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The University Scholars Leadership Symposium (USLS) is a place where our future leaders will learn more on the leadership in social change. It acts as an international platform in which the world’s most promising young scholars acquire out-of-classroom contemporary leadership skills. The delegates are nominated by their respective Universities and act as ambassadors to this annual gathering of emerging leaders. The following reflections from delegates of the University Scholars Leadership Symposium show that young leaders attend the conference, and leave it confident that, “no matter who they are and where they come from,” their dreams of making a difference albeit small, and changing lives are valid.

Here in their own words, the delegates of the University Scholars Leadership Symposium reflected on their own life changing experiences at the Symposium.

Before attending the USLS, I considered myself well- educated about contemporary humanitarian issues. I helped my school raise money and awareness for refugees, cancer research and children’s charities. I applied for the 4th USLS in Manila, Philippines, because I thought that it would be a good opportunity to learn new ways of making a positive change to the world and to connect with my parents’ home country. Was it what I was hoping for and looking forward to? Yes, the USLS experience surpassed my expectations. We had lectures from world-renowned humanitarian leaders who showed me that change often starts from something as simple as making a connection with others. Nevertheless, for me, the other delegates are the ones that made a greater impression. At the symposium, there were 700 college students from 45 countries around the world and leaders in their own right. I still keep in touch with them, and let me tell you, I am still amazed by them and what they do.

This experience has also made me, an engineering major, realize the importance of knowledge and language in connecting society. I remember this one moment when I asked, in bad Filipino, some kids of the community we were building houses for, if they knew the steps to the Gwiyomi Song, a Korean track that my cousins told me was popular at the time. To my surprise and delight of other Korean students I met, they performed it for us. That was just one of my many memories of discovering the connections that already exist. The things I learnt at the USLS filled me with confidence in my abilities and a sense of optimism for the world that I still feel today. The internet has made much of this knowledge easily accessible, but there are some things that I cannot help you understand unless you go and experience it for yourself-the USLS is the right place to experience the foregoing.
Alex Malubag
University of Sydney, Australia
The University Scholars Leadership Symposium was an inspirational engine that made me realize that I have the potential to do more and I can aim for bigger goals in life. I am the only one who can play my cards the best. I have realized that I do not have to be a CEO, politician, president or a millionaire in order to effect change; I simply have to be myself. It is the only way that I can contribute to and improve the quality of life through simple actions such as selflessness. This one-week learning has been an eye and heart opener. It acted as a platform for privileged young people with high-quality education to gather for a common humanitarian goal and put their minds towards a supreme cause to save this world in need. Every learning experience touched upon a different aspect and gave a real simulation of the problems that surround us. The foregoing inspired us to stop being passive and act; all of us in attendance stopped being observers, became participants, and embraced the concept of ‘we’ as opposed to “me”.

I have learnt that the recipe for success in life is to find your passion and fight for it. We need to have a goal towards what we strive to achieve. We should be consistent and not afraid to embrace change and disappointments, and start all over again. We need to learn to accept failure because it is the only way to appreciate the hard-earned accomplishment at the end of the journey. In this rushing world, we need to take time to do the small things the right way, be patient with the results, and slow down when necessary. We have learnt from world leaders that leadership has nothing to do with money and power; instead, it is all about how wisely use your position and power to help those in needs and give back to society. If I have to summarize the whole experience within one phrase, I would say, “Achieve complete goodness!”
Alexandra Crisan
University of Groningen,The Netherlands
I remember embarking on this 16- hour journey from the United States to Hong Kong and being too jittery to sleep. There was a mixture of excitement and anxiety, a pervasive uncertainty for the future. You see, I have attended many conferences in the last ten years, so I was not sure how this one was going to affect me. How will this one be any different? Can I really expect to grow or change in a substantial way? I was soon to learn that my image of the world would be torn apart. Perhaps, the most valuable lesson I learnt in the USLS was that, “circumstance is a powerful force, one that can define an individual regardless of his or her will to succeed.” I finally realized how selfish one person can be when viewing life from a global perspective. Moreover, it would have been foolish to assume that I would make these realizations on my own. To this day, I remember the story about a little boy named Ian and about his disregard for the impossible. If only the rest of the world could view life the way Ian Daulu does, it could be far more feasible to work toward the betterment of the world. USLS was a life-changing experience because it showed me something that I cannot ignore or repress. I find myself thinking about my friends around the world every day, and about how they are redefining their circumstances.
Amanda Cacapava
Florida Atlantic University, United Sates of America
Typing this now, reliving the USLS, I am feeling pumped! Rehashing the memories, the stories, and the passion embodied in each of those five days in August. There was beauty in our diversity and in our idealistic young minds that worked together to inspire and empower each other. The ferocious energy the room contained was an actual out-of-this-world experience that I fear I will never get to feel again. Never before had I felt so powerful as a single person as I did at the USLS, so imagine 873 others in the same capacity – we were a force to be reckoned with! I study Forensic Science, which sounds odd in the context of humanitarian affairs, but my heart lies with (living) people. I did not know what to expect going into the symposium; to be honest, it all seemed rather overwhelming and I questioned my worthiness to be taking up a seat. However, my fears quickly fell to the wayside when the Humanitarian Affairs team greeted me on the registration morning - everyone was so incredibly friendly and welcoming. I felt like I was home even though ‘home’ was 6050km away! I was on cloud nine throughout the opening ceremony to the closing ceremony!

The USLS taught me more than what was just outlined in the program. It taught me the power of a crowd as it taught me the power of one. At times, I felt utterly tiny in the enormity of our world and skeptical that any real change can be made in my lifetime. But for every one of those moments, there were one hundred more moments where I felt we are an unstoppable force that are just readying ourselves at the start line. It was a privilege and an honor to be a delegate at the USLS in Hong Kong, and I am sure, now more than ever, we are going to be the cause for positive change. We can all make an impact, whether in our own communities or in other communities across the world.
Amy Benjamin
Edith Cowan University, Western Australia
A leadership-training symposium geared towards helping the community that would be attended by 873 delegates from 57 different nationalities - that was all I knew about what I was getting myself into when I boarded the plane to Hong Kong. Little did I know that I had signed up for so much more than I expected. Music and vibrant sights welcomed my fellow delegates and me into the symposium. I spent all my time at the symposium getting awed, inspired, and touched by the amazing speakers. The speakers ranged from marathon runners, to jump starters of charities, musicians, and advocates for social change. Each told their life stories, and spoke of the calling they had to turn to those in need and selflessly lay down their own lives to spread their light to those in need of it, and create a happier and brighter world for those whose worlds seemed gloomy. The talks I heard and the learning journey I attended (Intellectually Disabled) made me realize how fortunate I am to be living the comfortable life. Ironically, I also began to appreciate the problems I experience, because I know that other people have far bigger problems than mine. When I worry about what to eat between pizza, chicken, and burger, somebody out there does not know where to find food for starving children.

Moreover, I was struck by a deep longing to reach out more and change lives albeit in a small way. It is one thing to acknowledge that there are people that are in need, but what make a difference are the steps you take to change those people’s lives. I felt inspired to participate more in dental checkup missions back in the Philippines. I came to understand that, as a dental student, I have an important task to fulfill because I deal with oral health - a commonly overlooked prerequisite to a good and healthy lifestyle. I highly recommend other university students to attend USLS. This symposium was unique because it focuses on the perfection of your leadership abilities as you initiate and volunteer in creating social change. The University Scholars Leadership Symposium was travel, fun, new friends, networking, food, sightseeing, and inspiration all compressed in a weeklong adventure.

Truly, I was enriched, educated, and enlightened.
Ana Beatriz F. Robles
Centro Escolar University, Philippines
The University Scholars Leadership Symposium was an eye-opening experience. With over 700 young scholars together for 7 days in Phnom Penh, each day impressed. The itinerary was structured and organised; there was an abundance of delicious food, we were escorted by the Cambodian Police to and from venues and being amongst hundreds of people seeking to improve themselves as leaders was beautifully overwhelming. The speakers that were chosen were inspiring and filled me with courage to implement change in my local community. Each had their story to tell; in particular Geraldine Cox resonated with me. She made me realise that materialism does not equate to happiness, and that being self-content does not have a price tag and I will forever value that.

Working with the children at the Sunrise Village made me proud to have been part of those children’s lives, even for a day. Each child had a beautiful smile and generosity, despite still living in the aftermath of the pol pot regime. It was heart-warming to see each person living to the fullest in their circumstances, with such an optimistic attitude for their future. During the Symposium I actively realised how privileged my life is in Australia, and to respect the education that I am receiving, rather than taking it for granted. At the USLS, I discovered things about myself that I did not think existed. It truly allowed me to walk in another pair of shoes, and to understand the world through a different light. The experience filled me with compassion to implement change in my community. Since being involved with the University Scholars Leadership Symposium I became the President of the University of Newcastle Law Students’ Association and Sponsorship Officer for the Australian Law Students’ Association. Do not hesitate, even for a moment about applying for the Symposium. You will never know what you will discover, unless you try; so, grab the opportunity.
Andreena Kardamis
University of Newcastle, Australia
The experience surpassed my expectations because it was just out of this world! The USLS in Hong Kong was beyond my wildest imagination. When the orchestra started to play at the opening ceremony, I was very proud to be a Chinese, studying and representing Australia, along with other 873 delegates from around the world. However, it was more than just cultural diversity. My most valuable lesson from the USLS was the power of passion and education, which can transform the world by mere listening, taking one more step into others’ lives, and making one small difference in people’s lives. I was lucky to participate in the Refugee Run program, which later proved to be a life-changing experience for me. Since then, I am much more concerned about refugee issues, especially about the “soil” of creating refugees. Moreover, I am 100% ready to grab any opportunity to help on any humanitarian issues. Thank You, “Humanitarian Affairs” for establishing such a life-changing USLS and I am looking forward to attending another symposium someday!
Angela Li
University of Newcastle, Australia
I was given a fantastic opportunity to host the closing ceremony but had no idea on what role I would play until the morning of the event. Since I was used to rehearsing beforehand, I became so nervous and I did not eat a single thing the entire day; all I kept thinking of was, “what if I don’t play my role perfectly?” However, the experience taught me to think on my feet, be calm, elicit confidence from within myself, and live in the moment. It was a great honour to be offered such a chance; I showed the world my great leadership competencies. Interacting with so many other like-minded young people from 57 countries that were all driven by the desire to make a difference was incredibly inspiring. In my day-to-day life, the young people around me seem apathetic and unmotivated; all they seem to think of is what party to attend next and so forth. Consequently, meeting other like-minded young people that care about our world gave me hope for the future. That surreal atmosphere has encouraged me to take a more active role fighting for the things I believe in. I will try to take just a little of the passion that was so pervasive through the symposium and inject it into every day.

Going forward, I am excited to continue volunteering with Humanitarian Affairs and I cannot wait for the next year’s USLS.
Anita Wu
University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Often, I believe that people say they cannot do something, because they are too afraid to step out of the secluded bubble that they live in. Fear prevents us from growing, as individuals, and from ever truly managing to understand the world around us. When I first heard about the USLS, I was hesitant to apply – missing a week of my university semester, travelling to a foreign country where I would know absolutely no one and learning once again how I am but one small droplet of water in an entire ocean? How could my attendance possibly make a difference to the world? However – a fear of living with the regret of never knowing what it would’ve been like motivated me to apply – and I was ecstatic to be accepted.

We are all but droplets of water that create ripples in the ocean. The Symposium made me realise that it is not a matter of ‘How can I change the world?’, but rather, ‘When can I start changing the world?’ We cannot solely make the difference, but we can help to lead the momentum. We have the ability to inspire those around us back in our homes, to achieve all they are capable of, and we can lead the social movement for global change, from our own countries. USLS, has taught me that if a group of like-minded people, work together to create an impact – nothing will be impossible.

The Symposium presented me with the opportunity to question and change my own personal beliefs on a number of topics. I was encouraged to look at global issues from a completely different perspective – and that made all the difference! The education and experience I received truly impacted my life, and I will never stop being grateful for that. I encourage all people who want to open their minds, and learn something new to apply for the Symposium. It is not a case of ‘I cannot change the world,’ it is merely a case of ‘I have not yet had the opportunity,’ and I think that is a truly special way to live your life.
Ashleigh Kotula
The University of Western Australia
Though I am from the Mexico, I represented National Taiwan University to attend the University Scholars Leadership Symposium; as I believe we as the future leaders of the world should take the opportunity to improve our well-being. My decision to participate at the USLS was certainly the right ones as the symposium has changed my perspective of how I should live my life. Not only that, I have the opportunity to interact with diverse groups of people from all corners of the world.

I have learned to value my culture and show the world, how amazing the Mexican culture is. I have heard amazing speeches that have helped me to strengthen my dreams; the inspiring stories and life lessons have taught me that nothing is impossible and that my dreams are valid no matter where I come from.

The most valuable lesson, which I learnt at the USLS is that the small actions we do in each day can created an impact in this world. If we take one-step at a time, we can make a big difference. I thank all those that have shown me that the life does not only have one path that everyone needs to follow, life has different ways to live, so one should live the life that you will make them meaningful on earth.
Belen Martínez Soto
National Taiwan University
I was truly humbled to attend the University Scholars Leadership Symposium. Being surrounded by 700 like-minded individuals from diverse cultures that are gathered in one place to discuss important world issues is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you do not want to miss. The incredible speakers and their life journeys as well as the participants that I met at the symposium challenged and inspired me each day. The high spot for me was the opportunity to spend an entire day building houses in a local village in the Philippines. There was scorching heat in the morning and heavy rain in the afternoon; however, without doubt, the changing weather did not dampen our high spirits of rebuilding lives for the communities in need. In the evening, the villagers living in the community welcomed us into their homes. They appreciated our efforts albeit small since the new homes we built would be home to many members in need. I appreciate the fact that USLS gives young scholars a practical life experience; it acts as a platform for them to contribute in small ways and make a difference in other people’s lives. The USLS gave me an unforgettable experience; I met new people and made many friends from all over the world. The USLS experience inspired me by giving me the opportunity to make a difference and learn new things in a fun way.
Bree Dobing
University of Western Sydney, Australia
I was oblivious of what awaited me at the Symposium. However, the USLS experience will always be etched in my memories igniting a flame that will forever burn bright to make the world a better place. I could see and feel the excitement when I walked into the auditorium’s electrifying atmosphere with my heart pounding almost ready to burst at the sight of seeing the world coming together as ONE for a humanitarian cause. Encouraged to keep our dreams as big as the moon and stay motivated throughout each downfall , our prejudice was washed out and hung up to dry with a completely different perspective of the world by the spirited speakers who brought snapshots of their lives to share. Our values challenged and changed, instilling a sense of belonging and responsibility to the global community. Reminiscing on the moments during the last day of the symposium chanting “We are the world” still makes me nostalgic. The words will always ring in my head, “We must stand together hand in hand forever. That's when we all win.” The symposium has definitely strengthened my resolve that, “whatever small our contributions, it will still make a difference.
Chandra Chuda Parameswara
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
USLS is definitely a place for future leaders to learn, experience, and understand the plight of the less fortunate people in this world. The USLS is certainly an international symposium where you can network with the world in one place. I really enjoyed meeting so many young scholars from across the world. From sharing a meal to sharing of opinions; I have acquired essential skills and gained much knowledge during this one week. Apart from the foregoing, all the speakers are extremely good in motivating the delegates to step out of their comfort zone and take baby steps to reach their set goals in life. My favorite speaker was Dr. Rosanna Wong; her passion and motivation made me realize the importance of serving others, being courageous and not letting money get in the way of my happiness. Without doubt, her words of wisdom have left a deep impression on me. Now, I believe in doing good deeds, making a difference in others’ lives, and giving back to the community.

I had the privilege to learn more about domestic violence and the abuses suffered by the victims during the learning journey program at the symposium. Having talked and interacted with the victims, I realized that violence and abuse can happen to anyone. Now, I know where to seek help or refer the victims of violence and abuse. We should stop violence of any kind in our society, especially violence against the women. I would like to thank Humanitarian Affairs for providing me with such a wonderful experience. This is an unforgettable experience for me and I am so thankful for the once in a lifetime opportunity to participate at the University Scholars Leadership Symposium.
Chanoknat Lapprasoet
Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University, Thailand
When I closed my eye and recollected my memories of the USLS, I remembered feeling two things: Heart beating fast and hands getting a little colder. These are the signs I experienced when I bring myself away from my comfort zone. And this was exactly how I felt during the USLS, when I listen attentively to the humanitarian speakers describing about the suffering of the voiceless in our society. In USLS, you will learn from the great speakers that make you questions many things you used to believe and also give you answers to those questions you have always had.

You will make a lot of friends from diverse background and culture but one that share similar concern which is to build a brighter future for our generations. In our conversations with fellow delegates, we will talk more about our volunteering experiences and shared our best practices; which we don’t normally do so with our friends.

You will learn first- hand the life of the less fortunate communities and understand the challenges they faced in their daily lives. More importantly, after USLS, you will become a different person. You will feel uneasy living day by day, conforming to the routine life. You will have the urge to get involved and make good changes to the world. This is because, USLS will empower you to realize that you are not just somebody, you are you and that’s enough to become a change maker and make the world a better place.

So what are you waiting for ?
Chompunuch Chachchaval
Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
When I first arrived at the Symposium, I had the privilege of meeting the Secretary-General of Humanitarian Affairs UK, Mr. Kim Solomon. He said to me that people return to the symposium repeatedly because they want to recharge. I remember thinking at that moment that he was a little crazy because every conference I had attended, left me drained and exhausted from networking and listening to speakers all day, so, how could it be a recharging’ experience? However, it did not take me long to realize that he was completely right. The USLS is different, it is not a draining experience, in fact, it is the complete opposite. Every day spent at the symposium was special. The symposium provided a platform for positive people from all around the world to meet and the energy this created is contagious.

I left the symposium feeling positive, motivated and with an urgent need to make the world a better place. I was given the opportunity to be a Group Leader on one of the Learning Journeys and this is an experience I will never forget. This experience taught me that positive change starts from within, and the speakers motivated me to be a change maker. I will make small changes and I know now that the changes I make albeit small, will add up to something big. It is a great feeling to know that my small changes, together with the other delegates’ small changes, will have ripple effects all over the globe and I am sure, together, everyone who attended the USLS will make the world a better place. This is the change the world needs. The compassion for society that USLS instills inside of you is something money cannot buy. It is not often that you get to feel like that in our fast- paced world and I am so grateful to have attended the Symposium and to have had the opportunity to experience those feelings and I really look forward to attending again in the future.
Clare Johansson
Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia
Without a doubt, attending the University Scholars Leadership Symposium has been the most enlightening and rewarding experience of my time at university. Prior to attending the symposium, I had heard from previous delegates from my University, how amazing and life changing their experiences had been in both the past Symposiums held in the Philippines and Cambodia. Therefore, before going to the symposium, I had very high expectations – I certainly was not disappointed. Although I had high expectations, I could not have predicted that I would learn so much and be so motivated to make a change in the world as I was by the many remarkable speakers at the Symposium. In some of the sessions, I was moved to tears by the stories of hardship being experienced by the less fortunate in the world – these stories gave me a fresh perspective of all the privileges I have been afforded in life and have inspired me to do more in future humanitarian projects. Unlike most conferences that I have attended in the past, the USLS encouraged delegates to make actual changes in the world, rather than merely providing information on changes that need to be made. I think that saying the USLS was a life changing experience is a statement true not only for myself, but also for all of the incredible delegates that I had the pleasure of sharing this experience with.
Coral Yopp
University of Western Sydney, Australia
I have always had a passion and interest in improving the lives of others and the natural environment. This passion drove my decision to study environmental engineering at the University of Newcastle, and more recently, my decision to become very actively involved in the political process vying during elections, and ultimately being elected, as a local government councilor for the City of Newcastle Council, Australia. I was fortunate to attend USLS with the support of my University, and found the Symposium to be a phenomenal experience. The sheer volume of passionate young people (873) from 57 different countries provided a solid foundation for international networking with like-minded young people, and for the establishment of what will become lifelong friendships. The number and variety of speakers and activities ensured that there was constantly something engaging and interesting occurring for the duration of the Symposium. With presentations from an Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, senior government ministers from around the world, esteemed businesspeople and humanitarian leaders; there is no doubt about the value the Symposium provided. Since leaving Hong Kong, I have remained in close daily contact with a number of USLS delegates from around the world, and we have continued to work together, sharing our dreams and interests, and shaping the future. Thank you, Humanitarian Affairs for your work in coordinating such an impressive international event.
Declan Clausen
University of Newcastle, Australia
I am so thankful for having the opportunity to be part of the University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Hong Kong. I would never have thought that in only one week, I could make so many friendships that I will cherish for the rest of my life, or be so inspired to follow my dreams of pursuing Humanitarian Affairs. Over the week, we had a range of speakers that were both informative and motivational. Challenging us to look inside ourselves and discover our passions, skills and goals for the future. I walked out of each session with a little fire inside, determined to get out there into the community and start creating positive change. The day we spent on our learning journey was also an amazing experience. I felt honored to be part of the group that spent the entire day at a local refuge centre with a group of inspirational and powerful women who had been the victims of domestic abuse at the hands of their employers. Their experiences have taught me to be always thankful for my comfortable life, never take my family for granted, and never give up no matter how helpless the situation may seem. My week in Hong Kong for the USL Symposium truly changed my life. I no longer feel powerless in this vast world and am now determined to not only continue educating myself on humanitarian issues but also empower others to discover their passions and take the plunge.
Ellen Turner
La Trobe University, Australia
Prior to the USLS, I have attended numerous conferences for young scholars, however, I have this symposium provided me with a unique experience; it was a very different feeling. Without doubt, the USLS offered me the opportunity to transpose myself into another dimension based on a multi-cultural platform. It helped me to advance my global thinking and leadership skills. It was an eye-opener on the issue of inter-cultural competency; it provided me with an insight on global awareness and what working within a cross-cultural environment entails. The most important lesson that this experience taught me is the fact that, one’s journey is much more important than his/her final destination; moreover, actions, in particular helping less fortunate communities, speak much louder than words.

Given the chance to travel back in time, I would definitely go back to relive the significant moments at the USLS. However, since the symposium equipped me with the necessary knowledge and skills to be a future generation leader, I plan to look forward and take advantage of each moment in my life. Consequently, I will try to make the most of this memorable experience by applying all the lessons acquired from this incredible Symposium in my daily life experiences. Without doubt, I left the symposium a very different person that knows how to motivate myself, raise my self-confidence and believe in this life-journey. Words cannot be enough to thank you “Humanitarian Affairs” for giving the unique opportunity to share this precious moments with other 873 brilliant young minds from 57 countries filled with diverse cultures and backgrounds.
Emilia Eliza Ilie
Coventry University, United Kingdom
I would like to thank Humanitarian Affairs for holding such a meaningful symposium. It did inspire, enrich, and enlighten my life. I used to deem myself so tiny and average, I am not the kind of girl that is always confident enough to tell people her plans or even pursue her dreams. I was afraid that I was not good enough to talk to others, establish relationships with people, until I met Kim Solomon, Secretary-General of Humanitarian Affairs. I will not forget what he said to me on the first day, “Do not underestimate yourself, you are here, you all are brilliant, no matter where you came from.” Through the 7-day journey, I learned so much from the speeches, people around me, and everything that happened. It taught me a lot; I think I received the best birthday present that completely changed my life. Words cannot describe how much the experience means to me. The symposium truly gave me the power to make the people and everything around me better. I now have the CAN-DO spirit; do not hesitate, does not be afraid or let fear control you. Always believe in yourself, you have no idea how great you are - attending the conference will unleash your full potential.
Emily Seto
National Taitung University, Taiwan
The human race continue to be in dire need of freedom, liberation and a better quality of life; people from those parts of the world that have been exploited by countless injustices need it most. Poverty, war, human trafficking, racism, inequality, climate change, political corruption, and so forth have left people in desperate situations. The foregoing has left them in places that they did not imagine to find themselves in; for instance, war has torn many lives apart, victims of injustices continue being exploited without any regard for their rights, and their cries of agony have gone unheard. Finding a network of people willing to step out of the boat with their hearts set on bringing positive change in a world dominated by greed and cruelty is priceless because it encourages and gives you hope for a brighter future. My first USLS was in Manila, Philippines. I have had a soft spot for the Philippines for quite a while and have been on a few humanitarian mission trips there. Consequently, when I heard that the dates of the USLS coincided with one of my already scheduled mission trips to the Philippines, I decided to attend the symposium.

Little did I know that this humanitarian symposium would be a life changing experience; it encouraged me to continue doing humanitarian work (something I love doing) in addition to providing me with tools and networks to achieve my goal of making a difference in communities in need and changing lives. Today, I can proudly say that I have friends that have the mindset of a world-changer from across the world; moreover, I still keep in touch with them regularly. Many of us that attended the 4th USLS in the Philippines also returned to reunite with each other at the 5th USLS in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Both symposiums exceeded my expectations because of the various inspiring speakers from across the globe. The USLS stretches your mind beyond expectation by exposing and suggesting possible solutions to problems in addition to revealing many affairs that we have not considered before.

Overall, I have been incredibly blessed to be able to attend the two symposiums that have helped shape the way I perceive current affairs. USLS prompts you to start working on your dreams not only because you can achieve them, but also because the world is in dire need for change. I would like to encourage anyone considering attending the USLS to do so because I assure you that your time and money will be more than worth it. Nothing surpasses a weeklong symposium that makes you believe in yourself by making you realize that YOU are what the world needs. The USLS will set a blazing fire in your heart to motivate you to yearn for more justice, give voice to the voiceless, step out of your comfort-zone, and truly embrace the risks that you must take to unleash the power within yourself and become the person that you were created to be. The USLS will increase your capacity for love and compassion ten-folds. It is a guarantee!
Evangelin Muilenburg
University of Notre Dame, Western Australia
Attending the USLS is was one of the most incredibly life changing experiences. I could recommend this symposium to anyone who is passionate about making a change in our world. Even two years after the Symposium, I can still say that it made a huge influence not only on my well established plans for my career but also my own personality and character. I have always been a person who volunteers, starts fundraisers and gets involved in humanitarian and human rights work but being selected to attend the USLS was the moment that strengthened my desire to support and help those in need. The reason behind this strong impact on me, was a result of the symposium being very unique in it's approach. We were able to listen to and connect with outstanding speakers. We were able to interact with the local communities and to listen to their struggles. We were able to help build houses for the deprived villagers.

As a law student, my eyes were opened up once again to the changes that need to be made to the legal sector to help those who are less unfortunate. I was impacted largely by the experience of witnessing first-hand the large number of homeless people on the streets of Manila. I had seen homeless people before but had never experienced so many young hungry children on the streets. A group of us went out every night to buy hot food and drinks for a group of the street children. Their very grateful little faces was the most beautiful thing and that made us continue to reach-out to those who fall between the cracks in our society.

Another wonderful outcome of the USLS was that I was able to make friends that I have been reunited with in different cities or countries all over the globe, that I have been in contact with about changes that we want to make together. It is important to want to help those who need us, to make this place a better place, but it is also just as important to find those likeminded people that you can come together with and make it happen! That's what USLS gave to all of us, a team, a community, but most importantly a family of change makers ready to take on the world.
Eylul Top
Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
“WOW” – is the word that remains to dominate my thoughts when I recall the best week of my life that was spent at the USL Symposium in Hong Kong this summer. Weeks after this overwhelming experience, I can still feel the chills that went down my spine during the breath taking conferences and incredibly rewarding activities that the delegates were able to enjoy at this event. This adventure remains to leave me at a nostalgic yet motivational “high” that, all 873 young ambassadors can understand when they relive every moment we the conference venue. Attending the USL Symposium has enabled every single one of us, to realise our primary wish of making the world a better place. The biggest “thank you” of all times goes to the Humanitarian Affairs, for believing in us and for convincing us, that our goals are never too big and that anything can be achieved if we take on the role of an agent of change and truly commit ourselves to our mission. Every single day, the USL Symposium laid down a further milestone on our multicultural journey. It taught us tolerance, open-mindedness, how to develop our capacity of understanding cultural discrepancies, and most importantly enriching, educating and enlightening us delegates. We have been able to receive this great gift of education and have had the privilege to establish a wide network of relationships with hundreds of talented individuals who share the same aspirations in life.

Furthermore, the performances raised such awareness in me, for instance, I have not eaten even a single piece of meat since hearing about the “Green Monday” initiative, I have commenced the training for a local race, I am trying to introduce “Green Monday” at my university, have started voluntary work in a refugee camp, I am about to exchange my IPhone 6 for a Fair Phone, but most importantly, I have started spreading the message, that anyone can make a positive change in our world and that NO ONE needs a reason to help people- it comes from within. Now it is our turn! We have the necessary resources to go out there and grasp every opportunity that will allow us to embrace humanity. It is our time to set aside the rule of gold and replace it with the golden rule. It is our chance to shine a spotlight on the darkest parts of our world. It is our responsibility to channel our passion about humanitarian issues and to turn our plans into concrete actions. It is our fate to “See the world not as it is, but as what it could be”.
Felicitas Georgia Schierle
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands
It is a good thing to bring the world’s top 873 young minds in the same platform because changes and great things are bound to happen. I can say without any doubt that I am not the same person I was before attending the symposium. It may have only lasted for a week but the impact it had on me will last for a lifetime. I am a person who believes that opportunities multiply as you seize them and when I applied for the University Scholars Leadership Symposium, I had no idea of what to expect. On the first day of the symposium, I was astonished to see the gleam of purity in everyone’s eyes and from then I knew that, although we all adorned our different traditional costumes and came from diverse cultures, deep down we were all humans. Spending each day with like-minded people and hearing about their passions, dreams, and background was just beyond this world- I do not have the words to describe it. It was just unbelievable and I still remember each day of the symposium vividly.

The learning journey program at the symposium reminded me of my experience as a refugee. I heard a quote which said that ‘the only thing different between refugees and us is our circumstances.’ This saying made me contemplate about my life because being born in a refugee camp in Uganda; I have witnessed children and families suffering from both physical and psychological agony. I too was one of those suffering children until my circumstances changed and my family obtained a refugee visa to come to Australia. With this eye opening experience, I have dedicated my time to following my dream to become a motivational speaker and inspire young people to have a life meaning worth living. For those of you that have the passion and burning desire to address humanitarian issues or embark on a journey of self -discovery and following your dreams, I encourage you to grab the opportunity you have to attend the life-changing USLS. “You don’t have to be great to get started, but, you have to get started to be great.”
Fred Duku Silver
Queensland University of Technology, Australia
On the plane to Cambodia, I could not sit still because of the worries that I had all along. I was thrilled to have an opportunity to join the University Scholars Leadership Symposium and meet new people from all over the world, but was afraid that I might have set my bars up too high; I was afraid that the USLS would not meet my high expectations. However, as soon as I started my first day, I knew instantly that my worries were unfounded. As each days passed by it was only better. In the morning, we would listen to a motivating speech, and in the afternoon, we would go out to make a difference by visiting the communities in need. In the evening, over dinner, I would gather a few close friends to discuss about the contributions that we could make in the near future. Every moment was filled with great opportunities to meet amazing people with magnificent thoughts and ideas to change the world in their own ways. Most of us do not know how to begin with baby steps in making a difference in our society but as the day passes, I feel more confident to initiate small change in this world. Each one of us was a good influence and we challenged each other to make a tangible difference in this world.

Now I am in China to take another baby step toward the challenge I received from the symposium. The memories of the symposium are one reminder of the passion that keeps me such an incredible Symposium. I appreciate the chance to participate in the USLS, and I hope to be given another opportunity to attend this amazing symposium again.
Gahyun Jung, Samantha
Soongsil University- Seoul, South Korea
When applying for the Symposium in Hong Kong, I thought that it was just going to be another week of boring lecturers. I imagined it being just something that would look good on a resume and make me stand out in an interview. However, it only took me one lecture to realize that this symposium was different and the delegates actually wanted to make a difference. The speakers posed many questions to the delegates that made us ask questions to guide us in being the change that the world desperately needs. One of the highlights for me was the Learning Journey. I was fortunate to be a part of a Learning Journey that was more than hands-on. The Refugee Run is a program that enables the delegates to experience living the life of a refugee and put the visiting groups through a Refugee Camp simulation. This simulation was one of the most influential events throughout my life. The hour-long simulation put us through the life of a person that resides in a refugee camp. During the debriefing, my heart was racing and my anxiety levels were high because I was positive that I could not survive in a camp like that for an extended period time. We were told that this was only about 10% intensity of what truly goes on in a refugee camp. That learning journey has been my motivation to help refugees whenever I can and I would not have had this problem brought to my attention were it not for the USL Symposium. I will be forever grateful for this experience and will never forget that I can make a change.
Gary Scourick,
Graduate Student
Murray State University, United States of America
It was very difficult to put into words a week’s life changing experience during my speech at a University Scholars Leadership Symposium in the Philippines; however, writing this is also tasking yet easy-why? It changed my life; it made me who I am today! What really goes on in a Humanitarian Affair’s University Scholars Leadership Symposium? What happens is far less than what you get and take home. It changed my life and can change yours too because you get to associate, interact and meet with over 800 university scholars (delegates) from over 45 different countries. It is an international, multi-cultural platform where young people are equipped with first hand practical leadership experience (skills) that can propel them to see the world in a completely new horizon and trigger the humanitarian spirit in them. These are achieved by well- packaged leadership speeches by renowned life-coaches, humanitarian workers, politicians, group sessions, activities in the local communities, aid support, and so forth. If you want to be among the next generation leaders, have contemporary leadership skills that will make you stand out, and you have a humanitarian heart and spirit that pushes you to do something about the pain, suffering, hardship and poverty in this world, the next USLS should be your next stop. Let us help humanity! Let us make the world a better place! Together we can!
Godwin Success
Coventry University, England
One day, I received an email from my university’s office; I usually deleted the emails since I did not pay attention to any of them. However, I decided to open this one particular email regarding USLS. I was very interested in USLS because I wanted to gain an insight on how to become a better leader – a giving leader. In addition, I thought that Hong Kong was a good place to start for me. I never expected that I would ever make so many friends from diverse cultures like those that I made during this symposium. The talks were amazing and I was inspired in a way that I never thought I would have. I knew my ministry was always to reach out to either young children or youths and nurture them into future leaders. I wanted to inspire them as an individual and I knew that attending the symposium was a step in the right direction. After hearing the inspiring speeches and life lessons, I made a decision to do something for the community.

I was given the chance to be a group leader for the learning journey “Serving the Children”. That role was very challenging because leading a large group of delegates from diverse cultures and backgrounds meant that I had to step out of my comfort zone in order to realize the set objectives. I was thankful that my group was awesome; they were so helpful and they taught me that teamwork can take people to great places. I was very encouraged by the delegates and their motivation and enthusiasm during the learning journey. Despite the scorching heat, my team soldiered on and made such a great day happen for the children. The joy in the children’s faces was unforgettable; there is no greater joy than putting a smile face on needy child’s face, I Grace Cheong touched a child’s life!

USLS has definitely been an unforgettable experience. I highly encourage individuals who want to reach out in all forms of humanitarian efforts to attend this symposium, and learn even more. Moreover, young people must to take a leap of faith and chase their dreams since they are the leaders of tomorrow.
Grace Cheong Shuern
National University of Singapore
Thomas Chan said that “money cannot bring real change, only people can…..with faith and conviction, borders can be crossed’. Throughout history every substantial change that has re-directed the course of how humanity views individual worth, whether good or bad, has started with people. A person beliefs and determination can change the course of history. The key is staying true to “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” Mark 12:31.

The 6th University Scholars Leadership Symposium hosted many inspirational speakers that spoke from their heart and personal life experiences. The lectures and learning journeys were thought provoking, challenging, stimulating and began to pave the path of a steep incline in fighting for humanitarian issues which delegates from 57 countries around the world were passionate about.

I was inspired by many of the speakers and how they have dedicated their lives to better the lives and situations of so many around the world. I was challenged in my own life to ask the questions, am I living a purpose driven life and how do I plan on carrying out a life of change, passion, persistence, patience and purpose?

The USLS is an enriching life experience which assists individuals from all walks of life in coming together to discover the overwhelming need for change and the true meaning, passion and purpose that goes hand in hand with making that a reality. This educational enlightenment will instil motivation us to embark on a journey which we will contribute towards world change and developing a brighter future for all that live on this planet we call home.
Hailey Paynter
University of Newcastle, Australia
Feeling lost panic, and confusion – are typical symptoms of quarter-life crisis that best described me during my final year upon stepping into the ‘real world’ of adulthood. It was a time that uncertainties loaded my mind and I kept questioning myself whether to follow the conventional set of checklists like most people do; find a job, get married, buy a house, raise my kids, retire, play with my grandchildren and enjoy my final days on earth. I kept asking myself whether the foregoing is all life had to offer. The pursuit of my true purpose in life prompted me to join USLS, where the theme “Dream it; Plan it; Do it” prompted me to seek the answer during the symposium. Thanks to the cultural diversity of the conference, I was able to meet people different with great calibers from around the globe and get to know their thoughts during our discussions. We all love our cozy nest that entails a stable income, a quiet and peaceful life, and so forth, however, the most important question is, “what’s next?” one life lesson that touched my soul was, “it is not about we should, we ought to, we must” but ‘WHY’ and ‘HOW’?” We are always taught to think out of the box and we do not know how to actualize it? We have to think beyond and stretch a bit further in realization to ensure that we are really jumping out of our comfort zone instead of lingering around. Daring to dream on is not enough. We need to equip ourselves with the capability to hold onto our beliefs and most importantly, put them to action. Despite taking baby steps, I am excited that I am inching my way past borders and boundaries. I could not be more grateful to Humanitarian Affairs for organizing such an incredible symposium that has inspired me to embark on an extraordinary life journey.
Helen Mac
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Saying that the 4th USLS in Manila, Philippines, changed my life would not be an understatement. I loved it so much that I decided to return the next year to the 5th USLS in Cambodia. I have always had a passion for social justice, which was fostered, through my schooling career at Southern Hills Christian College, which gave year eleven and twelve students the opportunity to travel to the Philippines on a mission trip. Therefore, when my student services counselor Abe van Hatch suggested that, my best friend Eva and I apply for the University Scholars Leadership Symposium organized by Humanitarian Affairs, he sparked an interest that soon spread like a wildfire. Attending the humanitarian affairs conference is a decision I will never regret. Each day we had the privileged to hear from incredible guest speakers from all over the world who encouraged and inspired us. There testimonies were breath taking and as a multi-cultural group of young students, we laughed and cried together. It was incredible meeting and networking with supportive like-minded people from all over the world and hearing their stories, passions and ideas. The USLS empowers young adults all over the world and equips them with valuable skills to be able to make a lasting difference in the world.

The symposium simply left me so inspired and buzzing for change. The following year my best friend and I led a mission trip to Tacloban, Philippines and all glory goes to God. I continue to thank Him for the opportunity to attend this great symposium, which prepared us for the journey we had ahead. If you are passionate about social justice on any level, I definitely encourage you to take the leap and apply for this incredible opportunity.
Irene van Zelst
University of Notre Dame, Australia
As we touched down in Manilla on a sunny afternoon in August to attend the 4th USLS, I instantly felt welcomed from just looking at the smiles on the faces of other delegates as everyone was looking forward to meeting new people and making friends. I knew right away that this was gonna be an amazing experience. Throughout the various workshops, presentations and interactive sessions that lasted for a week, one thing was common and constantly being re-echoed: “Do something for the less privileged and reach out to communities in need”.

Today, as I sit back reflecting on those words, I realised how positively they’ve impacted on me as an individual, as everything I’ve been able to do in my community with regards community service and volunteerism are all products of the inspiration from the symposium. The “Voice in Social Change” competition of the 4th USLS was the motivation for me to develop my community development initiative, and that was a milestone in my journey towards humanitarian service. My experience at the “learning journey” totally opened my eyes to the significance of Service over Power. I now see leadership through the lens of service to humanity, In which case, Leadership has little or nothing to do with occupying an office. It is, and should always be about “what’s in it for the people”, and that’s a clarion call for us all to answer.

Building up on the lessons learnt and experiences acquired from the symposium in Manilla, I founded the “One for All Educational Trust Foundation” in North-eastern Nigeria; an initiative with a focus on promoting grass-root education in rural communities through community participation.
Ishaku Lemu Haruna
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
USLS taught me many new lessons, gave me awesome experiences and provided me with an avenue to meet with like-minded young emerging leaders from each corner of the world. It was such an unforgettable and inspiring experience of my life. I learnt important essential life-skills and it has certainly transformed me into a better citizen of the world.

Making dreams a reality happened by getting the opportunity to learn from the experiences of the humanitarian heroes which was such an awesome moment for me. I became more acknowledged with the level of commitment, I have to devote myself if I intend to serve others in need. Serving comes from the heart and we should not do it for self-gratification. This experience has made me realize the importance of contributing back to our community without having to make great changes.

USLS taught me to be more confident in everything I do especially improving my soft skills. The learning journey made me a responsible, humble, independent person. USLS also made me love the humanitarian field and I hope that I will contribute something in the humanitarian work in the near future. It was such a great opportunity to be able to attend and be part of the USLS. Thank you, Humanitarian Affairs for giving me this chance to grow to be a better person.
Izziati Mas Adaveena AG
Universiti Teknologi Mara, Malaysia
When I received the news that I would be attending the 6th USLS, I had zero expectations and completely no idea what to expect. As I got off the plane in Hong Kong, it still seemed too unreal - I thought I would be sent back home and told that it was a mistake. Thank goodness, that did not happen! USLS was an amazing and eye-opening experience, one that I never thought I would ever have. It is truly a rare and precious opportunity to be able to meet so many strong-willed and good-hearted young individuals, and of course an incredible privilege to listen to so many driven change-makers who addressed us at the symposium. Prior to this experience, I never saw myself as good enough a leader, or strong enough an individual to make a difference. Through attending the symposium, I gained so much knowledge about the world of humanitarian aid that I had not otherwise been exposed to. Interacting with people from all over the world also made me extremely appreciative of diversity - our differences were what made our friendships all the more meaningful.

During the USLS, I was selected to be one of the group leaders for the Elderly Care learning journey. It was a pleasure to serve my fellow delegates and help them make their learning journey as special as possible. The day spent helping the elderly to clean their homes was a truly memorable one, and I will not forget the smiley old lady who called out “I love you!” as we left her home. Besides sharing with friends about my own experiences on the learning journey, I got to hear so much from others who went on other diverse journeys. Since returning to Singapore, I have yet to change the world - but I have changed my mind set. Attending USLS has prompted me to rethink my view of the world and think on how I can serve the community. Rather than feeling as though I will never make a difference, I am more conscious of the fact that I have to realize that I can make use of what skills I have to take every small step forward. I have been encouraged to grow in compassion and determination as a young leader. There are so many different takeaways that I have gained from this symposium, and I honestly could not be more grateful for having been a part of the 6th USLS in Hong Kong.
Jacqueline Michelle Bong
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
The 6th University Scholars’ Leadership Symposium was the very first international symposium I had ever attended and I was really glad for the opportunity given to me by our school administration to be one of the delegates. Before the leadership symposium, I really took time to read some of the articles of the past University Scholar’s Leadership Symposium from their website and it really boost my excitement because it is something you really should look forward for. When we arrived in Hong Kong I felt so overwhelmed to be surrounded by people from all over the world, and to be able to not just meet them but to be friends with them.

During the opening of the symposium I was really excited when I saw all the delegates wearing their own national costumes and as I conversed with some of them I am slowly learning their culture as well as I am showing them my own culture from the Philippines. At first, it was really hard for me especially because in our group I was the only one who cannot speak nor understand Mandarin but I was grateful because they tried their best to translate their conversation so I won’t be out of place.

I could say that the University Scholars’ Leadership Symposium indeed change my life on how I view things specially through the Elderly Care, wherein we experienced helping an elderly to clean their house and as well as accompanying and conversing with them. The elderly ladies we had helped were very sweet and friendly even though we had a language barrier, I was deeply touched because through their actions I felt that we were deeply appreciated and indeed all our efforts paid off. The presentation from the speakers are really something you should always keep in mind and in heart because I realized the importance of making an action no matter how small it is, it will eventually do a big difference in this world. If ever I would be given another opportunity to attend another University Scholars’ Leadership Symposium, I would definitely grab it because it is indeed a once in a lifetime experience that you can treasure for the rest of your life.
Jazmine Ann C. Kuan
St. Paul University Manila, Philippines
Applying for the University Scholars Leadership Symposium this year was taking a leap of faith into the unknown. I arrived with four friends from the University of Sydney on the first day of the conference, surrounded by over 850 other delegates from 57 countries whom we would soon make lasting friendships with. Though I only had the privilege to speak with a fraction of the other delegates, every person I met was extremely friendly, passionate and driven. Taking home lasting friendships was not among my main expectations for the week but nonetheless became my favourite aspect of the symposium.

The conference itself took place in a vast auditorium, made intimate by a diverse range of inspirational speakers that drew us in to their lives and shared with us their experiences that have shaped the people they are today. From the joys of giving, to goal setting, to finding purpose, an underlying message was continually present throughout the entire symposium that resonated with me. Our actions, attitudes and experiences are ours to control. We have power within ourselves to shape our own lives and leave a positive legacy. No matter how large or small, we can still make a difference. As a student studying to become a teacher, I feel the symposium has allowed me to truly appreciate the power of even the smallest of differences and the monumental impact they can have on others. Being a positive role model and making a difference in children’s lives is what initiated my desire to teach. This week in Hong Kong as cemented my desire so much more. My experiences at the 6th USLS are now stories of my own I can share and will definitely not soon be forgotten.
Jed Swift
University of Sydney, Australia
Before attending the USLS, like many young scholars, I considered it as an opportunity to have a university-funded exploration of the Asian culture. However, as soon as I entered the auditorium, it became clear that USLS would mean so much more to me. USLS thrust me into an environment wherein I was surrounded by an unprecedented diverse range of cultures and could learn about the everyday lives of people from all around the world. This enhanced my cultural sensitivity, understanding and tolerance. Interacting with these people, a majority of who did not share the same my first language provided me with the opportunity to refine my communicative and interpersonal skills. During the week, I had the unique opportunity to listen to many erudite and inspiring speakers that touched my life. Listening to these speakers inspired me to drive to make a tangible change to my community and spread the invaluable knowledge and journey that I took with like-minded scholars. I boarded the plane to Hong Kong a fun and seeking scholar but left the symposium a leader ready to take the world by storm through effecting change in people’s lives.

The University Scholars’ Leadership Symposium inspires; it throws the impetus for change in your face like nothing else can. It will touch places in your heart that you never imagined existed within you, and evoke emotions you have never before felt. For instance, I felt emotions that I have never felt when one of the needy kids we helped, kissed my cheek and said, “Thank You.” The little things we do make a big difference. It is a truly remarkable experience, and one that will stay with me forever. To those of you that are considering attending the USLS, do not give it a second thought- Just do it!
Jordan Moulds
University of South Australia
Just out of curiosity, I browsed through the USLS website and before I knew it, I was interested in the program and decided to register online. Just like that, the USLS has become one of the most unforgettable experiences in my life. People might argue that our effort was too little when we embarked on a 1-day learning journey experience, however, in my opinion, every little effort is equally important. After all, if no one takes the first step, then we will not achieve anything. When I saw the smiles and appreciations from the children that we helped, I realized the true meaning of the quote, “to the world you may be just one person, but to a person, you may be the world”. Our effort may have seemed little, but it certainly meant a lot to those children and for me as well. I thought I was there to help, however, eventually I they taught me a valuable lesson; I learnt to enjoy simple life, understand things from diverse viewpoints and develop a broader mindset.

For those that are passionate about humanitarian issues and already have some insight into it, without doubt, being a delegate of USLS provides you with the opportunity to learn from the many inspiring humanitarian speakers. It is a program that will certainly help you to discover yourself and give you the ability to effect change. For those that are unaware of humanitarian issues, this symposium is an eye-opener. The symposium reveals the humane side that will motivate an individuals to help those communities in need. I hope that everyone will have the same great experience I had during the USLS. It has a life-long impact on me and I appreciate the unique learning opportunity at the symposium.
Kao Yi-Fang
National Cheng Chi University, Taiwan
The 6th USLS was an absolutely amazing experience. Hong Kong, the place where the East meets the West was an exciting location for the symposium. The opportunity to meet with like-minded students from all over the world provided a base for some of the most incredible and inspiring conversations. In the past, I would often ask myself the question, “what can little old me do to make a difference to world challenges that seem so devastating and overwhelming?” USLS has helped me to understand that I have the ability to make a difference by being me, by using the resources and opportunities that I have at hand in whatever I am doing. During the weeklong symposium, we were confronted and inspired with stories about the world we live in. The symposium not only gave light to some of the world’s major challenges, it also helped to equip the young future leaders with skills, encouragement and drive to make a difference at home and abroad. I thank you Humanitarian Affairs for the unforgettable and inspiring week!
Kate Endacott
University of Newcastle, Australia
I had the privilege to spend 9 months in Hong Kong, studying abroad, and interning in Hong Kong. The University Scholars Leadership Symposium was the beginning of my journey and I had no idea about the profound effect this opportunity would have on my time in Hong Kong and thereafter. That week provided me with new perspectives on humanitarian issues, dynamic and innovative ways to address global challenges and issues, and a strong network of like-minded colleagues who are passionate to make a change as a collective unit. After the Symposium, I was propelled into action, and reached out to numerous organizations wherein I wanted to work as a volunteer. I am now working on projects that promote the full and equal participation of women and girls in all aspects of the Hong Kong society. Furthermore, I am now a part of the incredible USLS family from diverse cultures and countries, and with whom I keep in regular contact. I believe that this is one of the key strengths of the Symposium, bringing together driven, young minds, who can continue the social action momentum after the week is over. As the Honorable Mr. Eddie Ng, Secretary for Education of Hong Kong, stated in his closing address, “The future is uncertain, the best way you can manage it, is to do it together.”

To future potential delegates, USLS will provide you with the momentum and drive you have been searching for. You are very fortunate that you are about to experience a week infused with vibrant cultures, captivating speakers, and stimulating workshops. Taking responsibility and action - personally and together - is strong theme of USLS. Be the change you want to see in the world with USLS.
Katie Brand
Monash University, Australia
I had an awesome experience at the University Scholars Leadership Symposium. In fact, “awesome” is an understatement word to describe my feelings at the Symposium. This one week has definitely influenced me in many ways. The feelings we as delegates shared were too raw and genuine to be butchered by fancy words. What I saw with my own eyes was hundreds of young and aspiring people gathered because the fire burning inside of them makes it impossible for to stop changing for the better. The reality that I experienced was like a quiet storm that slowly but surely took over me. Refugee crisis, education trap, poverty, famine, society issues, and so forth are problems that we cannot take lightly. I have always sought to be a leader, but, for selfish reasons. Before the symposium, I was an arrogant and self-centered scholar that thought she had what it takes to be a leader; I considered myself Ms. “know-it-all.” All it took was the one-weeklong symposium for me to realize how wrong I was and feel ashamed about my naivety and arrogance. Sometimes, it requires the whole world to fight together in full force; even a young girl in a little island called Taiwan can play her part too. Now there is a new flame inside of me, I burn for the one purpose I hope we all share - the love for this world and the humans that live on it.
Kay Lee
University of Taipei, Taiwan
Words are not enough to describe the unbelievable experience I had in the USLS; all the things I saw, heard, felt and all the people I met during this 7-day period are irreplaceable. Like-minded people from all around the world gathered in a single place and shared their passions and, dreams together as one. It is fate that brought us all together and it is up to us as future leaders to stand up for what`s right and make a difference.

The learning journey program has made me look at life from a completely new different perspective. I always thought what I should do and become in order to make an impact on other people`s life but I did not get a clear-cut answer. Now, thanks to all the speakers and other delegates from other countries, I finally realized that the answer is to be myself. As part of a collective force of like-minded people, we will definitely change the world. The entire experience has been the best present a person can get for his birthday.
Kenneth Liew
International Medical University, Malaysia
It was a great opportunity for me to be part of the 4th University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Manila, Philippines. I was selected to be a representative of Thammasat University and to represent my country, Thailand. When I stepped into the convention hall, I was surprised to see more than 700 young leaders from 45 countries in their traditional costumes, coming together as One People to make this world a better place for the human race.

I learnt precious life-skills that will enable me lead a fulfilling life. I got a good understanding of world issues affecting young people from around the world. This knowledge has given me an insight of the world situations affecting my generations. The delegates, I met at the symposium inspired me greatly and they had more global perspectives on world affairs than the friends I have in my college. During our discussion, I shared and learnt from the delegates on matter concerning youth developments in the region and how new ideas could be created during this conversation.

I was so inspired at the symposium that upon my return, I started a project to teach the students from the disadvantaged families during my summer vacation. The USLS has provided me with many fulfilling experiences and now I want to contribute to do good for my country. Thank you for inspiring us, Humanitarian Affairs.
Khwanjira Ponsree
Thammasat University, Thailand
During this one week of unforgettable experience at the USLS, I acquired new skills and learnt the words of wisdom from world-renowned humanitarian speakers and professional life coaches. My personal growth and development has certainly increased. Moreover, it was a great opportunity to interact with so many people from diverse backgrounds. I realized that I learnt a lot more during this short one week in my homeland, Cambodia than the time I spent living here. The USLS has indeed lived up to it purpose of encouraging young people to get involved with the communities and providing the delegates with essential life-skills that will allow them to touch the lives of those living below the poverty line. The amazing thing is that there were so many like-minded young people from across the globe that wanted to make a difference in today world. This has ignited in me a glowing fame to do more for the disadvantaged that are living in my own backyard. I am incredibly inspired; this amazing program challenged me to transform into a doer and change the society albeit in a small way. I am looking forward to attending the next Symposium because I love to learn more about people’s lives at the USLS.
Leng Leaksmy
Paññāsāstra University, Cambodia
I was selected to attend the University Scholars Leadership Symposium in the Philippines. I didn´t know what to expect and it turned out to be a life changing experience. It opened my eyes towards the responsibility that each one of us has to be agents of social change. After the USLS, I was full of positive energy and I joined the committee of the Artillery Festival an Amnesty International initiative to create awareness of different human right issues among young people and I also raised funds for a charity organization back in my country.

I was appointed the Humanitarian Affairs Youth Ambassador and in that capacity with the support of Swinburne University, I co-ordinated a group of students and we organised the inaugural Youth Humanitarian Festival (YHF); an event to engage students in human rights and social issues. Now the YHF is a yearly event held at Swinburne and through the festival we have raised funds for different charities.

Further, I attended the USLS in Cambodia and participated in the Voice of Social Change. I was completely astonished with the fantastic projects of other participants to help alleviate poverty through education. At the USLS, I truly embraced the meaning of service to the community. Definitely the USLS changed my life, motivated me and inspired me to make a positive impact starting with my community and soon I will do something for my country.
Liz Rodriguez
Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne
When the opportunity to attend the 6th Annual University Scholars Leadership Symposium first presented itself to me as a student leader at my university, I wasn’t very sure if it was the type of thing that I could take up. Not because I underestimated my abilities, but because of the resources I knew would be necessary to get me there were lacking. But with a little bit of encouragement and a lot of support from my mother, I found myself boarding a plane heading to Hong Kong for my first international trip by myself. There are no words known to man to describe how my life has changed from that moment.

Fast forward to my arrival in Hong Kong, scared and a tad bit insecure, I felt at ease as soon as I spotted the Humanitarian Affairs team at the airport, who put me at ease instantaneously with their warm smiles and friendly greetings. The organisation that went into coordinating the entire event was impeccable from the start.

The Symposium itself was an earth-shattering experience from the opening ceremony, right through to the announcement of next year’s destination at the closing ceremony. The programme was planned and tailored so seamlessly to provide us with the optimal experience – for the first time ever perhaps, I felt as though each and every of the inspiring speaker planted some or other sort of seed in my head. To add on to all of that, I was also fortunate enough to be among the delegates who experienced the Refugee Run at the Learning Journey. And for the very first time, I was so deeply moved by the experience, that I was inspired to do just as David Begbie prompted us: “Use Who You Are, and Do What You Can.”

I honestly came home and encouraged all my friends to start saving their Rands so that they can join me on this amazing journey to the next USLS in Vietnam. A very big thank you to Humanitarian Affairs for conceptualising and hosting this life-changing event because I can only imagine the impact it has had and will have on the lives of many youths who are the future of this incredible world we live in.
Lulama Shongwe
University of Pretoria, South Africa
I cannot articulate how much this one week at the USLS has meant to me. It changed my world view, so much is happening within me right now that at this stage, I cannot even comprehend the scope all of it. Nevertheless, I would like to do a few things immediately this symposium is over; I will stop collecting material things because they weigh my life down. I no longer believe that income has anything to do with quality of life. I am going to stop wasting time! When something terrifies me, it is usually a good indicator that therein lies personal growth. Last night, my fellow delegates and our faculty observer discussed and exchanged ideas until the wee hours of the morning; we concluded that are make change albeit small, in many ways. The rest of the ideas, in particular challenging xenophobia in South Africa, using my skills to help others, and fostering a recycling culture in our country are still half-formed and no more than scribbles in my note book at this stage; however, I will strive to turn them into reality.

I am still unsure of what my role as a humanitarian will be in the long- run, however, thanks to Humanitarian Affairs, I will leave the symposium confident that I certainly have a role to play in the international humanitarian crisis. Let the world be rest assured that I am going to be a ripple in the pond.
Maria Ferreira‬
University of Johannesburg, South Africa
One of my greatest reservations about international conferences in general, is the fact that delegates show up, ready to throw solutions at each other, thinking they each have the best solution to a given international problem. However, the USLS was unique; what positively surprised me and left a lasting impression on me was the fact that, every single delegate at USLS attended the symposium with only the expectation of being exposed to other cultures, learning from others' experiences, and collaborating on formulating ideas. All the participants subjected themselves to openness in the best sense, and allowed themselves to be immersed in this pot of cosmopolitan ideas.

It was exhilarating to see that all of the almost 900 delegates at the symposium could unite in a common conscience from biologists to psychiatrists to engineers and politicians. At the symposium, all the participants gave our humanity priority; it was all about helping and developing communities. At the end of the day, we all learnt that the differences across cultures only served as tools to enrich humanity with the ability to find better solutions as opposed to dividing us. I had the exciting opportunity to serve as team leader on this learning journey; this opportunity exposed me to the experiences and thoughts of a dozen different nationalities. The USLS was an experience that I would not hesitate to shout from the rooftops for all to hear; I highly recommend all eligible and promising young leaders to attend the symposium. I look forward to staying involved with Humanitarian Affairs and following the initiatives that spring out of USLS in years to come.
Matt Mahmoudi
Queen Mary University, United Kingdom
The University Scholars’ Leadership Symposium was an incredible opportunity to be in the company of likeminded peers who were open and motivated aspiring young leaders. During my time in Hong Kong, I was moved, awestruck and humbled by not only the incredible setting, but also the life experiences, achievements and passions shared by each of the inspirational speakers who graced the symposium. My fellow delegates, many of whom are now my friends, have also transformed the way in which I view the world and invaluably enriched my cultural understanding and communication skills by openly sharing their culture and personal life journeys. The USL Symposium has broadened my perspective on life and inspired the growth and belief within myself that I will have a meaningful impact on the world in the future. I am grateful for this indelible experience in attending this amazing symposium and I look forward to attending again in future, an intention I encourage others to aspire to as well.
Megan Cook
University of Newcastle, Australia
Participating in the University Scholars Leadership Symposium is one of the most rewarding and eye-opening experiences I ever had. I still remember vividly how astonished I was when I entered the convention centre on the first morning; there were almost nine hundred people adorned in their traditional costumes and it was certainly a remarkable sight. The symposium enhanced my leadership and interpersonal skills in addition to stimulating me to change the world into a better place to live in. One of my favourite speakers, David James Begbie, gave an inspiring talk on the deplorable life of the refugees. He highlighted some simple steps that each of us could take to help the refugees. Before the symposium, I had never thought of helping the refugees. After the symposium, I was inspired to join the Refugee Run in order to have more insight on the refugees’ lives and help them where I can.

Other than the life lessons and inspiring real life experiences from various speakers, the symposium provided me with the opportunity to attend a full-day learning journey program. I participated in a “Day Camp” for less fortunate children and the feeling of giving back to society was overwhelming. It was an enjoyable and enriching experience working with other delegates from different countries. What’s more, I have fostered precious friendships with people from diverse backgrounds. I believe that all delegates had the most enjoyable time in the symposium. Words could not describe this fruitful experience. I highly encourage every youth to join the next University Scholars Leadership Symposium; it is a worthwhile experience.
Michelle Yung
Centennial College - HKU, Hong Kong
Articulating experiences through the expression of words only gives a fraction of the hugely inspiring time I had at the USLS in Hong Kong. It is in the people, the delegates; I found the true reason for me attending the symposium. Prior to my attendance I was adamant to find people who were like-minded, dedicated to self-realisation and the expansion of human consciousness. Interested in saving the environment, see us all as global citizens, see our uniqueness and embrace in rather an fear that which is not known. This is a testament to USLS. Their intention to provide a platform aim at young delegates committed to solving humanitarian issues was truly realised during this 7 day period.

I really enjoyed the lectures, it was interesting to see other people’s perspectives and interpretations of the topics discussed. I have to say the questions asked were fantastic, some of which created another mini lecture in response. The learning journey programme I attended was particularly memorable for me. It was very humbling experience to help the elderly within their homes. The conditions in which they lived still surprised me despite having prior knowledge; tangible experiences makes a very strong impression as does the gratitude received from those I helped.

A memento I have taken from this symposium is an increased faith in the human potential and the likelihood of that being cultivated for good causes. As individuals we change the lives of others every day and I am confident in our ability to make the world a more harmonious and accepting place. Simply put… It was that amazing I have already made plans to attend next year’s symposium! I look forward to meeting you all again.
Mitchell Wheeler
Coventry University, United Kingdom
At first, I thought that attending the USLS would be another one of those boring conferences; only listening to speeches all day, but it actually was not. After I participated in this Symposium, my mind opened up and realized that many people out there need our help. I went to the Symposium as someone who did not care about the world and come out as someone who really cares about issues facing the world. After the learning journey of catering for the needs of children from deprived backgrounds, I became aware of the fact that that happiness itself is not derived from the things we possess; rather, happiness is derived from helping others. I have realized how fortunate I am, as there are many children who are living happily even in the midst of their struggles with poverty. It was an emotional moment for me when I listen attentively to the speech by Geraldine Cox; I could not hold back tears throughout her speech. Her speech left me with a burning desire to serve the less fortunate children because I learnt of the suffering many of them undergo in their childhood years.

Having participated in the USLS, I started to think about my purpose in life. It has since changed me into someone that lives life with a meaningful purpose in it. Furthermore, the USLS has enabled me to get out of my comfort zone and to interact with people from all around the world who are completely different from me in every aspect of life. This symposium was the most enriching event that I have ever attended. I will never forget the memories and lessons I learnt from this symposium. For those who have never joined this program, I strongly encourage you to do so. For everyone who did join, I hope that we will meet again in another USLS.
Monica Jocom
University of Sam Ratulangi, Indonesia
The University Scholars Leadership Symposium was an experience unlike any other. When trying to describe exactly what the USLS meant to me and many other delegates, some of the words that come to mind are unifying, thought provoking, and compassionate.

I say unifying because of the ability of the USLS to unite 873 delegates from 57 different countries that share in a common dream of a better world. The unique opportunity to meet other motivated, passionate young people from around the world was a fantastic way to not only develop a deeper understanding of other cultures, but also to appreciate the innate humanity which connects us all. The opportunity to engage with people from diverse backgrounds and ambitions but with a shared vision was incredibly inspiring, and what I learnt from my peers during this time continues to drive my goals today. USLS was thought provoking, as each engrossing speaker offered a unique insight into areas of goal development, initiating change and humanitarian issues. These sessions shed light on the harsh realities, which countless people face due to poverty, refugee status or simply age, demonstrating injustice, which desperately needs to be addressed.

One of the aspects of USLS, which I found most inspiring, was its focus on making the world a better place by promoting justice for all of the citizens of this global village. It demonstrated the strength in compassion; the ability to stand up and do what it right regardless of barriers one may face. Being able to contribute in any small way to the delight of the children as they experienced their first amusement park in my Learning Journey, ‘Serving the Children’, was a privilege which gave me an immense sense of joy. USLS has inspired my confidence in the notion, “anyone can take action, no matter how small, towards a more understanding and compassionate world.” I am deeply grateful to Humanitarian Affairs, and my own university for making this experience a reality, and I would highly recommend USLS to any student wishing to see a positive change in the making.
Monika Janinski
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
Growing up, I have always been blessed enough to live comfortably without much worries. Although I was aware that not everybody in the world has had it as good as I have, USLS has made me realise that living a life in this materialistic world will not make one happier. USLS has changed my life, and make me want to live my life for the betterment of the human race. Before the Symposium, I thought that I was just attending yet another conference. Never have I imagine that my life will be changed so much after the symposium. This USLS has made me realise the importance of living a purposeful life and it has mould me into a person I am today. I am forever indebted to Humanitarian Affairs for the life changing moment.

I feel a thousand times more motivated to achieve amazing things for the greater good. Now, I want to change the world. But what I have realised is that change starts from within. I wake up each morning, wanting to be a better version of myself. I learn to take risks, challenge the unknown, and find comfort in failure; knowing that it is a step closer to success. All of this, I owe to USLS. Thank you Humanitarian Affairs for this amazing journey.
Myra Biusing
Taylor University, Malaysia
For years, I had been shown how language divided and made us think differently. Despite our differences, our individual worlds share a great deal; we all face the same issues whether be it poverty, illness, or the boredom of accounting classes. Passion knows no linguistic boundary; we became our passions for change at the USLS and it became our communal language. We all learnt one thing; we influence ourselves to postpone our dreams with the questions of what? or when? Instead, we should conquer our passions by seizing the opportunities given to us to develop ourselves as well as shaping the world around us.

I do not think I could talk about my experience at the USLS without mentioning my learning journey, the renowned Refugee Run. I encountered two opposing forces – hope and hopelessness. While under my alias, as child, I immediately switched into a survival mindset, hastily hiding my watch, “it could be a precious trading tool – they might steal it.” Within minutes, I became powerless, we were given forms to fill out and as fortune would have it only my pen did not work. I had followed every instruction yet circumstance could have forced my simulated life to cease. I felt that my life was out of my control – hopeless. For the first time in my life, I could directly associate education as a tool of hope. My USLS experience developed me, showed me new perspectives of life, and gave me lifelong friends and memories. I am grateful to Humanitarian Affairs for teaching us a lesson of hope.
Nathan llic
University of Adelaide, Australia
Who would’ve thought that a single week could change my life and world perspective forever? Well, I sure didn’t - at least not before attending the 6th USLS in Hong Kong. Beforehand, I saw it as a chance to travel, meet new people and develop myself. Though, it turned out to be so much more than just this. It started with the day I arrived in Hong Kong at the airport. A kind delegate got up at 5 am in the morning to welcome a few other delegates and me and accompany us on our first steps on the unknown soil of this world metropole. This was the first act of kindness that changed me and all the perspectives I had before.

After the first day at the Symposium it was hard to imagine it will get any better as it was already awesome. I’ve heard the most inspiring speeches and met the greatest people from all over the world. However, each day was getting even better or I should say overwhelming. I was inspired to do better, be greater and change the world. I was giving a chance to be a group leader during the learning journey and this experience has indeed made me aware of the importance of managing a group of people of diverse cultural backgrounds and languages. I learnt to develop global leadership skills.

It was truly a reflection of the fact that actions speak louder than words and that a single person CAN make a change in this world. I could write forever but no words would do justice to the experiences I’ve had during the week long symposium. What I can say though is, that I got inspired, motivated, and have build friendships and connections that go far beyond the conference. Thank you Humanitarian Affairs for enriching, educating, enlightening me.
Nina Siegfried
Arnhem Business School, Netherlands
Before the USLS, I had only attended the Model United Nations and the Model African Union. The 6th USLS was the first international symposium I had attended. I embarked on this journey with mixed feelings: I was excited to meet new people, to discover a new country and most importantly to participate in this international event, but I was also apprehensive as to what I will learn and its potential impact on me.

Looking back, I can affirm that it was one of the wisest decisions I have ever taken. The USLS brought a paradigm shift in the way I see life. It forced me to rethink of the way I live and of my purpose in life. It rekindled the light of humanity that is deep within all of us. It was an eye-opening journey, filled with joy, laughter, tears, and also a beautiful sharing of knowledge and life experiences. It taught me that I had to live my life in a simple way to enable others to simply live. The Refugee Run, certainly one of the most rewarding parts of this symposium, taught me that the only difference between me or any of us and refugees is circumstance. It taught me of the shocking plight of many around the world. Indeed, the USLS was a life changing experience for me.

Now back in Mauritius, I find myself embarking on new projects with the aim of putting all that I learnt into action. Thank you “ Humanitarian Affairs ” for teaching us how to live a purposeful life.
Nivershee Theeroovengadum
University of Mauritius
Before the symposium, I had very little confidence in myself. I boarded the plane alone for the first time, anxious and afraid of the unexpected. Little did I know that the following week would inspire and change me in ways that I could not imagine. The speakers who taught me to be humble, to start now, be myself and make a change inspired me. Moreover, I was inspired by the beautiful kids that I met during the learning journey who taught me to appreciate all that I have. I was there thinking of ways to positively impact their lives but I did not realize that they were impacting mine in so many phenomenal ways. What inspired me most was the delegates I met; they were like-minded people who had the same ambitions and passion to change the world as I did. I saw leaders in these incredible people and met real life superheroes. We did not just become friends; we also became leaders together. I left the symposium inspired and encouraged to continue my passion in humanitarian affairs and help those in need. The symposium taught me that I do not have to be someone big or wealthy to change the world. All I have to be is myself, and change albeit small makes a difference. USLS was the most beautiful and emotional experience of my life. To those who do not have enough confidence to get involved, I highly encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and grab the once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the USLS.
Rahila Haidari
Murdoch University, Western Australia
When I first applied to attend the University Scholars Leadership Symposium, I believed it would be about leadership. Much to my surprise, I found that the symposium was not only about leadership but social change. There is something to be said about being in a room filled with highly intellectual, cross-cultural, and motivated individuals. To be able to meet and discuss the problems of this world and its need for change was life altering. Everyone at the symposium understood the challenges that face our world with climate change, poverty, wars, and natural disasters among others. We all envisioned a future to make our world more sustainable and fair for every person who inhabits it. The magnitude and collectively of students from around the world was truly a beautiful and remarkable experience. The mind-set was that, “ We are one. We, from all countries of the world, want a better future. We believe that social change is our future and that we have the ability to create it.”

This was my experience of the symposium. Where people cared about what happens in not only their own countries but in others as well. Where people discussed whether humanitarian aids from one country are being utilized in another. Where people asked, “how can I help?”

We were like a small family of 876 students; we all cried during presentations revealing the harsh realities of this world; we all laughed together when speakers joked about our youth and vigour; and we all felt guilt together when we were asked what we were doing to help those most in need in our own countries. The speakers told us of their stories. They told us of the issues facing our world, the atrocities that were happening, and how we could become more than who we were. They inspired us to not be swayed by fear of failing, but to overcome our fears and achieve our goals (even if we are told they are too big).

Engraved in my heart is the understanding that one person can make a difference, if they only have the passion and will to follow their ambitions. However, more impacting is the notion that I do not need to feel alone in my endeavours. I have 876 new friends to support me. Together we have all the tools needed to stand up and be leaders in our own countries and abroad. So what have I learned from this compelling experience? I think that you, reading this, are going to have to find out for yourself!
Regena Bauchman
Thompson Rivers University, Canada
The 6th University Leadership Symposium came at the right time in my life. The opportunity to be able to travel and meet 873 like-mind minded young people from 57 countries and experience life changing learning journeys and stimulation exercises was amazing!

The idea of inviting and selecting students from around the world to experience and learn leadership skills in a creative methodology is outstanding. Such a platform provide an avenue for delegates to share about the problems in our own backyards and learnt the best practices from others who have experienced similar issues in their countries. Friendships were created not because of our problems but because we were all willing to help one another as we shared many similarities than differences. I was fortunate enough to learn so much from the speakers and from my fellow delegates.

During my learning journey, I painted the entrance of an aged home in Cheung Chau Island and I managed to learn more about our cultures and how the elderly are treated in different parts of the world. I was surprised to see a large population of elderly people in Hong Kong compared to my country, Zimbabwe, which is relatively a nation with many young persons.

I managed to greet a many beautiful elderly women and I remember their smiles and giggles as they were impressed that I had learnt how to greet in their language. They tried a bit of English but we all ended up laughing at the situation on how we all wanted to communicate with one another but could not. I am not the person who like to eat fish but the fish dishes was specially prepared for us by these lovely elderly that I couldn’t refused their kind gestures. I have no regret in trying it as the fish was extremely delicious.

Besides the lunch and the precious moment, I had with the elderly; I realised that LOVE is one important aspects in serving others. The people we worked with, the ladies that run this home and the elderly in this island are all full of love, I saw this through them thanking us for the painted entrance and time spent at their home. I enjoyed spending time with the elderly, even if I was not able to understand them, there was no need to translate the love they all showed us. Love is definitely a universal language.

As a foreigner amongst many that day I was impressed by how we were welcomed and treated with so much love and respect. I am also a foreign student in South Africa where xenophobic attacks occurred not so long ago and I think this stems from a community that fuels with hatred towards foreigners amongst them instead of embracing them. I felt so comfortable being in Cheung Chau Island and Hong Kong in general, not having to worry about your safety in a foreign place is a great feeling. I can say this learning journey gave me hope, hope to see diversity being embraced as a way of life throughout communities in the world. I have hope for my country, I have hope for Africa, I have hope for our future generations.
Ropa Mashiri
University of Johannesburg
Since being given the opportunity to attend the USLS, I look back upon it with mixed emotions, feelings as well as a new perspective. I experienced first-hand the observations and discussions of the varying challenges that face our world, astray from the kind we are prompted with by the media. Seeing many delegates representing their nations approach the microphone and ask without conviction, hesitation or parameters, “What can I do?” “What do I have to do” “Tell me what to do”, made me far more conscious of these efforts and driven desires, as well as their counterpart struggles. I find this feeling hard to shake whether this is due to the comparison of prevalent issues between my home country; whereby our ‘crises’ are measurably less dire than others, or simply that resolutions to these common day tragedies seem far too infrequent, or even away to impact. USLS was an experience that I believe I much needed. From being instilled with insight, and in some cases, moral outrage, it has struck a spark that has lit a burning fire in me. Not so much with a direction or a path as of yet, but with an intensity which should remain, for which I am grateful.
Rory Johnston
Edith Cowan University, Australia
I came across the opportunity to attend the USLS through a program at my university and I am infinitely glad that I took it. This symposium truly has it all; the speakers, the cultural diversity, a great selection of experiential learning activities, the opportunities and a great, warm and welcoming atmosphere. I still think of the small bits of wisdom and motivation I took from the spontaneous conversations by the breakfast buffet, the tears shed whilst taking part in a Refugee Run simulation to the hearty laughs that we shared and understood as special despite all of our differences. Perhaps, the most valuable aspect to this experience was in having the opportunity to meet fellow delegates of all ages, cultures, nationalities and religions and with whom I shared common ideals and dreams. Indeed, over the course of five days, I can confidently say that, my ideas and goals no longer seem so far-fetched. I left the USLS feeling more confident, motivated, humbled and determined to make a difference. Despite lasting for a mere five days, my experience at the USLS will stay with me forever. I sincerely wish to express my heartfelt appreciation to Humanitarian Affairs for establishing this magnificent symposium.
Rose Le
University of Technology, Sydney
My experience at the University Scholars Leadership Symposium was life changing; it inspired me to help the less fortunate in our global community, whilst forming life-long friendships with like-minded young leaders from a multitude of nations with diverse cultures. I first attended the University Scholars Leadership Symposium in the Philippines as an Australian delegate. I was eager to learn more about the global issues facing humanity such as poverty and a lack of education. At the Symposium, CNN Heroes, social entrepreneurs and motivational speakers who shared their stories, inspired me. The most memorable moment of the Symposium was when I visited a remote community with 300 other delegates to build a series of houses to home teachers who teach at the local school. The USLS was a whirlwind of learning, action, adventure and endless fun. From the very first day, over 700 delegates from 45 nations were united as one by the common desire to help humanity - a desire that must be the root of any humanitarian work. We may have come from different countries but our similarities were much greater than our differences; friendships were formed and lives were transformed.

My experience at the Symposium was the driving force that motivated me to start a Humanitarian Affairs chapter at my university with my peers and to take on the role of Youth Ambassador of Humanitarian Affairs UK. The following year, I attended the University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Cambodia as a team member where I had the opportunity to assist with the operations of the Symposium, meet many of the inspirational speakers and extend my global network. I will forever treasure the memories made at both the USLS in the Philippines and Cambodia. The University Scholars Leadership Symposium is the perfect opportunity for young leaders seeking inspiration and motivation to help the less fortunate, to create global networks and form friendships that last a life time and surpass any borders.
Samantha Pacchiarotta
Western Sydney University, Australia
I am pursuing a Masters Degree in Global Leadership Program at Swinburne University, Australia. Along with my academic experience, I have always been compassionate about vulnerable and needy people. However, I was unable to bridge the theoretical leadership concepts with my sense of caring about people. I was born and raised in a country in which equality has no meaning or place. However, I have always been keen to make change albeit small in my country and ultimately in the world. Surprisingly, I got the golden opportunity to attend this amazing USLS through my university. After attending the symposium, I realized that it challenged me intellectually and emotionally; USLS taught me to dare and care. Through honorable guest speakers, workshops, learning journey and intensive simulation, I was empowered to stand up, speak up and influence. The program enhanced my understanding about humanitarian crisis and its impact on vulnerable populations. The symposium taught and motivated me to take a step albeit small to help needy people. It helped me to be courageous enough to have a louder voice in order to be heard and make an influence as a female leader.
Sanaz Bin
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
My interest in the humanitarian field motivated me to apply to attend the USLS; little did I know that this experience would turn out to be a truly life changing moment for me. When I arrived at the hotel, I felt homesick, however, the moment I mingled with the various delegates from all over the world, my homesickness turned to a moment of happiness. The USLS gave me a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience diversity in one platform; I must admit that it was my first time to meet and interact with so many people from different cultures and nationalities in one single place; the feeling was awesome! I have always dreaded public speaking, so, when I was chosen to be a moderator for one of the sessions, I broke into a cold sweat and kept thinking “oh God! I cannot do this!” However, I recalled the advice from one of the speakers on how to build one’s confidence and I remember telling myself, “You have come a long way to mess things up now.” I took a deep breath to calm myself and was able to focus on doing my work well. From this experience, I managed to overcome the fear of public speaking; I thank Humanitarian Affairs for their trust and for believing in me to moderate that session. This journey has certainly made me improve on my weakness and overcome my greatest fear. The sad tears that rolled down my face when I was homesick on the first day, turned into tears of joy a week later whilst bidding my newfound friends from across the world farewell. I strongly recommend college students to take a part in this life changing experience.
SaraBelle Khalifeh
Lebanese American University, Lebanon
An international leadership conference presupposes training by world-class leaders, industry professionals and influential politicians. Never did I expect to have my eyes opened to international issues pertaining to humanitarian contexts. My experience at the University Scholars Leadership Symposium enabled me to be more cognizant of global issues that plague humanity, issues that have become desensitizes and normalized.

Upon landing in Hong Kong, Humanitarian Affairs volunteers that were eagerly welcoming all delegates greeted me warmly. From that moment, I knew that this week was going to be transformative. Having attended conferences in the past, I am aware of the difficulty in organizing such a large-scale event. The planning was flawless, the transition between speakers was seamless, and the environment was encouraging.

Learning is a never-ending journey, but the content of what one learns is crucial. While other conferences educate you about specific issues, this conference is different in this sense - it informs you about relevant issues. Having attended this conference, I learnt an important lesson, “volunteering only goes so far.” The best way to propagate profound change is through policy. The simulations and experiences here immersed us in an environment to be aware of the issues; this was the trigger to make nearly 900 future leaders inspired and ready to shake the world. Thanks to everyone at Humanitarian Affairs for making this conference possible.
Sayjon Ariyarathnam
York University, Canada
The USLS was something that I had only ever dreamed of attending. I have never attended a conference of such a magnitude; although I have participated in numerous conferences before, attending the USLS has changed my life in ways that I could not have ever imagined. My perspective on community work, leadership and humanity has been altered for the better. Being someone who strives to help others, I have been inspired to go out and do more. Meeting the leaders that spoke and the young leaders at the conference has opened my eyes to a world of possibilities. The USLS enabled me to try new things, meet new people and re-evaluate what I will like to accomplish with my life. Being in Hong Kong was also a lifetime opportunity and I will never be able to put into words how incredibly grateful I am. Hong Kong is a place full of culture and diversity. It was an amazing experience to see how other people live and what they strive for in their lives. There is nothing in the world I would exchange for the experience I have had. I left the conference inspired to make more change, meet more people, learn more about the diversity of cultures and different ethnic groups, and be the change I want to see in the world.

To future delegates, I urge you to take every experience, sight, gush of wind, smell and emotion with an open mind. There is so much to learn from so many people, leaders and delegates alike. It really is such an incredible experience that cannot be replaced with anything. Once the symposium is over, you are going to wish there was still more time, this is why I urge you to take it all in and learn as much as possible.
Shannalee Doran
Monash University, South Africa
Attending the University Scholars Leadership Symposium in the Philippines was indeed an unforgettable experience. I had never travelled overseas before; it was a blessing that my first trip abroad was to attend this incredible symposium. Not only was I able to experience the Filipino culture and meet with the locals, I also met with 700 talented delegates from more than 45 countries. I felt extremely honored to be given the privilege to co-host the opening ceremony; it was indeed a memorable experience for me to be able to contribute to this significant event. I will not forget the feeling of speaking to such a large audience and I appreciate Humanitarian Affairs, for providing me with this opportunity. The speakers challenged and inspired me and they have certainly feed my passion to effect change in this world. The hands- on experience at the learning journey was an eye-opener. The experience has instilled a strong desire in me to do more for the less fortunate members in our society. I cannot forget the many great friends I made at the Symposium. Our shared values have kept us in contact, and seeing what they are doing with their lives continually motivates me to keep trying to make the world a better place. Overall, it was an amazing experience that no one should dare miss. I definitely recommend it to anyone thinking of experiencing a life changing moment.
Stephanie Rendell
Deakin University, Victoria, Australia
6th University Scholars Leadership Symposium is a life-changing experience that has changed my world view, widened my vision, sharpened my life goals and connected me with like-minded delegates from all around the world.

I will forever be thankful to have attended USLS, as my life is changed completely after going through this impactful symposium. USLS has changed my whole perception on life, especially on the way I view struggles and problems that I thought I had in life. Being in USLS has exposed me to so many issues and needs around the world, making me realize that I can do so much more with the energy that I have been using on solving and worrying over petty matters. It made me realize that there are greater assignments and tasks for me in life than to just focus on my own comfort. It made me want to get out of my comfort zone and do more to change the world.

As if the talks itself were not impactful enough, I had the privilege to participate in “Refugee Run”. Taking part in “Refugee Run” as my learning journey program has given me a glimpse into the fear, sufferings and hardships a refugee has to go through. If a one-hour simulation can elicit such overwhelming fear and emotions among the delegates, making us feel so dehumanized and helpless, my heart really aches for what over 51 million of refugees go through on a daily basis for years.

With privilege comes responsibility. USLS has opened up my heart and mind to humanitarian issues around the world, and made me realize that with the privilege to enjoy tertiary education, all university students hold the responsibility to take actions and make a change in the lives of those who are under-served. Through USLS, I have further confirmed my decision to commit my life to humanitarian work as a Psychologist. I want to make a change with the skills that I have by being who I am.
Suzanne Ling
UCSI University, Malaysia
The symposium exceeded all my expectations and inspired me a lot. I want to underline how professional the whole symposium was from our hotel arrangements to tea breaks and lunch. They provided us with a wide variety of intriguing speakers each with a unique view on the world or a personal story to tell. This symposium was trying to nurture young motivated individuals, like myself who want to play a role in contributing to society. This was perfectly introduced by the first speaker, Dr. Rosanne Wong, who spoke on how to live a purposeful life. There were moments when people were emotionally moved, left in tears, speechless or praising the speaker with a standing ovation; those are moments I will cherish and never forget. Besides the great talks, we had the opportunity to go on a learning journey and experience a different view of the city. I chose to participate in helping the community of Sam Ka Tseun, a fishing village. After our guided tour of discovering that pirates, mafia and drug crimes governed this small fishing village, we spent the afternoon teaching little children the English language and played games with them. I also had the opportunity to explore the city, from discovering the beautiful scenery of Victoria peak to trying street food in the overcrowded and cozy streets of Mong Kok. Overall, I recommend other students to attend the symposium because they will learn some valuable life lessons. Next year the USLS will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, with a focus on ‘Inspiring Individual, Transforming Communities’, so do not dare to miss out on this life changing opportunity?
Steven Leenaerts
Coventry University, United Kingdom
There is an almost intoxicating cocktail of emotions that I believe should grip all of us at some point in our lives. It is a mixture of fear, excitement, determination and apprehension and while it is admittedly a little terrifying, there is an aching sense of obligation to you to address that feeling. That is how I would describe passion. This year's USLS not only addressed that passion within all of the delegates but also stripped us of the comfort of keeping it to ourselves while forcing us to make a choice; a choice of whether to lead, to follow or to get out of the way. Looking back, I entered the symposium unconfident and feeling that my efforts to create change in my country were futile. I have walked out of the symposium confident about myself and inspired by people with dreams just as big, if not bigger, than my own. There is something empowering about other people supporting your goals, giving you advice and taking you seriously, when you say you want to be president even when you were joking. Because of this USLS experience, I cannot excuse myself from trying harder and believing in myself when I met so many people from around the world who believe in me.

I cannot thank Humanitarian Affairs enough for building what will be a generation of change makers and world leaders. To students worldwide I say apply! If you care about more than just exalting yourself and seeing Ghandi’s quotes as more than just cool tattoo ideas, this experience will change you in ways you cannot even imagine. Tears will be shed, secrets will be shared and you will leave so much stronger and more inspired than you could ever imagine. Even if you do not see yourself as a refugee aid worker or NGO starter this symposium will help you get one-step closer to finding where you fit in the global humanitarian puzzle, and you will love it.
Thandiwe Chindove
University of Newcastle, Australia
I can easily say that attending the University Scholars Leadership Symposium was a great privilege. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to share my goals – and likewise hear other goals - with other aspiring youth leaders who have an open mind to discuss even obstacles we often face and how to overcome them.

Leading a group of 35 international students in Hong Kong in the learning journey program was an invaluable experience. I had the chance to speak to many elderly residents and hear their life journeys, some of which even had parents that fought in World War II. Being a leader on an international scale is something that I will treasure forever, as I discovered my strengths and weaknesses that would have otherwise would not have. The speakers at the Symposium were truly inspirational and all notable leaders in their fields. They could easily draw upon a vast number of experiences in their lives that allowed them to be the great leaders they are today. They all made me so excited to return home and to embark on my own humanitarian leadership journey.

Lastly, the invaluable international connections that I have made with aspiring leaders will aid in the future, where we collectively can call upon each other to help our bigger humanitarian goals. I still speak to these fellow youth leaders and I am certain that the effect this Symposium has had on not only me – but on every delegate that attended – was truly unfathomable.
Tiana Podinic
Western Sydney University, Australia
The USLS was an indescribable experience that words cannot do justice in describing it. I can honestly say that I haven't experienced anything like it; the ability to travel internationally to meet with like-minded individuals from diverse cultures, languages and backgrounds, bound together with a common passion of doing some good in the world. This diversity and drive was what made the symposium an incredible experience for me. Never before have I been surrounded by so many ambitious, extroverted and intelligent leaders, who despite having achieved so much in so few years, care more about making a difference than they do about advancing their own self -interests. It was so refreshing to find such an engaging group of people with whom I could share such an empowering week.

As one of the youngest delegates at the symposium, having only recently turned 18 a few weeks before attending, I was a little apprehensive as to what the program would entail and whether it was wise for me to attend so early in my studies. However, the friendly people and committed staff eased all of my concerns and I am now inspired to make the most out of my time at university. The learning journey, in particular, helped reignite my passion for volunteering my time to help those in need, as well as affirming the impact that something as simple as giving up a few hours every so often can have. The impressive lineup of guest speakers had a similar effect of inspiring me to make positive a change and educating me on the steps to do so. I was in awe that such eloquent and engaging speakers could manage to be so sincere and humble, even after having completed what they had done. Overall, I would highly recommend this symposium to anyone looking to gain new insight into the multitude of different stories, experiences and cultures that make up the world around them.
Tim Porter
University of Adelaide, Australia
When you are a young person trying to make a positive impact in the world, you often feel small and insignificant in trying to achieve this. You feel like a drop of water in a very vast ocean - what difference could you possibly make? Attending the University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Hong Kong completely changed my perspective and made me realize that I was not alone in this endeavor to make the world a better place. Hundreds of friendly, open, passionate, and like-minded young people who believed in the same things as me, shared the same vision and were all working towards the same humanitarian goal. I never felt like I had to explain myself, or defend my ideals. I felt completely at ease with those around me and we quickly became one big family. My time at the USLS has taught me that no country, government or religion can divide a common humanitarian conscience. I left the conference with an even greater passion to continue making the world a better place for the less fortunate and I believe I am the next young leader to make this happen! Thank you Humanitarian Affairs for fostering the confidence in me to realize that the foregoing can be a reality.
Tina Phan
Edith Cowan University, Australia
USLS is an international conference that is unique in its own way. In this one-week symposium, I had lived in a multi-cultural environment with the participation of delegates from 57 nations and appreciated the beauty of our diversity. We might be different in religion, skin tone, and so forth, but we were all there to learn together, better ourselves together, and improve our society together. Each one had his/her own stories and concepts of community services that made him/her unique, from which I learnt more about human’s goodwill and determination. The eloquent speakers, the global or community change makers, passing the torch of humanitarian passion and compassion to each one of us, also inflamed us. We were there to meet new people and left the symposium as friends, spreading the spirit of improving the community by keeping on passing the torch we had been given to our friends back in our home countries. USLS has given me a great present in terms of self-reflection, future direction and precious memories in Hong Kong.

My most memorable moment during my time at the USLS was my learning journey in which I visited the cubical houses and helped elderly people to clean up their houses. I did not know Cantonese. They did not know neither English nor Vietnamese, the only way of communication was through body language and smiling, which, I realized, did not have any barrier or boundary. They smiled when I was cleaning the top of the wardrobe, maybe because no one had ever reached there to clean while I was able to do so because I am tall. After the symposium, I realized that the journey to fight social problems is not short and easy. It is a long way that depends immensely on the humans’ perspectives as well as the will to change. One week at the USLS in Hong Kong, though short, strongly motivated me to strive more in my long way of bettering my community, in which I always know a good will and a smile is the key to open people’s heart. Thank you, Humanitarian Affairs and see you all in the near future at the next conference my friends!
Tuan Anh Vu
RMIT International University, Vietnam
I felt fortunate being among the 873 delegates from 57 countries attending this amazing USLS. Words cannot describe how I felt when my university informed me that I was among the delegates selected to represent the college and my country at this symposium. The symposium gave me the opportunity to learn more about the problems facing the world, in particular developing countries. Sharing views with the delegates from different countries was one of my many highlights of the symposium. Although we come from various countries with diverse cultures, I believe that all the delegates shared a similar goal, which is to make this world a better place for the human race. The symposium taught me to be a doer and changer in the face of unfair phenomena in our daily life. Different speakers shared their personal experiences showing the possibility that we all have the ability to help improve the lives of the communities in need. Poverty, war, and lack of education have been customary in humankind’s history. Although born and raised in the city, I cannot ignore the fact that even some people in our own districts are suffering. One speaker said, “Privilege comes with responsibility,” we, as young leaders are bound to educate, enrich and enlighten others, and maintain close touch with the world. USLS has made me more willing to communicate with people from diverse and cultural backgrounds. I certainly look forward to attending or volunteering at more symposiums like USLS.
Wen Jun Niu
Southeast University, China
I attended the USLS because I believe the world needs to change for the better. In addition, I want to grow personally and professionally; I the symposium was a good opportunity to immerse myself into an entirely different culture from my own as well as gaining a real understanding of some of the most important humanitarian issues. The energy that I experienced at the USLS is like no other. There was so much overwhelming passion, motivation and love in one room all at once. It was such an exciting experience helped shape who I am today. By listening to and engaging with leaders who have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place, I was inspired to dedicate my life to doing the same. It is only right that this energy and love overflows the conference venue and into the surrounding local community. Whilst working with my fellow delegates to help build homes in one of the most vulnerable communities in the Philippines, I had the opportunity to meet the local people whose lives we were changing. They were some of the most welcoming, grateful and loving people I have ever met and this experience alone was more powerful than anything I was expecting from the USLS.

The University Scholar’s Leadership Symposium changes the lives of everybody involved; the delegates, the speakers, and the local people. As a delegate, you see lives changing before your eyes and really understand that by uniting and working together with love, friendship and understanding; we can all be leaders of positive sustainable change in the world. Delegates from all around the world are brought together in a truly collaborative environment to deeply explore the most important humanitarian issues whilst gaining valuable skills and experiences to be successful humanitarian leaders as well as leaders in all areas of life. You will grow as a person, as a professional, as a leader and you will learn how you can help to make the world a better place. I left the conference I completely different person.
Zain Luke Ali
Coventry University, UK
When I applied to the University Scholars Leadership Symposium, I did not actually know what to expect. All I knew was the fact that it centred on humanitarian initiatives, NGOs, and global humanitarian issues. Countless questions crossed my mind. Would it be one of those conferences revolving around leadership and self-development? Will it be the kind of symposium that would eventually groom me to make a difference with my newly learned leadership skills? Or would it make me a selfless philanthropic dedicated to changing planet earth? Would I leave this symposium as Mother Teresa or as Bill Gates? The moment the symposium started, I knew I was going to leave a different person. My heart was beating with renewed strength that I did not know I had in me until that moment. Tears were pouring down my face when I always believed I was emotionally constipated. It opened my senses to a world beyond my recognition; a world we only saw in movies and documentaries, and shielded ourselves from in reality. It provided an insight into the plight of refugees, hungry children, and many humanitarian issues that needed attention.

This symposium was life changing. We learned a lot. Each of us went home wanting to be a change-maker. It awakened the humanitarian within each of us and lit a candle of determination to make this world a better place for the 51 million refugees worldwide, the millions of orphaned children, the abused and the elderly. To sum it all up, it made us look at everyone but ourselves for a change. I left that symposium with the knowledge that, although I did not have billions of money like Bill Gates to establish foundations to help the less fortunate, I had enough determination, willpower, motivation, and enthusiasm to be the contemporary Mother Theresa.
Zaina Alyemni
Sciences Po Grenoble, France