a discourse which emphasises faith and values as the true foundation of what servant leadership looks like. But this investment is not limited to Australia. It is a message that we want to be taken around the world.
As the world globalizes, being able to recognise and learn from other cultures has not only become easier, but incredibly more important. For progress to occur, we need leaders to be equipped from all walks of life in all nations. Leaders that are servants, humble and vulnerable. That is why NSLF has for many years, wanted to serve our brothers and sisters in the Pacific and include them in our conversation.
But in so many ways, the benefit is flipped. A conversation about faith and values cannot occur without being exposed to, and challenged by others. We gain so much from seeing and experiencing the rich culture and perspectives that our friends from across the pond bring. They hold dear values such as family, community, generosity and love. This is entrenched by the solid faith many of them have.
As the students, government employees, community leaders and young professionals were singing and dancing around on that stage (not the only time during the Forum either), it was clear that they were passionate about their country and passionate being islanders. But more than this, they were passionate about being human, being apart of something bigger, being alive. Many of them had come a long way at great expense, determined to be a force for change in their communities, but in many ways, they were a force for change in ours.
by Alex Wall 2017 Intern & Delegate Coordinator